Easier done than said.
Guide books describe this hike as strenuous with 1,400 meter climb and more than 20 km. That 1,400 meters was cumulative–the climb to the pass was only 900 meters. The trail was very good. What was going to be the toughest climb I’ve ever attempted turned out to be No Big Deal.
No Big Deal physically, that is. Visually, it was very big indeed. Emotionally–well, we old farts just finished crossing the Accursed Mountains. Not just hiking into them–we crossed them.
We started at 6:30. The horseman was surprised at our light load.
Our path was clear before us.
Here’s a close-up. The pass is pretty obvious.
First, we went over the gravel from the recent flood. I was very glad the sun wasn’t on it, but it distressed me to see the horse struggle.
Then up through trees. The cliff face of Mt Arapit close up was magnificent.
After only an hour, Okol was 1,000 feet down.
It felt good to just stand there an contemplate what we had done so effortlessly.
The trail to the pass was vanilla. No exposure, no tricky stuff. Then wham, bang, in less than 3 hours, we are in another world.
Tall cliffs followed us a long way. Photos don’t capture the enormity of our surroundings.
Lots of flowers underfoot, especially in the meadows.
Then the border–if anyone cares anymore. This marker has fallen over. There was no border control.
Our guide left us when we got to the road to Vusanjë. We redid our packs and started out. Almost immediately, it began to rain.
Despite the fact that this was Friday the 13th, we spied a cave.
We stayed there about an hour and had a snack with cold Cokes we had stored in the pack. The mountains were beautiful in the rain.
Then we hiked another 5 km or so to Vusanjë.
In Vusanjë, we saw a wooden minaret, perhaps the most beautiful minaret I’ve ever seen.
Roger was ready to walk another 6 km to Gusinjë, but it was still drizzling and I’d had enough. I stopped at a house and asked to call a taxi to Gusinjë. The man told his son to drive us. We paid what a taxi would have cost.
We got a room in Gusingë’s hotel and had a very good meal. After 5 nights of full board, it was nice to choose what we wanted. The crowning touch on the day was a free bowl of ice cream.
Tomorrow: we’ll decide tomorrow.