Bulgaria day 5: Climb every mountain but don’t make hay too

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June 20th 2018
Published: June 20th 2018
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Bulgaria day 5: Climb every mountain but don’t make hay too

Yes, after walking 13 miles round Sofia yesterday we deserved a rest so we lay in until 7am! Crazy I know but, as the first cable car didn’t go until 8:30, we thought we’d go nuts.

So after breakfast we headed to the gondola station. Having made some booboos on previous climbs this time we were determined to be prepared. So we had shorts and long trousers, coats, sun cream, hats and umbrellas. We even had water as well as two packs of Refreshers and a packet of Cherry Drops. We were ready for anything.....although I have to admit to being a tad envious of those that had made sandwiches....

The cable car was £6 each return, took 25 minutes and took us up just over 1000m height wise. There were two rows of seats, one facing up, one facing down and we sat facing down as two Bulgarian lads had the prime seat. So after a while we get to a station and the doors open....and we get out....but the Bulgarians don’t follow or try and tell us anything. Luckily someone who worked there looked at us like we’d got off the plane in the Maldives instead of Sri Lanka (see previous blog) and said ‘get back in you pair of numpties’. Actually he just smiled at us with pity and gesticulated for us to get back in. Not like us to make nobs of ourselves!

Eventually we made it to the top and got out at the right place. As this was the only none-rainy day forecast for this week it looked like quite a few others were taking advantage of this too. There are a number of walks from the cable car, as well as ski slopes of course, but we were heading for the peak of the heighest mountain in the Balkans, Mount Musala.

We heard yesterday that the Greeks were so jealous that Mount Musala was taller than Mount Olympus that they once tried dragging rocks to the top of Mt Olympus to try and make it taller. They failed, although we can’t remember why, so they remain jealous.

Anyway, I asked Claire how tricky this mountain scaling was and she said the first hour is pretty easy then it gets a bit harder. And the first hour or so was pretty much hiking although there were too many downhills for our liking....as these would be uphills on the way back.

There were two kinds of markers guiding the way with one being a red line between two white lines that was painted on rocks every so often. The second were lots of painted red arrows which all pointed towards the peak. If you’re the sort of person that just HAS to follow instructions then you’ll never make it down as every time you see a red arrow you’d have to follow it back to the top. Claire said it was okay for us to follow the arrows even though they pointed the wrong way so I worried less about whether we would make it down.

Just less note....given our previous experiences....

After passing a few buildings things got more difficult and people were taking different routes despite most places being signed as previously mentioned in too much detail. And then there was an uphill bit where we could see no directions. I followed what looked like a path that ended up being a stream and we eventually made it up that bit.

There were large patches of snow that had turned brown on top as it had dust and soil blown on it. We have instructions for yellow snow but nothing on when it’s brown so I made a snowball anyway and threw it near Claire. I’m not daft enough to throw it AT Claire!

And on we went. There were some little wooden bridges, quite a few lakes and lots of going uphill. From the gondola station we still had nearly 2000m to go up, as in vertical, UP! There was some scrambling up and over rocks before we got to the bit where we actually had to climb.

We’d just scrambled over some scree and loose earth which earned a Bravo from someone for Claire when we saw what came next. We’d followed the path round but it had come to an end with deep snow ahead or the scrambling. There had been an alternative route earlier but that looked crazy as it was actual climbing but there was a cable running between posts to help you.

Soon though we had no choice. We had to climb and the only was down very quickly either side. After some effort we finally made it to the top and took the obligatory photos at the peak. 2925m up.

I should point out that the views are spectacular: mountains, clouds, lakes, snow, the odd building and some colour due to the flora. Needless to say we have taken quite a lot of photos....

Now all we had to do was get back down to the cable car for 6pm cos after that you either wait till morning or walk some more.... Unusually for us, getting there in time was never in doubt. Well unless Claire had done more damage when she slipped or that tree hadn’t been there for me to grab hold of when I tripped.... But meh, that’s normal for us.

Claire wasn’t happy apparently at my efforts today and wanted me to start making hay. I know I need to lose some weight but I just climbed a mountain for goodness sake! All I said was I would take a photo as the sun was shining and she told me to make hay while the sun shines. Thankfully the sun went in for a bit and I didn’t have to do any haymaking. Harsh though.

We made it to the cable cars at just after 5 so had spent the better part of 8 hours walking, scrambling and climbing. The climbing down over rhe rocks whilst utilising the cable was pretty tridky but better than sliding down the scree I mentioned earler.

Despite the vast quantities of food we’d consumed....ahem, we were rather hungry and so headed to the Happy Duck for lunch an dinner combined. I had some Bulgarian soup which was lovely and then some sach which was superb. There was loads but I managed it all feeling I’d earnt it.

We went back to the apartment pretty early....well we do have a 6:20am train to catch tomorrow....and the station is a two hour drive away.....

My watch tells me I’ve doubled my move goal, septupled my exercise goal and done over 13 miles today. But will it give me a day off tomorrow and offer to carry over some of this fine work? Hell no, it will just suggest I do it again. Git.

PS Walking poles, or wa*ky sticks as we call them. They’re not big, they’re not clever and trying to climb with them makes you look a bit naff to say the least, especially when they’re clattering all over the place. They’re about as much use as a chicken fillet in a Quorn factory and make you look about as sensible as Donald Trump in....well.....just Donald Trump.....and no-one wants to look that stupid surely!

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