Finally, everything in its place – paperwork for leave from work, backpack ready, alongside with map of Macedonia. Plan is short, but intensive – Canyon Matka and mountains around Tetovo for five days. Packing took place in the middle of the night, but nevermind, with the list it was quick and easy (no self-advertisement of the previous post about packing, but let me get back to that…).
Course of action takes a major turn once I show up at the bus station for the last morning ride to Skopje, and woman in the office says “9:30? Nqma da patuva.”. Next one’s at 16:00 and that means a day lost for me. Great start. Quick change of direction and I decide not to waste a day and go to Stara Planina, starting from Karlovo. Doesn’t take long and I am walking up the Stara Reka, one of the most beautiful mountain rivers I have seen.
I’ve overestimated my stamina, which ran down like hell thanks to no jogging and sitting workplace… On the bright side – lots of stops for taking pictures, that I can share below:
Enough to say, on the second day’s afternoon I land on 2000m, on the main ridge of Stara Planina, between Ambartitsa and Kupena. I decide to head east, camp somewhere around Kupena and next morning cross it to fill on water. When I reach the pass just before the mentioned peek, I see this view, which I can call only the essence of mountain wilderness:
Tabun of horses running down to the lake. Magnificent and breathtaking, and at the same time maybe a bit discouraging from camping near the pond and taking water from there (didn’t have my chlorine tablets with me). I decide to camp on the ridge not to be stomped on in my sleep, but in the moment I unpack my tent I see that something is wrong…
You may have a list of things to pack. But if you don’t check every item you might end up with one model of a tent flysheet and poles from another model… A little of creativity, some additions and my Tordis stands more or less proud, with poles from Troll, short rope and a strap from my camera bag.
Another unpleasant surprise awaits me as I try to fall asleep early and get up for night shots. Voices of a group of Gypsies, that I met earlier on the way to Ambaritsa pass, having a very loud bonfire. Why would they? It might have something to do with supermoon, that peeks out from behind Kupena. Marvelous, beautiful, close like on my trip with Dani in July. Lucky coincidence, of course, I never plan such things, maybe I should start?
Nevertheless I cannot judge if the voices of Gypsies are getting closer or not, I’m starting to freak out about some magic stuff that they are about to do… Mind drifts off to strange lands when you’re alone on 2000m with no help from anywhere.
Survived the night, I prepare to climb last 100m of Kupena, but I find ropes and steep rocks on my road. No way I can deal with them with heavy backpack, photographic equipment and no water. I keep trying for thirty minutes, but I am not crazy – no mountain is worth risking a fall. Kupena joins Wołowiec and Małołączniak (both in winter) in the row of mountains that I retreated from. Not the best feeling, the score has to evened one day.
I decide to shorten my way around Kupena out of the trail. This detour takes me around 500 meters down of which few I fall with a small rock avalanche, and nearly step on a snake. Finally – a spring, so I can refill water and look up on Kostenurka up above.