11/08/2013 A different sort of training, I have just come back from 2 lovely days in the hills with a friend from Sofia, he is a very busy political bee up there and juggling work and a growing family with what are turning out to be “interesting times” in Sofia has meant we haven’t seen him in our hills for nearly a year now. We started out on Friday afternoon by getting the Dobrinishtay chair lift up to Bez Bog hut, I had assumed that a late start would mean we would be able to fly along the 6 hour trail to Tevno hut in the cool of the afternoon. Fly we did, getting to the hut in under 4 hours but the still, windless heat in the circus below Kralev Dvor was hellish. Being ginger I am not exactly designed to deal with sun and heat but practice and preparation means I don’t normally suffer. Friday was an exception, I arrived in Tevno feeling a little dry and a little warm.
Tevno is a happy place for me, the hut sits on the side of a lake at 2500m surrounded by little peaks and overshadowed by the impressive north face of Kamenitsa . The hut itself is a very basic affair run by three very friendly if overworked locals. All the food is brought up from Bansko by donkey and cooked over a small wood fired stove by Valia. Do not expect much but after a long days march into the middle of the park, homemade soup with salad and meat balls all served with a smile and a cold beer is better than anything a 3* Michelin chef could ever rustle up! The hut itself is a little too warm, claustrophobic, ripe and sardine-esque for me so I take a bivvy bag and sleep out in the meadows. It makes for a pretty bumpy bed but the stars make up for the mattress!
The route down from Tevno was new to me so every corner brought a surprise and every ridge a new horizon. It’s a real pleasure to explore new bits of Pirin as there are always surprises. We saw some truly splendid lakes that are hidden in folds of the landscape a few wild deer/goats and a lot of cattle. The whole mountain grazing thing is either an ancient habit renewed in recent years or a totally new thing. Either way I am not 100% sure about how good this is for the park as the cattle are pretty brutal on what is a very delicate eco system. The one joy in having all these beasties wandering around is that occasionally you come round a corner and bump into a splendid example of a prime beef. All good if you are used to cattle and their stroppy ways. The fun really starts when townies get their first face to face experience of a ton of testosterone filled beef!
The trek really isn’t that hard and for a first taster of high Pirin it is a great route, take 8 hours for the first day (it is only really 4 or 5 hours of walking) and stop after ever climb for a long break and you will barely notice the distance. The second day is probably 6 and a half hours of proper walking but if you start early in the morning and finish late in the afternoon you will not really notice the effort involved. The trail is mainly flatish with some steep descents over rocks but nothing too hard. The joy of the hut being a little crowded and hot is that you’ll wake up early so you’ll have lots of time!
Due to my trekking partner being a bit of an expert on Bulgarian politics we spent a lot of time in lively debate about BG and I got some training in the inner workings of this fascinating land!
On a totally different tip Di and I went into the west end of Pirin last Sunday. WOW what a cool area, untouched, near as dam it, we found a ridge as exciting as Koncheto a whole forest of mountain ash where an avalanche had obviously knocked back all the other trees. There is a fantastic view down into Baiovi Dupki which is an almost inaccessible hanging valley near Yavarov hut. In some ways I find it tragic that the average visitor to Bansko will never get a chance to see these places. Then I look at the damage cause by the hoards that march up and down Vihren every day in the summer and maybe it is a good thing that the park authorities do not maintain trails into these more wild areas.