As I told you in post 1223 we arrived at the Stavros junction at 11 o’clock. I decided to give it a try and together with pilgrim Peter we took the path that leads to the top.
The path to the top, starting at appr. 700 meters and ascending 1330 meters in 3 or 3,5 hours!
The first part of the path winds up the mountain with hairpin bends, surrounded by small trees and low bushes/maquis (800 m.). Slowly the vegetation gets less dense.
Looking back to the South from this point, you’ll see the Profiti Illiou rock with Agiou Basiliou and Katounakia (on the right) behind it (also see map in 1223).
This picture is also taken from the same spot, but now the camera points towards the SouthEast, in the direction of Kerasia and Kafsokalivia. It was such a beautifull day for a climb to the top, almost no clouds in the sky!
At about 1000 meters you will arrive at a decisive spot, because here the path reaches a place where you can have a look to the North and see the Western cost of Athos.
Look up from this point and you already can see the top: only 1030 meters to go!
And then the newly renovated Panaghia refuge shows up. As I told you before our group split up in two and the others planned to climb the mountain the 5th of October 2011. What the other group of pilgrims didn’t know that Peter and I also decided to climb to the mountain. I sneaked up to them and when they finally recognized me they were very surprized and glad to see us. The picture shows the moment they started shouting at me!
Bas even decided to continue his climb after meeting us, because the climb didn’t come easy for him!
Looking back from 1500 m. towards Lavra and Prodromou, where we walked a couple of hours before.
Lets have a closer look inside the Panaghia refuge:
The dormitory, a relative clean but messy place, with primitive mattresses or none at all! I think I would prefer to bring my own and a sleeping bag!
In the chapel you can find a simple iconostasis with simple icons
One of the windows in the first room after entering the chapel. You also can find a fireplace and and a well in this room:
The meeting of the two groups at Panaghia. with a bell in front of them, but there were still 530 meters to go!
After Panaghia the landscape gets more desolate. Isolated trees, thick and probably very old, mark the surroundings.
Isolated old pines on a rocky ground (1600/1700 meters)
and then, after 3 hours of climbing, you’ll reach your aim at 2030 meters high. Here your author proudly holds the famous iron cross that tops the Holy Mountain for the first time (and last?) in his life!
Wim Voogd, 29/11
(next time some pictures from the top and the building activities)