2268 – FoMA footpath team 2022 – part 3.01: the Ridge path above Vatopedi to Chera

At 6 o’clock we woke up for our next day of cleaning the Mount Athos footpaths: breakfast was served at 6.30, with delicious calamaris, potatoes. olives and a glass of rosé wine.

Our crew at the breakfast table. the other pilgrims were still in church

Our aim for this day was to clear the paths that are part of the so-called Ridge path or the Way of the Bay. On the map below from Google Earth you can see the entire route we cleared:

But first let’s take a closer look at the first part, which ended in a little adventure.

7.20 PM First we passed the Vatopedi checkpoint, which, as you can see, we were allowed to pass.
7.40 AM: sunrise near the drop-off point, with Thasos on the horizon
The drop-off point with an iron cross on a concrete base
At the beginning of the path we thought we should clear, Tsjeu started cutting down the first tree.
This old sign says: Apo monopati IM Docheiariou, IM Konstamonitou and IM Sografou.

There was also an official FoMA sign at the beginning of this path. At that time we did not have a clue what would happen later and that we should have followed the dirt road ….

At first, 90% of the trail was easy to walk, but later it became more and more difficult, with fallen trees blocking the way

A sign that belongs to FoMA has grown into a tree, probably a long time ago…….
At a certain point we passed this waterless stone spring, dating from 1890
I could read the words DIM Konst(amonitou?) and Liariko(?) Xarx.dox and … / ….1890
Then we passed this huge dead tree. When we looked closer, it looked like someone had once lived there, because we saw corrugated iron that may have served as a roof?
Maybe a place where a hermit once lived?

Shortly after we passed this big tree, we got into real trouble, because the trail completely disappeared from view. You could tell that years ago the forest was crushed by an avalanche that wiped out the trail. Trees were scattered all over the area and they were overgrown with weeds and vines, it was almost impossible to move on. Every member of our team struggled to find a way, shouting to each other through the forest to hear an update on their efforts. It was almost impenetrable even with our loppers, until Lukas (the young man in the photo above) finally managed to find his way through. He kind of saved us, so we shouldn’t have to walk all the way back.

Shortly after we made the climb out of the avalanche area, we were welcomed by Father Nifon, who has a cell with his brother nearby. He had heard us calling to each other and he yelled back, but we didn’t hear him (and couldn’t reach him anyway). He told us that every now and then pilgrims take this path by accident and come out bruised and sometimes injured, happy to finally meet someone. He said it would be best to close the trail until the trees in the avalanche area are completely cleared. We did indeed close the trail on our last day on the way back to Dafni. But the path is beautiful and it would be good if it could be used again at some point in the future (the alternative is a boring walk on a gravel road).

The cell of Father Nifon
the vegetable garden of Father Nifon
Bart and father Nifon view the map before departure

Wim Voogd, 5/6

This entry was posted in Trip 2022, walking and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply