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 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.
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
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).
Wim Voogd, 5/6