Travel bug was bugging faster than weather was getting decent enough for mountain hike. And so how it is – groceries waiting in the fridge, maps lying all over my place like a carpet, and web portal with weather forecast on constant refresh. Finally – Friday just before Orthodox Easter should be good, quick decision about one day trip to Ledenika Cave, and all settled. In winter and spring it is known from it’s ice crystals inside, so definitely something that I wanted to see.
Who has read my stories before knows, that something goes wrong always from the start. Maybe wrong is a wrong word – suitable would be “goes other way than planned”. Just another hint for not planning too much. Enough to say, two unemployed people travelling spontaneously on the first free day of Easter break is not such a good idea – we discovered that the morning train to Vratsa has been overbooked and there is no way we can get tickets. Change for bus – good side of waiting for two hours is that you have time for some banitsa. Arriving in Vratsa and straight off for the trail up.
View from up on Zgorigrad
… and yet another one
Something I can’t get my head around – making a ecotrail through mountains, printing it on map, putting info points on the way, tables and everything. And not marking the trail on the rocks or trees – but that just contributed to the fun and in the end “up” is “up”. Cannot get lost, right?
Trail full of lizards, streams and great views on the city lying lower and lower below, with all that you just don’t care if you’re on the right trail. First big photo stop was when we encountered minzuhari (crocuses), already showing in higher parts.
First rule of mountain photography – bring your camera with you. Boy, has Simona regretted she didn’t have camera with her! But made up for it with modern technology and thanks to that I also have some photos from the mountain. Curse of photographer – you end up with not many pics of yourself, although I try to follow the noble path of selfies made with DSLR.
Photo: Simona Grozeva
Photo: Simona Grozeva
On the ridge we are welcomed by obligatory horses. This time in the scenery of an old lift leading from Zgorigrad up to Ledenika area.
By the time we get to crossroads Ledenika-Parshevitsa it is already time for closing the cave. So… no Ledenika this time, just tough decision to go down to Vratsa in order to take the train back, or to try to find place in Parshevitsa. Flexibility is the key to great adventure, so we turn in the direction of Parshevitsa and go upwards, towards the snow. As road goes higher spring turns into winter again, like coming back in time.
Just choose any direction. You are on the right track.
Parshevitsa was a very peculiar experience. First we got greated by a crazy dog, rushing through the snow and cheering like he has met friends not seen for a long long time. Then we got to know that actually there are only four people in the whole hut, including owner. Not the top of the season. For eating you can choose between eggs and eggs, kids. Yes, kids, as we were called second time this day by different people – I guess my beard cannot hide the truth lying behind it even with the years passing by.
The best part was that there was no heating. Understandable, there’s just four of us, no point – so we got an electrical blanket. Remember to never let kids play with electricity in a building that stayed unchanged from early 70s, I suppose. As soon as I plugged the blanket into the electric plug, it exploded. Flash, bang, sparks and all. And there I was standing with a black hand, not sure if I am still alive or should I look for the light in the end of a tunnel. And the owner just calmly says that we will figure out something else. Like nothing happened… well, ok. Thing that we’ve figured out was using all of the blankets available in 6-person room, and drinking a lot of Becherovka before going to sleep. In hats.
Luckily my life-line wasn’t burned
Road down was pretty straight-forward or straight-downward. Ok, not straight because from Vratsa to Parshevitsa there are more than 180 turns, as we learned from the lady working in the shelter. Fun fact to know. And as in so many other trips in Bulgarian mountains, this time also a dog sticks around on the road down. The friendly one from yesterday, he got down with us over 20 kilometers down to Vratsa. When we reached the city he looked like it was his first visit there – unfamiliar with traffic or the idea of ownership, going inside every possible garden and yard.
And down in Vratsa just before we got on a train back home, we managed to find our Ledenika after all. The cave was closed, but beer was open.