2098 – Panaghia and the hike to the peak of Mount Athos

the bell at the Panaghia refuge

It took us 5 hours to walk from Kavsokalivia to the Panaghia refuge (see post 2095) and we arrived at one o’clock PM. We planned to arrive as early as possible, hoping to get a place to sleep in the dormitory in the refuge. But a large group of Serbian pilgrims had arrived earlier and all beds had been taken. But the weather was fine and we decided to roll out our camping mattresses and sleeping bags that we brought, and sleep under the open skies on the terrace outside.

The dormitory in the refuge: all beds were taken.
After a long and warm climb: relaxing in the warm autumn sun, checking phones and sunbathing at Panaghia refuge

The water from the well did not look promising, because small particles floated in the liquid. But various sources had assured us it was drinking water and that we could drink it without having health problems. We took the risk because we ran out of water and we had a long climb ahead of us. And we did not had any stomach problems afterwards. After photographing the interior I had some time to have a look in the surroundings of the building:

A view from the Panaghia terrace: looking south and 1500 meter down: Kerasia
Turning the camera to the left: the south-east, Agios Nilos, cape Akratos and Prodromou.
Looking up, to the north: the Metamorphosis chapel at the peak, 2033 meters above sea level
In the left corner below you can see the toilet building, which is still under construction: there is no flowing water (yet), although it looks as if attempts are being made to get running water here. The contemporary hygienic conditions in the toilets are not ideal……
The same counts for this garbage dump: here the pilgrims throw out their waste (-plastic- bottles, food and tins), and I presume somebody burns this garbage every now and then. I think this is a shameful solution and unacceptable behaviour. Every pilgrim should take his own responsibility and bring down whatever they take up to the Holy Mountain, not leaving anything behind. A real pilgrim should throw their own waste out at a place where it can be collected in a proper way. It is not difficult to do this, just bring a bag. Polluting the garden of the Holy Virgin is a NO GO!
Diner time at 1500 meters
The shadow of the mountain in the sea at sunset.
An old pine tree near Panaghia
a black and white picture of a large pine tree
sunset over Sithonia
a panoramic view
after the sun went down: the sickle-shaped moon rises. This picture is also used in our weblog header.
the silhouettes of pine trees on Mount Athos

And then it got dark. Not just dark, but completely dark I mean. Within many, many miles there are no electric lights here and this has its effect on the skies above. I have seen many starry skies in Europe or anywhere else in the world, even on top of Mount Kilimanjaro, but this starry sky, almost on top of Mount Athos, really beats everything. The sky was so clear and the Milky way galaxy was so impressive, it gave me goose bubbles. Because the light of the small moon already did disappear, our spot on the Panaghia terrace was still dimly lit, illuminated by the stars above us. An amazing experience! Tired and satisfied we went to sleep in the open air, knowing that at five o’clock in the morning our alarm bell would ring, to the climb the last part to the peak.

The hike to the top 2033 meter high: a climb of almost 500 meters in one hour
Waking up at 5 PM: head lights on, leaving our luggage at Panaghia
The zig-zag path going up: the temperature was a lot cooler, 15 C, but warm enough to start sweating again
5.45 h: arriving at the top of Mount Athos. Apart from another visitor, who slept overnight on the top, we were the only ones. A hard wind was blowing, so it felt a lot colder here.
6.15 h: sunrise at Mount Athos 1-10-2019
The Athos peninsula in dim light and in the morning mist
the shadow of the mountain (photo Gert Jan Wiekart)
the pyramid shaped shadow in detail (photo Gert Jan Wiekart)
me on the top: 6.30 h.
Old graffiti carved in the marble from for exemple 1810
6.35: time to go down again, while others just make it to the top (too late for the sunrise!)
the zig-zagging path: a walking stick is a welcome aid
at the tree line: pines
almost back at Panaghia
7.30 h.: back at Panaghia. Time pack our things and hike back to Stavros and via Agia Anna to Agiou Pavlou monastery.

Wim Voogd, 19-01-2020

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3 Responses to 2098 – Panaghia and the hike to the peak of Mount Athos

  1. Jitze Bakker says:

    Mooie blog en fraaie beelden

  2. Gerard Koolschijn says:

    Beautiful experience, mr Voogd! Do I see on picture 8 (Agios Neilos) Prodromou in the distance?

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