Our first adventure!
On 27 July 2018 we took the road from Thessaloniki to get to Sithonia, the peninsula in the middle of the “three fingers” located in the north of Greece.
Sithonia is one of the three most wild and least touristic islands.
It is really not difficult to find heavenly places or to park the trucks without anyone bothering you, especially further south.
This is where we went. I know of a beautiful and really secluded cove with no tourist facilities where we did a party three years ago.
Quickly found with the help of GPS, we parked just after the path which is the access to the place.
I went there with the same truck three years ago. I was not the driver but I remember a fairly long path, with a strong descent in some places and holes, lots of holes … but in the end, we arrived safely just like other heavyweights already there before us.
The day was long, the hours of driving when it is very hot are grueling and the desire to park the trucks on the creek and jump into the water is obvious.
It is then on this memory and this impatience that I decide not to reconnoiter the way down this path with the smaller Iveco.
So we enter the path and start the descent … the heavyweight in front, the Iveco second. What at this stage seems an error will prove to save our skin the next days.
It is on a dirt track of 2 km that we “roll”, or rather leap. The first kilometer is dented and a little cold in the back because of the narrowness made dangerous since on our left is the void. But nothing insurmountable, we even arrive at a fairly wide crossing that goes, on one side down towards the cove and the other to a fish farm.
I continue, without suspecting that after this intersection things would get worse. We start a very tight first left turn and I have no choice but to put the wheels on the left side in the thick bushes if I want to go with my length. The void is not far, I know, but for the moment, everything is ok, my friends the bushes are there …
The road gets worse and worse and the holes become ruts. Even at a very low pace and with my foot on the brake, the truck quickly dangles.
While I had the sensation of passing a new rut as the previous, I suddenly feel the truck leaning dangerously on the right. Once the rear wheels are engaged we find ourselves squarely diagonally in the cabin.
This moment of a few seconds will last forever. In my head I had time to imagine the truck going down, into the void…
By reflex I push full throttle and I felt the truck recovering. We go back to the horizontal. I tremble with all my body, adrenaline pumping, and I know that Daan next to me feels the same.
Unfortunately this is not the time to relax because just 50 meters away, the path narrows on both sides to form a passage which I do not even know if a truck could pass. So I can not squeeze right, the side of the cliff, and clearly see the path to high on the left.
Ah well, that’s good, we are heavy weights.
But what is better is that my brain is no longer in reflection mode but rather in reflex mode. The heavyweight balances on the knife’s edge.
A few tens of meters further we will come to the end of this cursed path.
We see our destination on our left, with among others some fishermen … who make us big signs by jumping, telling us to stop.
We will understand why in the minutes that follow. I go down, go to see on foot. Another small left turn and we are there, the hardest is behind us, what could happen to us!
And then… because of the torrential rains the way has completely collapsed. It no longer exists, it is completely gone, smashed, a canyon of mud and stones remains.
Only 50 meters to go to our beach, so close yet so far.
It is around 20h, getting dark, we are clearly blocked down this path without being able to turn around. We descended 200 meters in 2 kilometers, having to negotiate tight curves for a heavy weight.
We stop the engines, drink a shot, contemplating how to get out of this mess.
Clearly, we will not be able to turn back. There is only one possibility, to go up this way in reverse…
With the load that I have in the back and the difficulty just to go, I do not feel comfortable at all.
Yet we have no other choice.
The same evening, to take advantage of the nightly coolness, we get to work.
The plan, reverse the way with the help of the Iveco as he, being behind me, is not blocked.
Use it to load stones and earth to fill any dangerous passage.
We will work until about 2 am in the morning, but tomorrow we will have solved this mess, be in a bar celebrating and laughing!
The next day will force us to understand that we will have to be patient.
After a day with the sun beating down on us, loading, unloading, tampering, breaking and placing stone, we haven’t moved the heavy weight but a few meters.
Spend a whole day with such intense physical activity under a blazing sun like that does not go lightly. Although we’re not very sharp at this moment and the nerves drop quickly at the end of the day, it is however the moment that we must move in order to benefit from the work accomplished the hours before.
Driving now, proves to be a real source of stress for me in this situation.
To pass such difficulties in backward, in which each step has to be imperatively guided, I find it hard to stay calm and fall out with Daan, who is doing his best to guide me perfectly. Good lesson to be learned, do not get upset in such conditions, otherwise the escalation goes very fast.
We decide to stop the truck for tonight. We will resume tomorrow. But after tomorrow we must be out of there. We checked the weather, a storm is announced with heavy rain for Monday morning, and we do not want to be on this mountain in a storm…
Sunday morning, wake up! I had a good breakfast and feel well rested. We start driving immediately. And everything moves with clockwork perfection. We move the truck a good distance and pass obstacles that seemed insurmountable to me the day before.
At the same time with a team like this, I feel like it’s rolling. They guide me perfectly and have the right reflexes.
We arrive at a turn that will have to be analyzed well before it can be taken since besides being serrated and narrow it is also inclined, both upward and to the wrong side (outward of the corner) and as we’re still driving the heavyweight backwards, this is a challenge!
And this is still far away from our goal, by now I think we’ve only traveled about 200 meters from where we started!
It’s not possible, I have to turn around somewhere. Otherwise we will never be out before Monday.
I noticed a kind of terrace just after this bend where I found possibilities emerging a little. We have a powwow with the whole team and conclude that with a lot of work, we might be able to arrange a space to turn around.
This gives me back the morale and energy, we will build a supermarket parking here!
Back to the truck, we trim a few meters of bushes with the electric saw thanks to the inverter we have onboard.
This turn, I’ll have to negotiate alone without the help of Daan. He will not be able to guide me, I have to do this on my own.
I really want to be able to take it without stopping because I feel I’m already asking for lot of the clutch.
I will negotiate this shift without major problems. This thanks to the fact that I now trust the truck, despite the load and the slope, he pulls without flinching.
I also have a calm mind, and that changes everything.
Here we are on this “terrace” where we will spend all afternoon to develop the space still under the sun which seems to have turned into an enemy. I start to feel it on the body. While it is at least 40 degrees sometimes I catch myself shivering. You have to drink a lot, enormously, sun stroke is knocking on our door.
Around 20h I turn an incalculable number of times as there is no room for maneuvering.
21h, we come out of this hell. The last stretch, it seems like I’m on the highway.
Daan and Remy will have all the signs of a sunstroke at night. Vomiting, loss of balance, intense fatigue. This is not an an exercise to be taken lightly under such a sun.
I would have the same thing the next day, as if my brain wanted to be sure it could relax and let my body do the same.
We went out of there exhausted but proud of ourselves. Me less proud after this blunder but happy to take the road with a team like this!
The journey begins …