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.
Exciting stuff Ben!
Congratulations. It sounds as if you had a great journey. Enjoy your rest.
Amazing that you’re facing snow at this time of year. But cold is better than hot. Push on hard while it’s comfortable. Get ahead of your schedule if you can. A hot summer coming.
I’ll do my best.
Thank you Ben to give us news and to share these moments with beautiful pictures! Good rest and take care of yourself 😉
Wow these pictures are stunning ! Hope you both stay warm!
Loving reading your adventures Ben, you write so well too , looking forward to the next post . Have fun x