Sarakina Gorge, Meskla Hiking Artistry

T he subtitle says Hiking Artistry… what does this even mean? Well, let me try to explain it a little bit. It’s an effort to describe the case when you set up a hiking adventure and then you decide to invite a friend photographer – you know of the fancy artsy kind. And as you trouble your mind with details about how to find the entrance of the gorge, to set up the course and the such, he is telling you oh my, we are going to shoot contemporary art photos! This is how the first collaborative post on Croissant Stories starts!

I had never heard about the gorge at Meskla. Having been there in the past, this was troubling me the most, as I had never noticed a sign post or anything that would tell of its existence. The photos though that I saw on the internet were quite tempting and Meskla is just a 20 minutes drive from Chania, so I guess it was worth the effort.

It didn’t take more than a few steps on the dirt road that led to the entrance of the gorge to realize that we had made a great choice! We found ourselves in a forest and an enchanting scenery as we started walking the trail. The light was excellent and the breeze perfect for hiking.

I was left behind in an effort to capture a few photos, when I heard the enthusiastic voice of Matina who was leading the pack. She had reached the entrance of the slot canyon. A fairy tail image was lying before our eyes; something that is easier to describe in words rather than try to capture it in a photo without seriously degrading its beauty.

George immediately started setting up a scene for his contemporary art photo project. How great it is to participate in the realization of someone’s concept! But above all I realize that it is wonderful to hung around with different people that may not have the same ideas or vision with you. More than often, when you start doing something you limit yourself in a narrow path – you have a specific idea and as you follow it you forget that there is a whole world around that you seem to ignore.  The people around you can lift your blindfolds and show you broader perspectives.

After a while, we hit the trail again and start our ascent towards Zourva. The trail takes us again deep in the forest. I can’t say that I am used to such trails in Crete. Despite the heat of the day, inside the forest the atmosphere is great and the mood even greater, that I feel as if can start running. The voice of my friend Vassilis making fun of me echoes in my mind, so I decide to forget the whole thing and keep walking.

We head back from the same route. As if we didn’t have enough from this gorge and we want to see everything again. Everything is great.

If you thought that this is the end of the story, then you must have forgotten the collaborative part that I mentioned in the beginning…. So what you just read is simply my version of the story. Keep on reading for George’s version and photos….

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As soon as I noticed the narrows I left my backpack on the ground and sat on the rock that was in the middle of the pathway, trying to figure out what I could do there. A few minutes later I was roaming here and there collecting broken tree branches and roots, climbing up the gorge walls and building small totems. I was exploring the possibilities the scenery was giving me and by no way I wanted to leave without at least one picture.

I believe there is no single way of taking photographs. In my case I think there are three: doing my job, pleasure and personal work. It was the first weekend for a long time that I didn’t work and I was more than restless to abandon the glance of the professional. Just leave it aside. Actually, I wanted everything. Not to get tired, since I was carrying all the fatigue of a long summer, to stroll around in nature with my friends, a promise of good mood, and to reinitiate a procedure of making pictures for my projects in progress.

The gorge seemed ideal for all these. It was not far away and it was small, about an hour-long walk the guide said. Moreover, the online pictures of the narrow rocky part were very promising for several staging attempts of mine.

We were welcomed by luxuriant nature, local nature lovers had taken good care of the paths and the light on the tree trunks and leaves came as a gift combined with the deep shadows of the gorge cavities. Under those conditions you simply jump around like a kid and take pictures like in the past, carefree and painlessly. This is something I really miss nowadays and that suddenly occurs out of nowhere and almost always in the company of friends.

In the end I took the picture I wanted. To be more precise, after a few experiments, I rather took three of them and a couple of run-ups more, which, who knows, might someday be used for something. During the whole course there were three points where I casted the excursion aside and dropped into art making. And despite my talking only about photography all this time, in truth it was only a small part of the whole trip. I insist on believing that there are certain things that it is preferable to experience than to photograph.

There is no way to show on pictures the good mood we had and the jokes we made on our way, nor the smells of late summer or the hunger we felt in the end and made us rush to the taverns of Therisso looking for lamb ribs.

Before the story ends, here are the final edit photos…

Andres, George
Sarakina Gorge, Meskla, 2016.

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