Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Troodos Mountains

Climbing to higher elevations in Troodos Mountains

After leaving the church of St. Nicholas of the Roof we headed back to the hotel via a different route.  This time we would drive through Troodos Resort en route back to Pano Platres.  

Still well below the snow line

The drive was only about 35 kilometers (just over 21 miles) and it was spectacular! 

Lots of copper became visible in the rocks on the mountainside.  The Egyptians during the Ptolemy reign obtained all their copper from Cyprus.  I have no idea exactly where on Cyprus this copper was mined, but this area has very rich copper deposits.  A sign placed at one of the lookout points stated that this particular area had been heavily mined for asbestos up until 1982.  During the 1930s more than 10,000 people were employed in the mining of asbestos.  That industry was the largest employer on the island.  We did not see asbestos, or if we saw it we did not know what were were looking at; but we sure saw lots of copper.  

Very visible copper deposits

Earlier in the day we had noticed large deposits of marble in the mountainside.   We have seen granite in other areas but this was the first marble we have noticed.  Lots of stuff to quarry here, even after 10,000 years of civilization.

Beginning to see tiny patches of snow

Snow getting thicker

As we climbed to the higher elevation there appeared patches of snow.  We had reached the snow line.

Getting 'cloudier' and snow getting deeper
Soon snow was all around us.  I don't know what we were expecting, but we were not expecting to see snow this heavy this late in the year.  Remember, we have been wearing shorts at the marina for the past week.  But that was at sea level and this was at elevation over 5,650 feet.  A world of difference.

Wet but not raining

The road twisted and curved and wound around the mountain ever upwards.  It never actually rained but the road and air became wetter and wetter.

Hard to say if we were in fog or in clouds at this altitude.


Near the top

Finally we started downward, past the Presidential Summer House.  The Troodos Mountains have been popular with kings of Syria and what is now known as Israel for thousands of years.  The well-to-do would come to Troodos to escape the worst heat of summer in their home countries.  Down at sea level the temperature in August can be 113F.  At this elevation the temperature might be only 93F.......which is still plenty hot, IMHO.

Can you believe this!  Who knew this kind of snow fell on Cyprus!
Soon we had reached a level where the snow was rapidly melting.  And the sky cleared as we descended.  So maybe that was just clouds up at the top of the mountain.

Well, that was really interesting.   I am so glad we made this trip.  Even if we didn't see the Byzantine frescoes that had been so highly recommended, just driving through the snow in the mountains was worth the trip.

Excellent example of a Chop Top Pine
Bill found some of the trees unusual.  He called them 'chop top pines.'  These trees would grow with a normal pointed top shape until reaching maximum height.  Then the tops would flatten out.  Looking for all the world as if someone had chopped off the top of the tree.  Weird pines.  We have not see this type pine tree anywhere else.

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