Early morning 5th of Oktober 11 we woke up to start our long walk to Skiti Annis. We chose to follow the upper foothpath, that leads you through “the dessert” of Athos and fantastic forrests. For pilgrims who visit this part of the Holy Mountain for the first time, I would recommend the lower path, which gives you better views, but it is much more difficult and harder then the upper path, that keeps the same height at about 700 meters.
Here is a part of the Zwerger-map with the route we took. The letters refer to places where I took pictures.
A. Our journey started at 8 in the morning, first we followed the dirt road from Prodromou and soon, just before the road turns to the right in the direction of Lavra, you will find the foothpath leading all the way to Skiti Annis. Jitze, Peter and Gert Jan are prepairing their rugsacks for the long walk.
B. After a steep climb we arrived at the junction of paths at spot B. Pilgrim Gert Jan looks at the path that leads to Lavra, the path going down on the right side leads you back to Prodromou. From this point the path leads along the mountain slopes
C. looking forewards to the mindchilling landslide of Karavostasi, one of the most impressive places of Athos: the lower path will take you there.
D. not far from point B. the path splits into a upper and lower part. We continued to walk through the dense forrests. Zwerger draws some houses soon after this spot, but I did not find any traces of them.
(E) with on the other side of the path a rusty sign leading you to Kerasia and Agia Annis.
Thick oak trees, probably hundreds of years old, lead the way for Gert Jan
F. One of the disadvantages of the upper path is the lack of panoramic views. Here the landscape is more open and the mountain shows itself in all its splendor. The fine weather and a top without clouds, played an important role in my decision the climb the mountain one hour later.
G. The path winds through the forrest, with a small bridge for a brook at G. Although the sun shines and the temperature is 25 C, it is dark and moisture.
H. At this spot a signs shows a path leading to Agios Nilos and Kafsokalivia. The path is not on the Zwerger-map!
H. Time for a break on a fine wooden bench. Another sign pointing off hill towards Agios Neilos to an unknown path. Notice the number 700 carved in the bark of the tree, undoubtedly the altitude at that spot (?).
H. These signs point to the direction we will go
I. this path bending down leads to Kerasia (Cherry), a small settlement with some kellia, that lies not far from here.
J. And then at 11 o’clock in the morning, after a relatively easy walk of three hours, we arrived at the famous function of paths called Stauvros – the Cross. Here hard decisions had to be made: do you continue towards Agia Annis and find yourself in a comfortable place with a soft bed after one hour, or do you take the path behind the large oaks, that brings you in 3,5 hours to the top (plus 2,5 hours to climb down)?
I said to myself “it is now or never” and as you can see, I started climbing to the top, together with pilgrim Peter. Jitze and Gert Jan went down to Skiti Annis.
More about the climb to the top and the surprize we had next time.