Km 21 to km 165 (Kotel)
25/04/2022 – 37km
Slow going in the morning, the track was very muddy and I had to frequently bushwhack around boggy sections. Coming into Kozichino village there was an old man riding a donkey; Bulgaria keeps fulfilling my expectations. I did my best to pace myself, taking many breaks, but I still was done with my hiking far too early (5pm). I finally started seeing what looks like mountains in the distance.
At multiple times throughout the day I’ve heard what sounds like the call to prayer (another first for me I think). However the times that I heard it don’t line up with the times I saw when I googled “call to prayer times Bulgaria”. Perhaps it’s something else related to Ramadan.
26/04/2022 – 34km
I passed through a lot of villages today, all boasting minarets.
The first half of the day was very wet and almost the whole day I was dealing with mud slowing me down. The plus side of the rain was that it brought out the salamanders.
I had a nice chat with a young kebab shop owner in Planinista who lived for years in Hamburg.
The hills are slowly starting to get higher.
27/04/2022 – 39km
Lovely morning. Hearing the call to prayer drifting up from the villages and diffusing into the wooded hills around me.
However a very tough day. Lots of overgrown trail, bushwhacking, losing my way. Very slow going, I was walking for over 12 hours. I guess it wouldn’t be an adventure without adversity.
28/04/2022 – 34km – 165km of the trail done, or just over 100 miles.
Most of the path today was wide and open, allowing me to cruise along easily.
At one point I came to an old resort, most of the buildings abandoned. One always wondered what these places looked like when they were full of life, if they ever were.
Only in the last few kilometres before I reached the road to the town of Kotel did my luck change. The trail became heavily covered over with hawthorn or blackthorn or in any case something very thorny. My pace slowed to a crawl and I had to drag myself and my backpack inch by inch. My legs are in quite a state from all the scratches. But hey ho, I’m staying at a guesthouse in town, living the high life.