Km 299 to km 404 – Uzana Hut to Anton
03/05/2022 – 26km
Well it’s starting to get an alpine route feeling. Today was cold and snowy as I’m getting higher.
At one point I took a lower route around a peak, but had to turn around at a gully filled with hard snow. I got half way across it, but sense prevailed and I retreated and went over the top.
I stopped hiking at 1:30 due to the snow. The next hut is 11km away and much higher up, and it didn’t feel like a wise decision to go for it in such poor weather.
The weather should be at least clearer tomorrow, if not warmer (-10 on the peak). The guys at the hut helped me figure out a route that should be feasible.
One of them spoke excellent English and he offered a lot of insights into Bulgarian ways.
04/05/2022 – 25km of the trail, plus a detour of 6km
Today I went over Botev Peak (the highest of the Kom-Emine trail). It was a complete white out for the few hours I was on the mountain, but thankfully it was well marked with poles to follow. At some points the visibility was so bad from one pole I couldn’t make out the next one (usually about 15-20m away). This is the first time I’ve used my small compass, in all the years I’ve had it along on my hikes.
Due to the recent bad weather I decided to skip around the hardest parts of the following ridge. Although, just as I’d descended to a lower path, the sky cleared. Perhaps it would have been doable after all. I’ll never know.
05/05/2022 – 41km of the trail, plus 3.5 to a nearby hut.
A beautiful calm and clear morning. I spent the whole day cruising along a ridge with only minor elevation changes. Only at the very end of the day did things become difficult.
I had to descend off of the ridge to get to a hut, however I chose the wrong path (north facing) and found myself on a steep snow slope. I didn’t know for how long the snow would continue, so I pushed on. I’m confident on snow, but perhaps in this case that was a bad thing.
After crossing the first difficult patch of snow the sunk-cost-fallacy kicked in and I was reluctant to turn back. Around each bend I hoped that the snow would abate, and each time that I saw it kept going I had to take a few deep breaths, calm my nerves and just focus on clearing the next section. I don’t know if it was life threatening, but a slip would have put me in a very desperate situation. Thankfully the snow was just soft enough for me to be able to sort of kick steps into it, but it was far riskier than I should have tolerated. After a kilometre or two of this I was completely drained, physically and emotionally.
Luckily I made it through okay, but I leave the experience feeling rather chastened. We live and learn.
06/05/2022 – 13km of the trail, plus 7km into town.
A short day, back up the same mountain from yesterday (Vezhen), along the ridge a bit then dropping down into the town of Anton.
They seemed to be setting up for some kind of celebration. I asked someone and they told me it was St George’s Day. Which apparently involves the slaughtering of lambs.
From Anton I got the train to Sofia (a 2 hour journey for only €2.38!). Now I’m putting my feet up and enjoying a lot of food until Zach arrives tomorrow evening.