Gigilos peak of White Mountains range is considered as one of the most enchanting mountain summits of Crete. Rearing up from the depths of the gorge below Xyloskalo, it rises defiantly and rockily barren (ashen in colour), as its old name would suggest.
Gigilos is from a pre-Greek word – girgiros – a pile of rocks.
The climb up starts from the tourist kiosk built on its steep side: above we enter the longest scree slope in Crete – a very dangerous passage. Indeed the path to the top encounters several treacherous parts and sharp rocks: it is rightly considered the hardest peak in Crete to ascend. Yet one’s enjoyment on reaching the amazing summit is indescribable. At 1800 m, on the west, is the spring of Zeus, whilst on the south (at 1500 m) is the famous Ellenoseli and its spring.
In a cave – the so-called Daimonospelio – below the spring was thought to been an oracle, and nearby a city, destroyed by the great earthquake of 360/365 AD. The infernal noises audible within the depths of the cave may be from underground water courses.
On the north edge, in another cave, Gigilos lore has it that the sounds of a lyra can be heard – that of a shepherd ensnared by nymphs. Round and round they dance with their blond hair flying loose, singing all the while and holding in their arms babies as white as sea-foam!
Even though Gigilos is not part of the E4 walking trail, it is worth the effort of climbing the sharp peak: the harsh ascent, the joy of reaching the top and the chance of seeing a nymph – all offer their own excitements!
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