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.