In the middle of November hiking in Pirin ??!!
That’s how I reacted when my childhood friend, a prominent mountaineer and traveler Dimo, told me about his plan for a one-day trek on Sunday. However, when we arrived there I quickly became convinced that this is the perfect time for a walk to Muratovo Lake and Vlahin Preval.
We leave Sofia early, even a little too early for my taste, but still the day is definitely short, and the section Sofia – Vihren hut takes 2 hours 30 minutes. At 7:00 AM the temperatures are not encouraging at all, fog has fallen, so I am equipped for a winter hike with snow – winter pants, gloves, gaiters, etc. (rather poor prognosis on my part).
The road to Dupnitsa is rather gloomy and cloudy, so we are a little worried about what exactly we will shoot when we reach the peak, because by definition we have announced that it will be a photo trip, not so much a hiking one.
When we approach the turnoff for the Rila Monastery, however, the clouds thin out and the sun rises, which is exactly what we hope for.
At the entrance to Bansko it is already very hot, and when we reach the hut it turns to be really warm. Luckily for us we manage to get to the parking of the Vihren hut by car, and so we save valuable time, which we use for shooting. So even from this point of view (that you are not forced to park further down the road, November is ideal for walking in Pirin in the area of Vihren and Todorka). Obviously, there are other “enlightened” besides us, because the parking lot in front of the hut is full, including a Ferrarri convertible, which rattles extremely unpleasantly (or pleasantly – depending on the point of view of the owner or the by-standers) in its chassis. while parking.
We start hiking together with a few more people from the hut, but we gradually stretch along the route, and after a few breaks for shooting, we completely lose sight of the others and are left alone in the company of the surrounding peaks. Temperatures are definitely well above expectations, so winter jackets need to get in our backpacks before we continue.
Arriving at Muratovo Lake we come across another group of hikers and a beachgoer. It’s 11:30 AM and the light is not suitable for photos at all. I use the moment to fly the drone to look around the area and snap a few panoramas, regardless of the inappropriate angle of light. After about 30 minutes we pack our backpacks again and attack the screes along which we have decided to reach Vlahin Preval – the end point of today’s hike. The distance is not too big, but on the other hand the route is quite steep. We crawl over the moraines, which are not smoothed at all, like those on Vitosha and look more like huge crystals of sea salt. In some places we look at the panorama behind us, but I forbid myself not to shoot with the effort of my will, because I know that when we go down the light will be many times better than it is now.
In about an hour we are up at Vlahin Preval – the effort was worth it 100%! Incredible panoramas to Vlahino Lake, Vihren, Koncheto, Todorka, many other peaks in the distance and lakes in the valley below us. Each of us takes hiw time to shoot and at the end we even manage to shoot a few commercial shots + a commercial video for the wonderful 0% alcohol craft beer that Dimo recently imported to Bulgaria (along with a bunch of other soft versions of the most popular intoxicating drinks on the planet, including vodka, gin and rum). I can honestly say that this particular craft beer is not inferior in any way in taste to its most famous alcoholic brethren. You can see for yourself by ordering through the online shop of freespirit.bg.
Satisfied with what we saw and filmed at 15:30 we begin to descend to Muratovo Lake. The sun is already moving rapidly west and down and allows for wonderful panoramas of descent, as I expected.
By the time we descend to the lake, the sun is almost hidden behind the surrounding peaks, but still illuminates the ridges of Donchovi Strazhi, which manage to generate the perfect reflection in the lake waters, together with the Todorka massif completely bathed in golden light and the already darkened Muratov peak. Priceless!
In the winter, Dimo went down a slightly different route than the one we came, so we decide to try it on the way back. There is no distinctive path, nor pyramids of pebbles for reference. At one point we reach one of the tributaries of the river Banderitsa and the trail disappears. The sun is already beyond the horizon and the light is slowly but surely fading, giving way to dusk. We are about 10 minutes away from the lake and the safe path we climbed, but we are both obviously adventurous enough to keep going.
Dimo tries a half-drawn route through the mugo pine, which is about 2 meters high, but makes a turn and goes back. Even if there was a path from here, now it is impassable. We decide to try going down the river. There are no special guarantees that at some point it will not become too steep, the mugo pine around is extremely thick and impassable to get around if we come across a waterfall. The shores are icy, it starts to get dark and come back to reason, although according to the navigation the distance to the hiking trail and the bridges that we see below us in the valley, is not more than 160 m in a straight line.
We reach a consensus that it is best to return to the morning route, after we have lost about 40 minutes in unsuccessful attempts, we are covered in bruises by the mugo pines and we are somewhat stumbled by the wrong choice of direction. However, the deviation was not entirely pointless – with the last sun rays I managed to capture a pretty decent panorama of Todorka peak and the river Banderitsa winding through the valley below, framed by the surrounding thickets of mugo pines. I couldn’t have taken that point of view if we didn’t take the wrong path!
We are quite tired, so we tramp along the boring, well-trodden road to the hut and talk about how difficult it is sometimes to make the right decision to give up the wrong direction, route or action. It’s already quite dark and I can’t take pictures, so I put the camera in my backpack and just walk. The clouds in the eastern sky are colored in very pleasant violet-pink shades, which are reflected in the calm waters of Banderitsa, right next to us, but unfortunately I do not carry a tripod and I have no chance for meaningful photos.
Already at dusk we jump in the car, which is the last one left in the parking lot, and we drive in the dark towards Sofia and the election results.
You can see extended version of the video below (some moraines climbing, panoramas of the surrounding area and Muratovo lake at sunset).
The best spots for photos are marked on the map below.