The weather was warm and the atmosphere a bit heavy with Sahara dust. A group of us decided to walk up the Ilingas gorge to the first rock wall you have to climb, then turn back. The old kaldirimi (footpath) from Sfakia to Anopoli crosses the gorge, but it seems like few people explore the gorge itself.
Looking down on Ilingas beach from the road, we could see they have put in more poles for umbrellas and are getting the small cave cleared so they can put the drinks refrigerator and kayak equipment inside. The Ilingas rooms have been divided up amongst cousins, we have been told, so the taverna and landward rooms are a separate business from the seaward rooms, and the beach chairs and umbrellas are run by one of them. It seemed they were getting ready to open for the 1st/2nd of May. Cretan ebony has finally started coming into bloom on the cliff before the gorge, as have the oleanders along the road.
The walk up the Ilingas gorge is steeper than it may seem at first, and the gorge bottom surface is quite uneven so it’s slow going, but the topography is interesting and changes around each bend, with huge hollows high up in some of the cliffs and swirls of different coloured rock layers. The wall of boulders that we stopped at can be scaled (we’ve done it in previous years), but this was just meant to be a short hike today so we turned back.
In the gorge we found some campanula starting to bloom, and all three types of poppies within a few feet of each other. There were many dragon arums blooming, but many had started to wilt, giving off the smell of dead goats, so we hurried through those sections.
We got back to Sfakia as the wind picked up, and there were uncomfortable cold gusts of wind much of the evening, and again in the night.
Today (the 30th), the weather is perfect, and many people have been swimming.