Artha had the idea of spending a few days in the Bulgarian mountains: enjoying nature, hiking, chilling, and sleeping in the mountain huts. She wanted to show her brother the mountains, and when she asked me if I would like to accompany them, I was immediately enthusiastic about the idea.
We packed our backpacks and took two trains from Varna to Dobrinishte in the Pirin national park. For me, it was the first time I went hiking and mountaineering with a big backpack, and when we got on the train, I felt that I had taken too much stuff. The train was super cool. In Germany, it’s super rare to get a real train. A train that makes noises, rattles in its own beat over the rails, and lets its horn shout before it passes a street. And after we changed to the second train, it got even better! This one got really, really slow and crawled up the mountains at about 40 km/h or less through tight corners, forests, past cliffs and the views were fantastic. We saw a beautiful sunrise and the ten to eleven hour train ride felt like a good transition from the city to the mountains.
From Dobrinishte we hiked and hitched to the base of Mount Bezbog. When I had been on that mountain with Rosinante, I drove all the way to the Bezbog hut (open the post about that), and this time we hiked there. It was interesting to feel the difference between these two ways.
We planned to stay one night at the Bezbog hut, but since it was still quite early, we continued on our way to the Bezbog summit. I loved how easy and straightforward we made this change of plans. Lake Bezbog was as beautiful as I remembered and the weather was perfect. From Bezbog peak we went to Polezhan peak. And there we changed our plan and headed for Demyanitsa hut.
But instead of taking the main trails, we chose the more direct route. The view was breathtaking, but as time went by the path became more and more difficult and the trail markings became less and less. We climbed down over large rocks and loose, icy slopes. We lost the trail and it took us hours to cover a few kilometers. It felt exciting and super adventurous. But I noticed I was unfocused and slipped a little several times. Artha and her brother felt the same way, and we all felt the hours we had already hiked. But as the sunlight dimmed, we had done the tricky part and I felt very good. At this point, I felt super good with my big backpack. It almost felt like a part of me.
I had never hiked in the mountains in the dark before and felt like would prefer not doing it. But as darkness fell, it felt super easy and it was nice to explore the mountains in a different way. The sounds felt more intense and it was wonderful. When we arrived at the Demyanitsa hut, we were tired and super hungry. The hut seemed empty, but then we met a woman and were overjoyed to find the kitchen still in operation. The bean soup, the fries, and the bread tasted so good… At that point there could not have been any better.
After a refreshing and vital night, we continued our journey. The next destination was the Vihren hut. On the way there, I felt the connection between Artha and me change (as I described in the last post), but this time I felt very different about it. Instead of thinking and in a way telling myself that it’s all good, I felt pure compassion for her and me and a strong equanimity. Before it had been feeling like I was calming myself with thoughts on mental comments. Now it felt pure and loveful. I felt happy about it. Relieved and happy. But a part of me was desperate to share this new way that felt so healthy and good. And the person I most wanted to share it with, I couldn’t reach out to.
On our way to Vihren hut, we came along beautiful lakes, peaks, and trails, took breaks to meditate and the weather was still perfect.
The next morning, we got up very early before sunrise because the route we had planned was the longest of our mountain tour. I had never seen a sunrise while hiking up a peak. It was wonderful! The sun crept slowly over peaks, her light cast moving shadows on cliffs and slopes, and the colors and their changes were magnificent.
When I had been at Vihren summit on my own, there had been absolutely no view (open the post about it). This time we had a magnificent view and even better, our route took us to a neighboring peak where we had a gorgeous view of the rock face of Vihren Peak that I loved so much. From there, we took a route along the most beautiful ridge I’ve ever seen. I love ridges and hiking on them. This one was fantastic!
Our route took us down the mountain to Yavorov hut, where we spent our last night in the mountains. The next day we hiked to Razlog and spent some time there until our first train would leave. There, a funny thing happened. It seemed to me that Artha was opening towards me again, but I still had the impression that she was looking for a fight or something. It was strange, but interesting. In the end, we had a fight. But a completely over-the-top, silly one that was more fun than anything else. And it felt liberating and compassionate. And again there was this transformation of heavy energy into something else.
We took the slow train down the mountains and it was super cool again. On the train that took us back to Varna, we slept for most of the ride.
All the days of this trip I felt super fit and like I could go on and on. I thought about what it would be like to travel with a mule again.