Just before Vermosh I leave the Via Dinarica and hike a marked trail to Lepushë. This is an easy and pretty OK hike with a climb through woods and over a not to high pass. Than it’s downhill, mostly over unpaved roads to Lepushë where there are some cafes and a wide variety of guesthouses (serving food with containing lots of calories). Breakfast at the guesthouse is served when the other guests are awake too, so the next day I get a very late start on a very warm day…
To my surprise this trail is marked; according to the information on my maps it’s supposed to be an unmarked trail. And it’s marked clearly – thank you!
The hike starts with a climb out of town and soon, again, there’s no people (except from the occasional herder and some families living at the high plains) around anymore.
Than after the first climb it’s downhill until a crossing with the trail leading to the town of Nikc. Now it’s uphill again and after this down into a amphitheater. Here the trail is hiked less often, but the markings are looking bright and fresh.
To my surprise, there are is couple living here in this pretty remote place. And to my second surprise there are two, hmm pretty dirty, ponds. The extra water on this very warm day is a welcome treat. I talk a bit with the herder. He’s been checking out my moves and tells me there’s no water source after the pond for a long time (but he’d seen me taking water from it).Than just before the climb up to the saddle the bright and shiny red and white markings disappear. I backtrack for a bit, but they are really gone. So I take a break and study the climb up (and try to remember the way I roughly want to hike). The hike isn’t too hard, it just takes extra time to stop and check, instead of following a trail and checking the maps and GPS tracks.
I also know that the downhill part going to be more, ehmmm, interesting. At the saddle I take quick break and yes the downhill part is indeed going to be interesting; it’s steep, there’s not really a trail, there are some markings, there’s gravel, there’s more and endless downhill and there’s more and trail-less downhill.Finally, when I’m way down, I reach a crossing with another, marked, trail, which leads me oh so fast to some lakes. This is a good starting point for tomorrow’s hike: up to Maja Jezercë, Via Dinarica’s highest peak, and then down to Theth.
Here’s the download of the GPS track for hike from Lepushë to Theth.
The next day I’m really excited; hiking up to the top afterwards food and drinks in Theth. To me this sounds like a holiday! And the best thing? I get to leave most of my gear at the pass where I’ll return after hiking to the top.
Hiking with just some snacks, water and a jacket in my backpack feels like flying!This part of the Via Dinarica is unmarked but the first part is an often used trail. Than after a meadow the climb to the top starts. It starts with plenty of cairns. But they’re going everywhere and are of no use.
All goes well until I reach about 2100 meters. All I see is rocks and nothing looking like a (sort of) trail. Finding my way up on my own, there are no other hikers around, and on my kind-of-worn-out trailrunners is going to take me a long time. And after I reach the top I have to go downhill too.
Nope, I’m not doing it.
I turn around.
Maja Jezercë: fail.
But hey, what about ice cold soda pop, homemade food and maybe a shower?
Oh now I’m back to flying downhill. And this is a long and exposed way down.
At the start of the valley it’s back to civilization again; with a little shed where beer and soda is being sold. And for tired (or blistered?) hikers there’s a taxi. I also meet a group of Croatian hikers. They feed me delicious homemade speck and onion and fresh bread. Hmmmm
The trail between Valbone and Theth is a popular hike and in Theth it’s guesthouse, camping and hotel-galore. I just pick one that’s not too far from tomorrows’ trailhead. The food in this hotel isn’t probably the best food to be found in Albania, but the rooms are nice and clean. My neighbor only eats a few small bites of here plate. Well, that leaves me a very welcome second serving.
Stage 44 Via Dinarica
Check this link for GPS-tracks and more info about this stage.
More pictures on Instagram.
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This blog has been written on trail and on a mobile phone.