Day 8 - Trešnjevik to Vermosh via Kom Kucki (26th June)

link to

Leaving the accommodation at Tresnjevik Pass
Day 8 dawned disappointingly grey and cloudy.

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 Komovi
Unfortunately the weather had deteriorated overnight, so it was getting really cold and windy, with low cloud.  I had stop to put on virtually every item of clothing.

Approaching Kom Kucki
Once I'd reached the col I found a good hiding place for my rucksack, then climbed the steep rocky slopes to gain a slightly terrifying narrow exposed ridge to reach the summit proper of Kom Kucki 2487m, the highest peak in the Komovi group.

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
On the way back to the col, I met 3 Czech guys trying to decide on whether to head up the hill. I think I persuaded them to give it a go, and then headed south towards Katun Sumor, where there is a strange isolated church in the middle of nowhere.

Katun Sumor
It was getting cold and rainy, so I thought it would nice to take some shelter in the tiny church for a few minutes, but unfortunately the door was locked. So I continued on a track that contoured past some bigger steeper hills.

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
Once in the forest, the going was surprisingly easy on soft surface with plenty of space between the trees. The ground started to get steeper, and eventually I could hear running water left and right, so I knew I was coming to a nose that would steepen and drop me into a gully. I then thought I would need to find my way down a river bed, but to my surprise as I crossed the river I was met by a land rover track that took me directly to the head of the Vermosh valley.

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
I wasn't quite sure where I was aiming for now. It was getting quite cold and rainy, so I needed to stop and put on a jacket. I had vaguely thought of continuing all the way to Gusinje, but I wouldn't get there until well after dark, so that was not an appealing option.

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
Next thing I knew, I was indoors out of rain, with a room of 4 beds all to myself.

Leonard Lumaj guesthouse - room to myself
The American chap then disappeared again for a while, until we ate together later on in the evening.

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.

No comments:

Post a Comment