SOTA 5B/CY-036: Pachia Moutti

The summit, looking northward towards Chrysochou Bay.

This was my second activation on a quick trip out towards the east coast of Cyprus above the city of Paphos. The first activation (5B/CY-042) was intentionally quick to allow for some time to explore this peak, which is more isolated.

There are several trails up to this peak, but it being rainy season, I wasn’t sure what shape they would be in. As I traveled along the paved road that connects Lysos and Stravros tis Psokas (blue on the map below), I noticed a place to pull over at the outside curve at point P. From there, it looked like it would be a simple matter of following the yellow path to the broad trail heading directly the peak. As you might infer from all the colors on the map, however, it wasn’t that simple.

See text for explanation of the various routes explored.

A dirt road ramps up from opposite my parking spot and that track continues in a U-shape back to the main road. That part of the trail is fine, but the yellow bit that connects to the broad trail heading upwards is very steep and I found it completely impossible to walk up, partly because it was wet (rainy season now), but mostly because the gravel constantly slid out from underfoot. I tried working up along the side of the trail where there was more vegetation, but even there, it was very tough going.

The ascending branch to the left was deeply furrowed due to run off and difficult to climb even on foot.

So, I went back to the car to explore some collateral routes. The first one I took is colored pink, above. The turn off from the road could be easily missed, but I was following the map in real time in satellite view. That dirt road is in reasonable condition up to the bifurcation marked “M”, for mushroom.

I hadn’t expected to run into anyone on the side of this hill, but there was a group of tourists and a guide looking for mushrooms. We chatted a bit, and then I continued on the right fork. Shortly beyond that point, it was clear that no one had driven this route this season. It was overgrown, but passable with caution, but only because I had a vehicle with high clearance and four wheel drive.

Further along, the road became more road-like again.

That narrow road winds up one side of the mountain and eventually does meet up with the main dirt road to the peak, which is devoid of vegetation. The final bit to the summit is relatively steep.

The summit itself is, at this time of the year at least, grassy with no trees or even bushes to serve as an antenna support, so some kind of pole is necessary for this activation. The ground is rocky, but there is enough topsoil to drive in stakes as supports, which I found necessary given the wind up there. Here is the view looking back at the way that I had come:

This nice dirt road became a less nice mud road on the way back.

I was nervous as I set up, because I could see storms to the west and south and the sky grew darker and darker. The moment I sent my first QRL raindrops splattered on the rig, forcing me to operate “rig in a bag” style, which is not my favorite.

A flurry of responses came on 20m and as I jotted them in my increasingly soppy logbook, thunder started rumbling, followed by lightning on neighboring peaks. That was too close for comfort and as I started pulling everything down, the rain became a downpour. I took some shortcuts in pulling down the antenna, leaving more work for later, but allowing me to stow everything away within a couple minutes and to vacate the peak before any more serious weather arrived.

Looking again at the map before starting down, I considered how muddy the trail up would now be and how little I wanted to negotiate it during a downpour. I considered waiting it out, but the storm went on as far as I could see from the peak, so opted instead to try the other route down (marked in green). That route proved to be a better and probably more frequently used road. I did have to get out of the car at one point to move some fallen rocks off the road to make it passable, but overall, the green route was a good choice.

That route continues back to the paved road, just a bit west of where I had initially parked. I noted that I could also have taken the dotted green road back to the same point.

So, the take home message on this is that if you are going to drive up, follow the green route. If you are going to walk it, it would be preferable to wait until after the rainy season (but also to avoid the peak heat of summer). It would be reasonable to either park at the highway-side pull off mentioned above or, if your car can go off-road, to park near the mushroom site, where the dirt road is relatively wide. From there, I would hike along the purple route, which is much more suitable to walking than driving. The final climb towards the top is relatively steep and the dirt can be crumbly, so a hiking pole would be a good idea. Finally, remember to bring some kind of support for the aerial.

Here’s the same aerial photo as above, but without the markings for comparison:

These two sites are near enough to Paphos that they could both be done in a day, given good conditions. However, they are about as far from Nicosia as you can get an still be on the same island. For me, it was more than a two hour drive in each direction. I followed the coastal route from Nicosia through Limassol and up through Paphos, but a more “direct” route through the Troodos mountains would not have been any faster, particularly at this time of year, when it has already snowed up there.

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