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|Leaving the accommodation at Tresnjevik Pass|
I was down for breakfast at 6am, and away by 06:19 on a muddy trail for 300 metres before joining a tarmac road leading up to the strange Eko Katun Stavna.
I continued straight past the compound of buildings and cut up a grass bank to reach a higher trail leading into the impressive and compact Komovi group of mountains.
|Approaching Kom Kucki|
Needless to say, it was cold, grey and windy at the summit, and of course I saw nobody on the way up.
|Final section of ridge to Kom Kucki|
|Summit of Kom Kucki|
It was around this point that the description of how to follow the Via Dinarica into the Vermosh valley kind of petered out. I'd studied the maps, and Google Earth, and couldn't any obvious route into Vermosh, so I realised I would just need to take my chances and hope I could force a way through.
I followed a trail to an area called Bindža that consisted of nothing more that a few old ruined shepherds' huts. I continued contouring for another kilometre, but things didn't look too promising. I was hitting some awkward steep ravines that were not easy to cross. I could see some sort of man-made feature down below that I thought must have some access, so dropped down to inspect what looked like the foundations of an old building plus 2 bunkers or pits.
From here, any vestige of a path failed to materialise, and I realised I was still about 600m above the height of the valley floor with dense tree cover between me and the houses below.
Given how much I'd already descended, there was no choice but to plough on and bash through the beech forest below. I was slightly apprehensive in case I hit a band of crags, or failed to find a way out.
|Strange man-made feature above the tree-line|
|The same strange man-made feature above the tree-line (up close)|
|Bashing down through beech forest|
This was something of a relief, and meant I could relax and enjoy the easy saunter down the wide open valley. replete with roaming pigs and Enver Hoxha bunkers.
|Free roaming pigs in Vermosh|
|Enver Hoxha bunkers in Vermosh - apparently 700,000 were built in Albania|
The second option was to stop and put up my tent, but this wasn't appealing since it was raining and there was no obvious place to camp.
The third option was to find a guesthouse, but I didn't see any signage for accommodation, or anyone around to ask.
Just when I was resigned to trudging along in the rain for the foreseeable future, a black 4x4 tooted at me from across the river. I crossed a small bridge to check what they were after. To start with they appeared to be trying to offer me a lift (which I declined), but then they said "Guesthouse", and I suddenly became interested.
I followed them up a short muddy track and came to a huge old farm house, all shuttered up with no signs, and a locked front door.
After various attempts to open the big wooden door of what I couldn't possibly believe was a guesthouse, a head popped out of an upstairs window, and an American voice said "Don't worry, I'll be straight down".
|Leonard Lumaj guesthouse|
|Leonard Lumaj guesthouse - room to myself|
It turns out he was 71, and had been travelling continuously for the past 8 years, having gotten rid of all his possessions, and just drawing his pension from cashpoints around the world.
A very quiet night, with just the sound of the rain outside.