Country that I neglected for too long with false idea that local mountains are no match to rugged peaks of Carpathians. In reality, I found one of the most beautiful mountains in Bulgaria and probably the most beatiful landscape I have ever seen. Mountains in which you can walk in snow one day and second day experience heat of semidesert below them. Country with a hint of Mediterranean which also keeps something of eastern wilderness.
Already from a great distance, Kamenitsa looks impressive. From the top of Vichren it is clear that Kamenitsa is one of the two highest peaks of the granite part of Pirin. Getting closer, it completely dominates the panorama of lake Tevno. When ideal conditions occur and the sun touches only the very summits, the view towards Kamenitsa becomes unforgettable.
Half an hour's hike from the hut at lake Tevno lies a relatively minor hill Valyavishki Chukar. However, the view from there includes almost the entire central Pirin. From Dzhangal through Momini Dvory and Kralev Dvor to the snowy Kamenitsa, which dominates directly above the lake. Vihren itself could be seen to the opposite site. Unlike Vihren, this central and eastern parts of the Pirin mountains are made of granite and do not look as monumental. But from my personal point of view, this part may be even more beautiful.
Hut at Tevno lake
The weather was clear all day, clouds piled only quite deep down in the valleys. If I had to bet on a good light, I wouldn't bet on this day. But then everything changed in the evening. By the time I was leaving the cottage by the lake, I already knew it would be worth it this time.
Swamps below Tevno lake
About 50 meters below the lake Tevno lies a smaller lake, slowly growing into the swamp. When I first saw this set of meanders from the hill above the hut, I knew I had to go there. It was necessary to find the right moment when the sun would be low enough, but at the same time still above the ridge in the west, so that the lake would be flooded by the late afternoon yellow light. View towards Momini Dvori and Kralev Dvor.
From early morning, the sun leans against the white pyramid of Vichren. With each passing hour, the temperature rises and sun heats the rocks around Lake Dalgoto. The path to the saddle of Bashlijska Porta rises sharply while only few places provide beneficial shade.
Evening at Dalgoto lake
Evening at Lake Dalgoto (Gorno Banderishko) overlooking Vichren and Kutelo. From here, it is hard to believe that there is only a few hours difference between this and the opposite view from Vihren to the lake. The difference between the summit and the Banerica valley nears vertical kilometer, so it is no wonder that the southeastern wall of Vihren looks monumental. Originally I didn't expect anything from this picture, in the end it is perhaps my favorite from the whole Pirin hike. The special icing on the cake are illuminated flocks of mosquitoes flying all around.
The famous edge Koncheto, named after "horse" position in which people passed it. Today, there is a fixed rope, but it is still the most interesting place of the entire Pirin hike. In one direction the slope falls 400 meters, in the other almost 800. Two easily recognizable silhouettes of the peaks Kutelo and Vichren, the two highest in the mountains, frame your view during entire journey.
The northern half of Pirin is made of white marble. Hard to find a similar place in Europe that would look like a huge white boulder thrown into the landscape. Mountains high and glowing, mountains without water. Here, just below the top of Bayuvi Dupki looking towards Rila mountains and Razlog and Bansko cities in the valley.
From Pirin to Rila
Not only the nearby peaks of Pirin shone in the morning light. View towards neighbouring Rila, separated from Pirin by a cloud belt, attracted me the most probably. When the first sunrays touched the highest clouds, it was simply perfect. View towards Musala, the highest peak of Bulgaria.
After a warm evening, a sharp cold wind greeted me outside in the morning. But it is difficult to imagine a more perfect scenery. The evening clouds sank deep into the valley between Pirin and Rila, and the sun, though still below the horizon, played a colorful spectacle. View of the marble ridge of northern Pirin with peaks of Banski Suchodol, Kutelo and Vichren. Somewhere in the distance behind the clouds you can find the highest Bulgarian peak - Musala.
On the edge
The most interesting things often happen where we would not even expect it. When the highest peaks of Pirin, Vichren and Kutelo, completely hid in the clouds again, the most interesting happened on the other side. A strip of fog so thin that the sun shone through it flooded the three peaks of Bayuvi Dupki and a colorful glow surrounded nearby rocks.
His Majesty Vichren
Pirin's highest peak, Vichren, emerged from the clouds every now and then. The rocky peak towered menacingly over the surrounding landscape, suggesting that the ascent would not be entirely trivial. The northern secured ascent route can be seen in the form of an oblique joint leading towards the shaded parts of the peak.
Pirin in clouds
Thunders still resonated in the distance but main ridge of Pirin slowly rised from clouds. Even the highest peak Vihren sometimes appeared for a moment to hide again. Hardly I could imagine better place to be in that exact moment than Koncheto shelter. Shelter itself can be found strategically located in the middle of marble ridge 2760 meters above sea level.
For second day in a row Perun welcomed us in his mountains with thunder. When the storm caught us somewhere below main ridge in open landscape and we had to endure it only under tent canvas, I thought all hopes for good light are gone that day. However, old rule that storm brings good weather proved true once again. Even the first sunrays cutting through clouds started a show which culminated with upcoming evening.
Path from Yavorov
Pirin pine woods, so different to Carpathian dark and dreamy forests. Airy, yet mysterious, full of old crooked trees. Especially beatiful after storm, when colours are saturated. Somewhere above Yavorov hut, on the trail to main Pirin ridge.
In evening heat
Melnik pyramids in evening sun from the viewpoint near Rozhen monastery. View which can be experienced directly below one of the highest mountains in the region. Landscape as different as possible from mountain tops and lakes, yet not less fascinating.
Crossing Pirin mountains, one can decide to finish in southern direction. Long descent takes you through pine forest, mediterranean oak forest and to areas resembling semidesert. There awaits a jewel of Melnik rock pyramids. Orange rocks rising from wavy landscape are especially beatiful in the morning when distant mountains on the border with Greece remein in subtle haze.