Hiking Mount Postenan

Wednesday, December 5, 2018, 8:45pm

I never quite know how to begin my hiking stories anymore because I feel like I’ve said everything I want to say about walking in nature. How many ways can I describe the grueling trek uphill, the exhilaration at the peak, and the drudgery of returning down the mountain?

Still, each trip is special in its own way – the people, the weather, the places are all different, even if the other parts of the equation remain the same. And today’s hike was unique in that it was a winter expedition with a new group of people. 

Hiking to the Summit of Mount Postenan

The summit at sunset

The series of events that led to my 8-hour, 23-kilometer trek to Mount Postenan actually began a few months ago. After a meeting with local NGO Cesvi and new tourism nonprofit Vjosa Explorers, my counterparts and I decided to apply for a Friends of Albania grant to mark a new trail in the Permet mountains.

Continue reading “Hiking Mount Postenan”

Hiking in Peshtan

Another weekend, another hike into the mountains surrounding Permet! This time, I joined my friend Koli for a 14-mile trek into the valleys of Peshtan. We explored the surrounding forests, visited an Ottoman bridge, and befriended goats!

Saturday, September 29, 2018, 6:31pm

Wow. It has been another absolutely insane day in the mountains. Rather than climbing to a peak, we hiked 14 grueling miles cross-country, which meant that the road was strenuous both ways, not just the climb to the top. But the final destination, the gorgeous Ura e Limarit (Bridge of Limar) was more than worth the trip . . . one time only!

The gorgeous Ura e Limarit (Bridge of Limar) was more than worth the trip!

I began my morning early at 5:30am for Koli’s departure time of 6:00am. After a quick breakfast, Koli arrived right on schedule, and we took off for the village of Peshtan, which is located right outside of Kelcyre on the border of Tepelene. We picked up Brianne in the center of town, and within minutes, we had arrived in the village and were ready to begin our day’s journey!

Brianne and I were in high spirits. It had been a long time since we’d been hiking with Koli, and we had been told that it would be an easy, 6-hour hike along a river. The air was brisk and cool since we’d traded the summer’s humidity for the fall’s crisp breezes, and I was more than ready for a new adventure! Continue reading “Hiking in Peshtan”

Camping in Nivica: Part 2

On our second day of camping, we went on a hike to an oak grove in the mountains, walked into the village of Nivica, and had dinner at a charming guest house, and attended a drama performance!

Saturday, September 22, 2018, 9:08pm

It’s been a long, exhausting day! I’m more than ready for bed, and it’s only 9:00pm! I guess sleeping under the stars does not make for a full day’s worth of energy.

I fought off sleep so I could continue looking up at the stars as they shot across the sky.

I made it through the night tossing and turning, wishing I’d brought a winter hat and scarf (because I was comfortable from the neck down but chilly and wet with morning dew from the neck up). I had a bit of trouble relaxing enough to fall asleep, but sooner or later, I drifted off in sheer exhaustion. I woke various times throughout the night because I was getting sore and had to switch positions.

At 3:45am, I found myself awake once again staring up into a sky full of stars. The moon had finally set, leaving galaxies to shine brightly in its absence. I pulled on my glasses and enjoyed the gorgeous evening view. I fought off sleep so I could continue looking up at the stars as they shot across the sky. Continue reading “Camping in Nivica: Part 2”

2 Days in Montenegro: Kotor

On our final day in Montenegro, Kelsy and I traveled to the charming town of Kotor, another city by the sea with an extensive Old Town! We hiked up to a fortress with an incredible panoramic view of the bay to end the trip!

Tuesday, September 11, 2018, 1:03pm

It’s a beautiful day in Kotor! Exploring these old towns in Montenegro feels like traveling back to Italy. Kotor has all of the narrow alleys, cobblestone streets, and shuttered windows with half of the tourists (though sadly with many of the same high prices), and I’m totally charmed.

Traveling from Budva

After the late night, we packed up our things around 8:00am and were out the door into the hot, hot sun around 8:30am. Preferring to take our time rather than rush to the bus station, we stopped for coffee on our long walk, ignoring taxi drivers and curious stares along the way. You’d think people would be more immune to tourists I a beach town, but the Balkans continue to surprise me.

The road to Kotor had views of the sea as we climbed into the mountains and views of the suburbs as we turned inland.

Finally arriving at the bus station, we got tickets for the 10:20am bus, which was absolutely packed. It had departed from Bar, and most of the seats were already claimed by the time we made our way into the bus, which meant Kelsy had to sit on the stairs by the driver while I stood almost the entire time. Luckily, it wasn’t a long ride, and I was engrossed in my book.

The road to Kotor was somewhat scenic with views of the sea as we climbed into the mountains and views of the suburbs as we turned inland. We traveled through tunnels and farmland, finally arriving at the edge of Kotor around 11:00am. Unfortunately, we were caught up in traffic, which delayed our arrival by at least twenty minutes. Continue reading “2 Days in Montenegro: Kotor”

Hiking Theth-Valbona: Part 3 (FINAL)

On the final day of the hike, we took a long and winding route back to Shkoder from the village of Valbona! We rode a ferry down Lake Koman and took buses through the gorgeous countryside before finally arriving back in civilization!

Sunday, September 9, 2018, 3:15pm

Our hiking adventure has come to a lovely end! We’re safely back in Shkoder, and we didn’t get lost in the mountains, which I consider a victory! We had an amazing time. The air was crystal clear, the weather was overcast but not rainy, and the guest houses were accommodating and warm. What more could we have asked for?

The path from Valbona followed the crystal clear river through the mountains and passed picturesque mountain villages and farmland.

Waking up after a restless night of sleeping, Kelsy and I packed up shivering from the early morning chill. We were the first ones downstairs, and we enjoyed the cool mountain air as we waited for the others to arrive. Sitting down all together at the breakfast table, we were served a nice spread of fig jam, ham cold cuts, cream cheese and white cheese, butter, bread, tomatoes, cucumbers, boiled eggs, American coffee and peach juice. It was warm and filling, and we all felt satisfied leaving the hotel and hopping into the taxi out of Valbona.

The road from the village was fully paved, so our taxi driver (who knew all the American Peace Corps volunteers who’d ever lived in Bajram Curri) was able to speed through the twists and turns in the mountain road. The view was spectacular once again. The path followed the crystal clear river through the mountains as it flowed over large boulders and green foliage and passed picturesque mountain villages and farmland. Continue reading “Hiking Theth-Valbona: Part 3 (FINAL)”