Grateful to have the hitching experiences behind me, we woke up and enjoyed a nice homemade breakfast before I briefly went into town to fill out my Albania entry form. Since we are entering through the mountains instead of a legit border crossing we are paying a company to notify the Albanian police of our arrival to assure no trouble when we enter. We have to choose a specific date to enter, and we chose August 24. Which means the 25 will likely be the last day of this trip. We did a short 10 mile hike this day to a near by backcountry lake, Strinsko Lake. The trail was nice, began as gravel then took us into the mountains on nice grassy pasture. There was a storm coming so we hid in some nearby dwarf pines prepared for it, so of course it didn’t come! The lake was total bliss. It provided the kind of views and night that literally brought tears to my eyes. Just endless beauty and ruggedness. The extra legit thing is that this was the New Moon. So we chose to cowboy camp to stargaze. It was really cold, and we woke to our sleeping bags being soaked from condensation, but it was so worth it. I saw at least 15 shooting stars. It was so magical. My favorite night yet, and I’m sure my favorite of the whole trail.
The next morning we crushed it getting to Orovacko hut then hitting the lake soon after. The summit up to Bregoc was nice and mellow and offered fantastic views. I have found that just from changing my mindset since leaving Mostar the trail itself has become easier and more beautiful, not a surprise. We then followed a nice footpath along the ridge to the next mountain, following no markings, but obvious trail. The mountains here get storms every afternoon, and this day was no different. I heard the thunder and really pushed it down the mountain to the next lake. We decided to just keep walking to the road and through the forest as it provided a nice coverage from the rain. The forest trails here are so nice! We had lunch at Donne Bare Lake as it poured. We crashed the “party” of those reserving the hut by eating lunch with them on the patio to stay dry. They luckily didn’t seem to mind. A long road walk brought us to Suha where we slept on picnic tables under shelter from the rain. It was cool to have this huge camping area all to ourselves.
The last couple nights I haven’t been sleeping well. I feel tired, yet not tired at all. It’s frustrating as it hasn’t been a problem all trail, but I’m not sure what to do about it. We did a super short day to Trnovacko Lake. It was mainly dirt road then a nice forest path that lead us into our next country, Montenegro! I am happy this is all we did this day as I felt super drained, foggy, and unmotivated. I only felt a small glimpse of myself while being in the forest and climbing uphill. We saw a ton of other hikers leaving as we were entering, a good sign! Beings it’s Sunday most people are heading out. Trnovacko Lake is literally paradise. It is a heart shaped, blue colored lake surrounded by some of the highest Bosnian mountains. We paid 1E for the National Park entry and 1.5E for camping. The host made us some Turkish coffee as we sat on the patio. Pure luxury. Got to spend the afternoon just reading, writing, swimming, and sewing up bits of my pack. But a very needed recovery day. Before dinner it started to thunder so we made our way up to the deck where there was coverage. After a lot of staring on our part we were invited to join the rest of the campers for dinner. Bread and cream, cheese, tomato, cucumbers, crackers, everything. It was so so good. We hung with them the remainder of the night laughing extremely hard. They were all getting drunk, LOVE the fact we’re from America. They took pictures with us. Serenaded us with Balkan blues songs. It was a good time even though we could barely communicate with each other. The unfortunate part is it didn’t stop, ever. At 3am the Crazy Balkan Gypsy, the nickname of our drunken friend, was still belting out songs from his tent. The dogs wouldn’t shut up all night, the Europeans were blasting techno music. So again poor sleep, but I can’t be mad at people for having a good time.
Next morning we summited Magic, the highest Bosnian Mountain. So we camped in Montenegro, summited a mountain back in Bosnia, the descended back to Montenegro. We were making great time. The trails are so easy to navigate here! I LOVE YOU MONTENEGRO! Seriously I’m in heaven. We walked further than anticipated and ate lunch at the river which was an unreal amazing green/blue. Another amazing swim 2 days in a row! So grateful. We then road walked a bit, through some dark tunnels which was fun and across the dam. Megan’s knee is really starting to bug her and we had a big uphill, she got through it though. The uphill was said to be brutal and really steep and I found it to be so much fun! It was steep and narrow trail at times, but such a good time. And it lead us to this beautiful plateau filled with green pastures. I waited for Megan at an elderly couples house, Ratko and Sevata, they provided water, shade, and kafe. They couldn’t speak any English but we all still tried to talk and laughed with each other. Such beautiful people here. They, as the people last night, said Trump the second we said we were from America. Giving him the big thumbs down, we agreed. We found camp soon after. I have found the trail to be fully dictated by my own attitude. When I am negative and grumpy, it seems to be crap trail, or hard to follow. But when I’m positive it’s all easier and beautiful. But I know it’s not the trail that different, just my perception is making the whole experience so different. And what a beautiful power we have to be able to do that.
The next day Megan’s knee was doing worse. We had a 12 mile road walk to Nedajno. When she arrived there she mentioned she was done and couldn’t go on. She would try and hitch to town, Zabljak. After breakfast I routed and reviewed some maps and routes and headed out. Still wanting to complete continuous footpaths of the trail. I decided to stay out of the mountains, not wanting to stress about navigation and water with nobody around. So I took the bike path which mixed roads and gravel down into town. 19 miles later, and only 5.5hrs, I arrived to town. We decided to stay an extra day today for Megan to rest her knee and tomorrow we will see if she is hopefully able to continue on the rest of the trail. It sucks to have happened so close to the end, when she has already been through so much. We aren’t really sure what’s going on or what she did. There was no specific fall or anything. The pressure of time is now against us since our Albanian permits have the specific date set. Besides from that this section has been great. Durmitor National Park was insanely beautiful and I hope to explore it more some day, so far Montenegro is pretty pretty amazing.
Another thing I have loved about this section is seeing so many fellow backpackers/hikers. After seeing very few the last month in a half, it’s refreshing to just get to walk by someone smile and say hello.