A Dutch hair stylist and vlogger from Rotterdam climbed to the top of the mountain last July. He made a funny ego-video of his hike, with the use of a drone!
Wim Voogd (thanks Vasílis)
As Boris predicted, there was a sign guiding us to Chilandariou. A bit later than expected. But still there was a sign. Here with pilgrim Jaap who is preparing his walking sticks.
Due to the devasting fire the landscape had changed, as we will see. And even the dirt road takes part of the erosion process. The road is washed out and only accessible by four-wheel-drive.The clearance of the trees gives room for smaller plants and shrubberies to develop. Changes give new opportunities for new plants. The burnt wood leaves nutrition in the soil. An abundant amount of flowers appeared in large fields giving a picturesque view on the Holy Mountain. An inspiration for impressionists.These man-high thistles with their intense purple flowers contrast nicely with the clean white clouds and the green stalks.The dirt road twists and turns to reach the highest point on a range of hills. Then it binds the one top of the hill with the next. And that continues for a long and winding time. It is hard to get lost here. All is very clear and open. There are practically no crossings.The lack of trees gives wide open views on the surroundings. Here we are looking north and see the old wind mill of Chromitsa, known for its wine fields. The wind mill has changed its source of energy from wind into solar power. Behind it we see the profane beaches of the town Stratoni, with its much disputed gold mines in the hills above the town.
This part of Athos is almost without any human activity. There are no monasteries or sketes. No buildings what so ever. Only the dirt road. It is an impressive emptiness. Sydney Loch, who lived in the Byzantine tower in Ouranopolis used to walk here from his home town via Chromitsa, and Proto Nero, the first water, to Chilandariou, the first monastery.We discovered an artificial lake, used as an water reservoir. It will take a while before this a full grown forest again, if it ever happens. The fire was extinguished on august the 12th in the year 2012. Most of the images of the aftermath of the fire have been taken from the ferry. But here, in the inland, walking through the vast hilly and barren lands, the immense impact of the fire grabbed me by the throat.A clear symbol of the fire. The fir tree blackened by the fire and bleached by the sun with mount Athos as a back drop. The fresh greenish vegetation represents the hope for the future.Pilgrims Jacques and Jaap on their way. The evolution puts us back on four feet again with the aid of the walking sticks. We had planned to go to Chilandariou but is was fully booked. So we decided to take the risk and try our luck in Esfigmenou. We know about their reputation but they have been very kind to us before, so we hoped we could receive hospitality there. If not, we would try Chilandariou again. And if that would not work, we would sleep outside for a night. Under the clear sky.Clear sky? Suddenly black clouds packed over our heads. We were still walking on a ridge and very exposed. No shelter for miles. No place to hide. A thunder made me quiver. We unpacked our rain gear. The disturbing weather moved away quickly to our relief. There were only a few thick drops of rain.On the northern site of the ridge the road drops. The landscape here looks terraced like Indonesian flooded rice-fields. As if it had been used a long time ago.Because of the fire we couldn’t find any of the red trails, the monopati, that were indicated on our maps in this part of Athos, that is called Zygos. The fire destroyed them all. Probably forever, unless the Friends of Mount Athos find their way here and do reconstruct the old paths. Which is rather unlikely because the trails in this part of Athos go from nowhere to nowhere.
The scan is taken from the very detailed Peter Howarth’s map of Athos (2016). I added a green line as an indication where we walked. Needless to say that we didn’t meet a living soul there, in the Athonian desert.
Bas Kamps, 5/7/2017
This is what Father Eusebios Christofi from Nea Skiti shared with us last Monday on Facebook: the Killer Tree Monk!The fig tree of Father Eusebiow is injected by the “Killer Tree Monk” with some kind of chemical, because the tree threathened to destroy his house!
Beware of the “Killer Tree Monk” in your own garden! LOL!
Wim, 5th July
In post 1922 I showed you the pictures from the exterior of this ruined Russian settlement, that is located near the Maroudá cell (green pin) -see the red arrow on the map above. Today we will take a closer look inside the kyriakon. The door to the kyraikon, with stairs to the first floor, where the main church is situated.Not only the debris that covers the stairs makes it a dangerous place to be: you’ll have to be aware not step on a rotten floor or fall in a hole!
The main church: the interior is typical for the Russian architecture on Athos: the walls are painted white, although I found a few paintings just beneath the dome:the domeA Saint or disciple writing with pen and paper, with a cow next to him Ioannis Chrysostomos(?), also with pen and paperA Saint a large beard and in a white cloth, with a book in his hand (and wings behind him?)
This is what Bertinos comments about the paintings (thanks!):
The first painting is indeed of the Evangelist Luke (with a winged bull), the second one is the Evangelist John (with an eagle), and the third one either (likely) the Evangelist Mark (with a winged lion) or Matthew (with an angel), but the photograph is to unclear to figure that out.On the floor I found many pieces of paper, almost lost forever because of their state of decayThis piece of paper reveiled a picture. When I took a closer look I discovered a picture of the building I was standing in!The kellion of St. John Chrysostomos, seen almost from the same angle as the postcard below!The complete “leaflet” from 1907 with its Russian text:The entrance to the church and the stairways in the background (with Efrem and Jizte). Above them a balcony, that I did not visit because of the danger of collapsing.A door to a room next to the churchA window in this room, that contained a special cubboard:The ossuary!More skulls in a nicheWith bones piled up in a cubboard.
Two windows in the side roomThe green “European” jungle outside is trying to conquer the buildingA wooden pilar and ceilingThe stairs to the second floor and the balcony: I did not try to go there!Going down the ground floorThe church seen through a hole, from the ground floorMe cautious leaving the building.After the visit to this ruin Efrem took us further on a exiting walk through the green jungle of Kapsala. Next time a few pictures of this hike!Wim Voogd, 1th of July (photo’s also by Tadeus and Jitze)