The last night of our boulder trip we camped near Treskavec monastery, a brilliant place. Actually it was my last night, the rest of the crew stayed, but I felt ready to continue hiking. To be on my own again. From the monastery I followed an easy going hiking trail down to Prilep. I snapped tons of photos, stopped and stared more than I walked. In a way Pelagonija reminded me of Mojave desert, but without Joshua trees. And slightly smaller. Nevertheless, an impressive landscape.
On my own again
In Prilep I took a bus to Bitola from where I tried to reach a mountain hut in Pelister National Park. Tried, but didn’t succeed. It gets dark so early. At 18.30 I stopped at an hotel and pitched my tent on the parking lot. Next day I walked to Niže Pole, a really nice village where the hiking trail towards the lakes and Pelister peak starts. Unfortunately the weather changed, I did see the clouds, but kept on hoping they would be harmless. Nope. As soon I set foot on the hiking trail, the thunder started.
A nice man offered me a ride back to Niže Pole and opened his cousins garden to put up my tent. Not a bad place at all. While the rain made its way upon my tent, I installed myself with a podcast. Since I discovered podcasts I hardly read books anymore. It feels a bit more passive, but apparently that’s what I want. Then the man came back. “Would you like to take a shower?” Although I got myself pretty comfortable in my green little house, a shower was more than welcome. Wash away the chalk and Pelagonija dust. And sweat.
Of course I was just in time for lunch. Salad, rakija, sheep cheese and then goulash, bread, wine. While people tell me that there’s not much money in Macedonia, they surely eat good food. There’s always enough to have people over and if you don’t want to eat, they pack it for later. I always struggle how to say that I had enough. When I finish my plate, I get a second portion, but when I leave some food, they think I didn’t like it. In the end I always overeat just because I don’t dare to say no. And because I love the food so much. Duhh.
After a quiet night I walked back to the trailhead. A well marked trail took me to the mountain hut next to Golemo Ezero. I got hot tea from a fisherman and a beer from a Croatian hiker. Totally fuelled up I continued towards the small lake on Baba mountain and said hello to Pelister.
During the day the temperatures are pretty nice, perfect for hiking, but as soon as the sun disappeares it gets cold. Below zero kind a cold. I should test my new sleeping bag to find out until what temperature it keeps me comfortable, but I also had the option to descend. Leaving the cold night challenge for another time.
At the mountain hut it seemed to be even colder and also there was this weird little tent-hut thingie with a lot of garbage around it. Camping in the woods is no problem, but I prefer to be alone. Camping with an(other) homeless stranger gave me an awkward feeling, so I went on, further down to hotel Molika. Again I got permission to pitch my tent on the parking lot. Not very glamorous, but warm and relatively safe. And there was WiFi. Instead of podcasts, I entertained myself with videos. “Zondag met Lubach” and then the backstage vlog and a bunch of other vlogs. I love this contradiction. Outdoorlife versus WiFi time.
Then there was another decision to make. What to do next? Follow the Via Egnatia through Macedonia to Ohrid or not? Have to admit that I wasn’t super motivated, but it was simply easier to hike then figuring out the public transport. So that’s what I did. I hiked a boring road knowing that my own attitude could make or break it. But how to like hiking a road next to the highway? It might have been an old Roman road, but without any traces of this antique civilization it seemed to me nothing more than just a road. With garbage. And dogs.
When I saw a minivan with a French number plate I didn’t think twice. Yes they were going to Ohrid and yes I could get a ride. A lovely ride I have to say. Must be great for biking as well. I could totally see myself coming back on my touring bike. From Ohrid I went to Struga and from Struga I hitchhiked to Kališta, to the campsite where I had such peaceful time two (or three?) weeks ago.
Now I again have a decision to make. What to do next? Follow the Via Egnatia through Albania or not?