It is a long and very steep, rocky, descent from Stavros to Katounakia. From almost 800 meters to 200 meters in less than 2 kilometers. The Nordic walking sticks proved themselves going downhill.The only encounter we had was on a levelled terrain with a mule man, who led a small caravan of mules loaded with small logs, more like twigs. Most of the trees are small on this southern edge of the Holy Mountain due to the arid climate. He walked on silently and only gave us short nod as a greeting.When the view finally opened we could see Daniiléon, with that other peninsula Sithonia in the background.The steep rocks above the settlement gives a good impression of the steepness. We were separated from the skete by a deep, wooded valley. Daniiléon is dedicated to hagiography. It was founded by the monk Daniel Daniilidis.Finally, when we were down at 200 meters, you reach a t-crossing. On the left the monopati leads to arsanas Katounákia and on the right the path goes to Agia Anna. Near that crossing we found one of the most peculiar phonebooths on Athos. You need a card to operate it. We didn’t use it. We wondered how many pilgrims or monks would ever use this phone. Maybe it is just forgotten by OTE, the Greek Telephone company (ΟργανισμόςΤηλεπικοινωνιώνΕλλάδοςΑ.Ε.). It looks forgotten, anyway.The view to the southern end of Katounákia. It consists of 17 cells scattered around on a rather large surface. The cells are not only known for hagiography but also for their wood carving. The photo mergers the sea and sky in a infinitive horizon.The view to the northern end to a skete called Kimíseos Theotókou. The area is called Mikra Agia Anna. Close to each other are several kelli like Genisios Timios, Apotomis Timiou Prodromou and Anastaséos Christou. The buildings are situated in a fold in the mountain and are quite hidden from the sea. Here we see more renewable sun energy for the monks.
It’s very steep here. The terraced way of building makes the houses accessible and makes it possible to grow vegetables.Another cell on the edge. In the background we see the famous Monastery Simonos Pétras with its acqueduct and its arsanas. As the crow flies still at least 8 kilometres away.A very bright wild flower, the Euphorbia dendroides (tree spurge), that only grows on protected and sunny mountainsides in hilly areas. A poisonous plant but its sap is used to cure skin problems since ancient times and it makes you vomit. (Wikipedia).The dirt road to Paulou leaves the worst zigzag scars on the whole of Athos. I would like to see that undone. Not even Euphorbia helps to heal those deep scars in the skin of the Holy Mountain.
Pilgrim Jacques made a fascinating picture of four mules enjoying their freedom, without any loads. The dark blue sky contrasts with the sunny patches and gives the images a threatening atmosphere.
The monopati, taken from a little shrine in a cave. Just behind the bend the path continues to the scattered dwellings of Skiti Agia Anna, where we will arrive next time.