Having been staring up towards Crete’s mountain chains the entire time I was walking the coastal routes of the E4 trail, it was with a sense of excitement that Kyle and I drove up rocky back roads into the heart of the White Mountains.
Our original intention had to been to hike from here through the mountains and down the Samaria Gorge, but after several inquisitions lead to answers that the Gorge was without exception not yet open to hikers for the year, we decided instead to drive up to towards the Lefka Ori trailhead near Roussies to make a loop through the mountains from there.
As we soon found, even this was too ambitious. Much of the road was still covered in snow even in mid-April, so we left the car near a shepherds’ hut and continued up the snowy trail on foot.
At times this necessitated navigating snowdrifts with full packs, but we both soon tired of the effort and uncertainty involved.
So, we shifted to a route that took us down below the drifts and then back up over the rocky landscape to reconnoiter the way from a higher perspective.
Several hours after starting, without having made more than just a couple kilometers of forward progress, we turned back towards what had seemed a likely campsite and vowed to reconsider our situation the next morning.
Setting up camp just below some of the lower snow drifts, the fading light gave way to a cold wind that saw us both inside of our tents pretty early into the night.
Luckily, we had a bit of Lousiana Red Beans and Rice to keep us warm!
The next morning, having scouted the trail forward a ways and seeing nothing but progressively deeper snow, we opted to head back to the beach and pick up the trail via the ferry to Agia Roumeli. With several days now free, though, there was plenty of time for snowy fun. Personal favorite: sliding feet-first down the steepest accessible patch of snow we could find. It left me with a cold wet backside for sure, but also dispelled some of the disappointment of being defeated AGAIN by the Crete E4!
Looking back though, as unprepared for proper snow hiking as we were and knowing now that Crete’s best campsite was at that point only a few days away, I have to say it was the smart decision.
I’d go back to Crete’s White Mountains, of course, but perhaps this time when the name came not from snowy caps but the bright rocks that the chain is composed of.