Out for a walk beside the Ottawa River in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada!
Where are Kevin and Ruth now? Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

Where are Kevin and Ruth going next? Heading to Nova Scotia around August 1st.

Friday, June 28, 2024

Peaks of the Balkans Day 6... Climbing Kosovo's highest mountain, 18.5 kms

This was probably our favorite day of the whole ten day adventure. The Gjeravica Peak hike is one of the most scenic, with sweeping views over a mountainous landscape. 

We had separated from the friends we had made over the previous days. They were now one day ahead of us, and some of them had done the Gjeravica Peak hike the day before but they encountered clouds near the top, and weren't able to enjoy the great views. Not the case for us!

We had a good breakfast at Doberdol before setting out. Fritters, sausage, bread, cornbread, jam. Everything homemade, including the bread, sausage and jam.

The Doberdol hostel had been too busy our second night there though. They couldn't feed everybody and get everybody on the go efficiently. They were a bit unorganized. Probably 60 people! And there was word that there would be 70 people the next night. 

Everybody trying to get their phones charged!

The summer settlement of Doberdol is not hooked up to the electrical grid, so the homes and guest houses are all individually solar powered. 

Our old friends had headed out the day before, but with so many people staying at the guesthouse it was easy to meet new friends! We sat with a group of four from Dubai. They belong to a hiking group in Dubai (who knew there would be a hiking group in Dubai?!) and although it was two guys and two girls, they are just hiking friends. 

And most people in Dubai are immigrants... Saad is originally from Lebanon, Jawdat from Syria, Lira from Philippines, and Reem from Jordan.

We also met Yuxi, a girl originally from China who has lived 12 years in Melbourne, Australia. Traveling on her own, just going guesthouse to guesthouse randomly without booking anything in advance. Proof that it can be done, although there would be some risk as busy season ramps up.

We also met Nela, the 12 year old daughter of the guesthouse owner. She has been "working" at the guesthouse since she started coming here during the summers ten years ago, and learned English from the tourists. Her English is almost perfect, with hardly any discernable accent! Children are amazing when it comes to learning a new language. Her father now pays her €5 a day for helping with the guests, which she is quite pleased with.

Nela, Ruth, Yuxi.

Knowing we had a long, steep hiking day ahead of us, We set off at 7:50am..

On the trail leaving Doberdol.

Some of these horses are used as pack horses for people who have paid to have their bags transported between guesthouse.

It didn't take long to start getting some views.

This big frog jumped across the trail in front of me!
It seemed odd because there was no water around.

Nearby though, was the source of this underground stream!

Ruth, on the trail.

What a gorgeous day.

Looking from Albania into Kosovo.
We had made it to the pass at 9:30am.

Kosovo/Albania border sign.

Me, at the Kosovo/Albania border, with Kosovo behind me.

Hiking through the snow in Kosovo.

Ruth in the snow.

The snow is not going to last long though. This day, Tuesday the 19th, was a hot one down below, with temperatures of 37C (99F) forecast for the cities of Peja and Shkodra. Glad we were up at altitude where it was still going to be abnormally warm (maybe 26C, 79F), but certainly manageable.

We are headed up there! To the highest point, left of center. About three hours away!

Ruth, on the trail.

The trail ahead.

The sides of the mountains are covered with wild blueberries. 
Another couple of weeks until they are ripe though.

Me, on the trail.

An odd rock formation.

Pretty lake.

Deravica, the heart shaped lake.

If they don't feel ambitious enough, many hikers will only go as far as the heart shaped lake and not climb to the top of Kosovo/s highest peak. On such a beautiful day, we were feeling ambitious though!

One foot in front of the other.

Scenery along the way.

Ruth, above the heart shaped lake.

Ruth is quite slow climbing, but she never stops.

More winter leftovers!

Looking back at Ruth coming through the patch of snow.

Zoomed in on some mountains in the distance.

The trail ahead.

Ruth, climbing on of the steeper sections.

Made it! Spectacular scenery along the way, especially with a beautiful blue sky.

That's where we are headed!

Zoomed in you can see that there is some kind of marker up there.


Scenery along the way.

Looking back where we had come from. You can see Ruth on the trail.

Beautiful panorama photo.
You can make all photos full screen by clicking on the photo. Click once again to zoom in.

The trail ahead.

Ruth, coming up behind me.

Wow!

Our new friends Saad and Jawdat are younger guys and especially Saad is a hiker extraordinaire. Really fast, and usually far ahead of everybody else. The two girls had left later than us, and were still behind us.

Zoomed in on Jawdat and Saad. Saad (standing above) is actually on his way down.

Still climbing.

Still climbing!

Made it to the top at 12:30pm!

Here comes Ruth!

Ussie at the top!

We were the only ones up there!

Views from Gjeravica Peak. Elevation of 2,656 m (8,714 ft) above sea level

Ruth, signing the book at the top.

We were the 3rd and 4th up to the top so far, and only ten people climbed in total that day.

We didn't stay at the top for lunch through. While the flies had been not bad on this climb, they were all waiting for us at the top. And not only the house flies this time, lots of other bugs as well. A few biting horseflies with big green eyes too!

Heading back down.

Not as many wildflowers on this hike.


I wanted to climb this thing too, but we didn't think we had time.

Another mountain stream.


At 4:00pm, we arrived at Gacaferin Pastures.

Gacaferi Pastures is accessible during winter due to these machines... they bring people up here for back country skiing.

We stayed at Gacaferi Hut, one of our favorite guesthouses of the trip. 

The view from our bedroom window!

Our private room.

Our private bathroom.

This was one of the smaller guesthouses. The people running it hardly spoke any English, and they were super friendly. Maybe 25 guests in total, and we had one group of 17 from Israel who had two local guides. We spoke to people from that group several times at several locations over the following days. 

We always separate politics from people in the countries we visit. And of course the current events in the middle east are difficult for everyone involved there. We didn't talk about that at all, other than them making comments that "now is not a good time to visit the area".

But we did talk about the life of the Israeli people, and one of the interesting topics of discussion was the mandatory two year military time that all citizens male and female have to perform once they reach the age of 18. They have mixed feelings about it, but they don't have a choice. It's mandatory. Turns out that about 15% of young people remain in the military after their mandatory service.

Ruth, and the big table set for dinner.

We sat with the Israeli group for dinner and breakfast the next day.

I didn't take photos, but this place was probably the best meals that we had. We had chicken soup, salad, and some kind of chicken and sausage dish. 

Slept really well... what a great day!

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And in Canada...

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