Km 165 to km 299 – Kotel to Uzana Hut
29/04/2022 – 32km
I think the word subdued sums up today rather well. It was a bit cloudy and cool, which is ideal for hiking, but I was in a melancholy mood for most of the day.
The way was relatively easy, and I tried not to hike as far today to give my body more time to rest. Unfortunately (for the prospect of vistas) the hill tops I’ve been going over are tree-covered, so no spectacular views.
One interesting thing is that I had a deer bark at me today, I think in alarm, not aggression. I’ve heard them before, but this was a first time seeing it.
The old lady who ran the guest house that I stayed at in Kotel gave me a bag of walnuts to take with me which was very nice of her.
30/04/2022 – 37km
Uneventful, but a better mood today. Very cold and thick fog in the morning. In forest most of the day. I stayed in a free shelter maintained by a local hiking association. It was simple but dry, unlittered and unvandalised, which is more than can be said about most of these buildings.
I had to use some pages from The Economist to get the fire going.
01/05/2022 – 35km
Another foggy start, but it quickly cleared, and then the day was beautiful and sunny. I saw a snowy mountain in the distance, I guess I’ll be there in a day or two.
I spent a lot of the day lost in thought, planning my next few days. I’m in a national park where camping is forbidden, so I’ve been looking at where the various huts/shelters are figuring out where to leave the trail to meet Zach in Sofia.
The hut I intended to stay at tonight is closed due to them working on it (I think now is that quiet time between the winter and summer tourist seasons). The “boss” seemed a bit annoyed at my turning up, but agreed to find me somewhere to sleep (see the pictures). I went downstairs later on to make dinner and he was very friendly and welcoming, offering food and drink and trying to chat. So I have a (somewhat worn out) bed, electricity and wifi for free. Yet more kindness from strangers.
02/05/2022 – 30km of the trail, plus a detour down into a town (Shipka) that added 8km.
I passed by many national monuments today. It seems that there were some important battles and events that took place in these high passes. I had lunch at one of the many restaurants set up to cater to tourists (such as myself). A big plate of real food, dessert and a drink all for €5, in a tourist hotspot! I’m going to miss this.
I can now make out clearly that it’s Botev peak that I am slowly approaching. It’s the highest of the trail and this mountain range at 2376m.
Today also marks 4 years since I started hiking the PCT.
You’re making great progress,Ben. You’ll be there in no time. Of course that’s not the point.
Hi Ben just caught up again with you and where you are! Your descriptions of your journey are so awesome. And your pictures are wonderful!
Especially love the forests. And always happy to see you eating prepared meals!
Thanks for sharing this amazing journey!
Will catch up with you again soon ! Happy trails 🤗