So, the end of the “Balkan Gap”. In 12km (tomorrow) I’ll join the Via Dinarica White Trail, and be on to the 3rd section of the TEAR.
Km 951 to km 1046, Prizren (Kosovo) to Valbona Valley National Park (Albania)
25/05/2022 – 45km
The toughest day yet. 45km mostly on the road in more than 30° heat. Apologies in advance for a bit of whining and woe-is-me-ism, but I’m not going to pretend it’s always fun.
I got a little sunburnt on my leg, and an insect bite from a couple of days ago remains swollen by my ankle. My legs really started to feel the strain towards the end, and I think I was hobbling the last few kilometres. Now that I’ve stopped I can barely walk.
I’m staying in a guesthouse tonight again and fingers crossed that one night of rest is enough to recover.
26/05/2022 – 49km
Praise to the hiking gods that I woke up this morning and my legs felt fine.
Upon further reading and reflection I think my leg cramps yesterday were largely caused by dehydration. I’m also thinking the sun exposure didn’t help.
I’d already booked my accomodation for tonight back in Prizren, an ambitious 49km away. I was keen to try and learn some lessons from yesterday and see how I’d get on.
I covered up my legs, used my “sunbrella” and drank 3 litres of fruit juice over the course of the day (in addition to lots of water). It seems to have worked, since I feel just the normal amount of fatigued after having hiked 30 miles.
Today I also crossed into Albania, and will soon be crossing out again (tomorrow or early the day after). I watched all day as the mountains drew closer. Tomorrow could be quite interesting. The weather forecast is pretty bad, but who knows, it could be wrong.
Wow, sounds tough Ben. Good to read that today was better. Can you walk early enough to avoid the heat of the day? How about the new shoes- any good?
Yes, I usually start early, but to do the distance I usually have to go through the day. Also I find it very hard to sit around. If it’s really hot I might go from shade to shade taking mini-breaks.
The new shoes are fine. I’ve used them enough to know they’ll be okay. Now I’ll use my old one again until they wear out or I need the space in my bag (that the new shoes take up).
Hey Ben, congrats. You made good time through the last section and the next two will be a nice reward. Just a heads up, I’ve been corresponding with another hiker doing a long section starting with the Via Dinarica and he was turned back by lingering snow roughly a week ago in the Albanian Alps you’re about to encounter. Hopefully conditions have improved but I’m guessing by the time you read this you’ll have seen everything for yourself.
Thanks for the info. The forecast is also for lots of rain (possibly snow up high?) and storms the next few days.
I guess I’ll just have to start and see what it’s like. But I’ll try and keep backup options in mind.
I like to read about the not so glamour things about thru-hiking. Always welcome to whine!
Also, that fruit Juice looks tasty. I crave those sweet Eastern Europe fruit juices.
Keep it up buddy!
Hey, Ben! Nice to see your progress. Stay safe and good luck!