Tuesday, August 13, 2013


Yesterday the Sofia team climbed Rila, the largest mountain on the Balkan Peninsula. We started out with a plan to take a ski lift to a spot about a 3 hour hike from Musala, the top of the mountain.  However we soon learned that particular ski lift was closed for maintenance for the next two days.  So we took the smaller sky lift that would drop us off 6 hours from the top.

This put a serious crimp in our plans.  We had planed to take the first lift ride up, casually walk to the top, take some pictures, and casually walk back down to catch the last lift back to our car.  Still, we had all day to get up and down again, and if for some reason we ran out of time, we could just go back having had a fun day on the mountain.

Though we were all smiles as our trip began, it was hard not to look at the peek so far away and wonder if we would make it.

The walk up was long.  It took us about 6 hours to get to the top.  It was worth every step.  The views were amazing.

My favorite part was a climb up a steep slope of rocks just after we passed the Musala Hut (a cabin where hikers can spend the night).  It was a hard climb, but when we reached the top we found a beautiful lake with Kenny sitting next to it (because he was so much faster than Sasha and me).

We had to stop every so often to check the map to make sure we were on the right path.  As the route became more rocky we had to count on the trail markings to find our way.  The higher we got the harder the trail became.

At the top of the mountain we reached ice lake.  The landscape was almost totally devoid of life.  The largest animal we saw was some sort of bird of pray (probably an eagle) that made a sound that sounded like a deer call.

After Ice Lake, we climbed what little was left of the mountain into the clouds.  After six hours of hiking we reached the top.

Sasha at the peek.
It took us 6 hours to get to the top, so we only had 3:20 to get back to the lift.  We went as quickly as we could.  We didn't make it, which meant another 40 minutes of walking to get to our car.  Every step of the way hurt.  A lot.  But it was worth it.

Before leaving the mountain we stopped to get a bite to eat.  We were tired, but happy.  It was a great day.

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