Friday, August 15, 2014

Around Lake Ohrid - day four

The eastern shore of Lake Ohrid is home to the small, mountainous Galicica national park. I had originally planned to hike into the park from gradishte campground (about 4 kilometers from Eleshec) but then I learned that there is better access to hiking trails from the village of Elshani - a short 3km stroll up a steep country road from Camp Eleshec. So I did what my ultra flexible schedule demanded and changed my plans to spend today in the mountains and walk on to Gradishte tomorrow.

I started up the steep road to Elshani in the relative cool of an already warm morning. I walked quickly, racing the heat, and practically bouncing without the weight of my pack dragging me down.

The Elshani trail was easy to find from the top of the road, it was marked by a small picnic area with spring-water fountains at one end of the informal village square formed by the ending of the road.

I climbed the wide trail past the backyard orchards and terraced sheep pastures reaching another spring. There the trail branched into a dozen cow paths and just as I was about to guess (wrong) a local woman dressed in black and carrying a bundle of sticks under one arm set me right.

I hadn't intended to reach the top of anything. I set myself a time limit and just figured I'd see where the trail would take me.

The trail wound through dark woods with moss covered rocks and a canopy of leaves that glowed green in the morning sunshine  then passed through a small meadow filled with golden grass, always climbing, climbing, climbing.

Bated onwards by glimpses of Ohrid's expanse of blue I hiked on until,quite unexpectedly, I found myself very near the shale crowned top of something.  A few minutes later, When i reached it, I discovered it was the top of a ridge that hid more peaks.

The trail went on, but I stayed to enjoy the view for a few moments before starting back down the trail. 

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