Monday, July 2, 2007

Mt Parnassus

Mt Parnassus: 7/1-2/2007

It was awesome. My parents met us in Athens and hung out with us while we were in Greece. It was great to see them, especially because this is the longest time i have spent without seeing them in my life! It was kind of like a rest, or break, from the trip being back with family, and being in relatively familiar and comfortable Europe.
We spent a couple days in Athens running errons and gathering essential, yet hard to find, things like zip-lock bags, face moisturizer with SPF, and cotton socks. And of course we visited the Parthenon, drank great wine, and ate too much food. Our first, of two, mountains to climb in Greece was Parnassus, site of the legendary oracle of Delphi. We drove to Arahova, a great mountain ski town on the slopes of Parnassus, and about 8km from Delphi. According to Greek mythology, this mountain was sacred to Apollo, the Corycian nymphs and was the home of the Muses. The Oracle of Delphi was sacred to the god Apollo. As the home of the Muses, Parnassus became known as the home of poetry, music, and learning. Just down the slope from Delphi, is the sanctuary of Athena. Athena is the companion of heroes and the goddess of heroic endeavor. She also became the goddess of wisdom and philosophy (the Parthenon and Athens are devoted to her as well). And lying between these two powerful monuments is the Castalian Spring. The sacred spring of Delphi lies in the ravine of the Phaedriades. The preserved remains of two monumental fountains that received the water from the spring can be visited today. We visited the oracle, then the sanctuary of Athena, then collected water from the sacred spring to carry to the summit of Mt Parnassus.

Sacred Delphi has it origins in prehistoric times and the worship of Gaia, the Earth Goddess. Only later did it become the religious and spiritual center of the acient Greek world. The legond says that Apollo made it his by killing the Python that guarded the oracle of Gaia. The way the oracle worked was classic... A priestess of the oracle, a Pythia, sat on a tripod seat over an active geologic vent on the side of the mountain. Fumes would rise out the vent (fumes containing who knows what kind of gasses...) and intoxicate the Pythia. She would fall into trance, allowing Apollo to possess her spirit, and make prophesies. Usually this came out as mumbled gibberish, so a priest would interpret what she said into something understandable. People consulted her on everything from important matters of public policy to personal affairs.

The day after visiting Delphi (and trying to inhale as much oracle air as possible :), we set out early in the morning to climb to the summit of Parnassus. Many thanks to my dad for driving us to the ski resort where we would begin the climb. My mom, dad, rod and I all started up the ski runs, heading to the top ridge of the resort. Gun shots rang out periodically, and we were all a bit worried about who was shooting and weather they saw us coming up or not. At the mid lodge, my dad turned around and went back to the car to wait for us to return, and the 3 of us continued up the ridge.
At the top, the gun shots were louder! We started walking along the well marked trail off the top the resort and into the deeper mountain. We reached a small fissure in the rock where the trail went and were stunned to find a air powered cannon shooting into the fissure. After some careful inspection, we decided it wasn't shooting anything but air. Still, it was still scary walking in its range and through the fissure as it fired at us.

At the base of the final pitch to the summit, we stopped for some lunch. We brought cheese, bread, some tomatoes, and 1.5 L of local white wine. We ate and drank a little too much (considering we are still in the middle of a long hike), and then started the slog to the top. Hurray!! We summitted!! And, even better... My totally Awesome Mom just charged up here! She was leaving me behind on the way up! Yeahhh Mom!!
We offered the water from the Castilian spring to the mountain and hung out a bit, then headed down. It was long walk down. Especially walking the last part through the ski resort. When we finally reached the gravel road that would take us to the parking lot, we composed the road song...

"We are on the Road, Yeah!
We are on the Road.
Walking on the Road, Yeah!
Walking on the Road.
No more stumbling, no more fumbling
We are on the Road!"

My Dad was waiting with the car. Yea Dad! We headed back to town tired and hungry, but in good spirits, having enjoyed our time with the beautiful Mt Parnassus (we didn't see any Nymphs though).


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Maverick said...

to me one of the most enigmatic cultures in the world, surely you know that Greeks have something similar to Generic Viagra, they offer this as a gift to the gods.

W. Stauffer said...

Hello, can you remember about how long it took you to climb up and back? I'd like to make the same climb and want to plan my times?