Mount Kerkis, Samos island
Kerkis or Kerketeus is an extinct volcano, forming the bulk of the center of the Greek island of Samos. Its highest peak, named Vigla is at 1,433 m (4,701 ft), making it the second-highest peak in the East Aegean (after Fengari on Samothrace).
According to author Epaminondas Stamatiades the mountain’s name derives from the Greek verb «κέρκω» that means «hit with noise», and it is referred to the sound that the waves produce when they are crushing on its craggy coasts. Another view is that the name has been given after «Kerketes», tribe from Asia Minor who came as miners.
Kerkis is literally a huge rock. As it is completely dry, it is a very unfriendly and difficult place to hike. For this reason, people have lost their way back many times.
Kerki’s mountain sides are rugged rocky and they end up smooth, eastward to Karlovassi valley, it then stretches southward to Velanidia’s and Marathokampo’s valley and to the point that Kerkis and Ampelos mountains meet, in the village of Agii Theodori. In these areas, the ground is fertile, with thick forest acreages and many water sources.
The mountain has a whitish color due to a high chalk content, especially visible on several exposed cliffs. It is considered a sanctuary for numerous plants and animals, some of them endangered, and so is part of the European Union’s Natura 2000 network of protected sites.
There are also several small monasteries on its slopes, as well as a number of caves. Of these, the most notable is the Cave of Pythagoras on the eastern slope, in which Pythagoras is reputed to have hidden from the tyrant Polycrates prior to going into exile in Italy.