438 – A trip to Athos in 2007 (day 1 – nr 5)

As I told you and showed you in my last post in 431, after you turn the corner at Karoulia, the outmost point of the peninsula, you’ll soon see the settlement of Katounakia, with a couple a buildings that rise up along the slopes of Mount Athos:
Katounakia – 2007
The rocky path leads you to churches and kelia (farmhouses), which we could not visit because of the time passing by,
and in the meanwhile the mountain dooms up from the mist:
The surroundings get more and more rocky and rough: still small houses kept on appearing:
Even the map of Zwerger did not help us inexperienced wanderers, because after a while we already thought to be near Ag. Basiliou and the top of Prof. Iliou, but in reality we did not come any further. It showed out we misjudged the lines of the heights on the map: you don’t see how long you have to descend of climb and it took us a long time to get nearer to our goal, Kavsokalivia.
Here you can see a map of the area we have been crossing (buy this map from the maker: Reinhold Zwerger, A-1020 Wien, Wohlmutstr.8, I bought it at the bookstore Pied-a-Terre Amsterdam).
and two pictures taken on our route to Kavsokalivia. Finally we reached a Ag. Basiliou and we had to ring a bel at the gate of a farm to find our way again. It friendly monk showed us the right track (which was hidden behind the farm) and we were glad we could continue the long walk.
The bushes around you are so thick and almost impenetrable, you can hardly look 2/3 meters through. That’s why it is little creepy when you suddenly hear a loud noise of breaking branches and wood very near ! What animal could make this much noise ? Something really big was only a couple of meters away ! It couldn’t be a goat or a fox – to little – and we have been reading stories of wild bears, dear and even wolfs on Mount Athos, so what could this be ? We were relieved when we noticed that the animal did not come any closer, but rapidly moved away from us. And then, in a flash moment, I saw two really big wild boars jump over our path, some 25 meters in front of us, obviously more afraid for us, then we for them. We felt relieved anyway…
On the track just before the major crossing and the path to the top, the landscape gets more friendly, trees get thicker and the slopes less steep,
until you reach the famous spot where paths meet and with worn-out signs.
We have been walking for 3,5 hours since leaving Skiti Annis and the altitude is 765 meters.
From now on the hike goes mostly downwards and is relatively easy, although at this time we feel the Holy Mountain in almost every muscle.
More next time,
Wim, 14/4

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