Theth to Valbona hike (11 mile one way)- part of the Peak of the Balkans Trail- A 120 mile circular trail created in 2012 to increase tourism and promote unity amongst the once hostle Balkan countries.
We decided to start the hike at 9am, I woke up to a message saying that my buddy (a random guy I met on the bus that asked to join) no longer could make the hike… Crap. I wasn’t going to back out now, so I kept on. After I started this hike, I began debating each step for the next hour whether this was a good idea or not. After this first 15 min I was out of breath and needed a break. I didn’t have water with me bc after reading notes online it seemed there were guesthouses along the way you could get refreshments plus the extra weight wasn’t something I wanted. Luckily I found a small waterfall along the trail and filled up water (to seemed thats where everyone got their water so I felt ok about it). It was a lot steeper than I had originally thought and by an hour in I was soaking in sweat and I began to get cold. The temps were cool but the weight of the pack made me sweat. I wasn’t sure what to do, if I put a jacket on I would sweat more and if I didn’t the wet shirt would keep my chilly. I decided to dry off and change shirts. This worked for a while until that shirt got sweaty too. Honestly I was aiming just to make it 1/2 way, bc I knew if I made it 1/2 way there would be no point in turning back and I was free from the thoughts of turning back. I took many breaks to prevent the sweat/chills and kept on. I knew my body could handle it if I could push my mind pass the physical challenges. About 2.5 hours in I approached a guesthouse. I took a load off and had a turkish coffee while my shirts dried in the sun and allowed my muscles to relax. They said it was another 4 hours to Valbona but only 2 more hour of uphill (crap lol). I finally made it 1/2 way, it was still uphill :( and my legs were dying. I finally made it to the downhill part, yay! This was a temporary relief as the last part was a steeper decent for about 2 hours. My legs quickly became very weak and I wished for more uphill. I learned you could walk backwards to relive the pressure so I did this on and off. I eventually made it to the bottom and I figured I was home free, plus I had made pretty good time! What I didn’t realize was that once at the bottom I had about 4km more to walk along a rocky dry river bed to get to the city of Valbona where they had guesthouses. I knew the brunt of it was over so I powered through, my front clip on my pack had broken so I didn’t have shoulder support as I started with. Once I hit paved roads I knew I was close and decided to hitchhike the rest (relax its legal here). Once there the pain in my shoulders set in, and it only got worse as the night progressed. The information online had told me the bus left at 10:30am that took you to a ferry that would take you back to Shkoder and from there I could take north to Croatia. Against my better judgement I decided to not double check the info and just try to sleep. I thought I could get up around 8am to double check the info, to my surprise I found out the only minibus left at 7am, so I missed it. Looks like I was spending another day in Valbona. This turned out to be a very nice relaxing day. I explored a little and took some much needed quiet time “taking a hit of life” (a friend described my experience in this way and I thought it was perfect). I had fun flying the drone around doing my best trying to capture the natural beauty of this place. Valbona was very similar to Theth as it was in a valley surrounded by the Alps. The next day I caught the minibus to the ferry which I had 4 hours to wait until the ferry came. More me time. Well my ferry is about to arrive, next stop back to Shkoder then to Dubrovnik Croatia, I imagine ill have to stay in Shkoder another night knowing how the minibus’s run. Some travelers I met here said Croatia is more developed so I’m hoping for more public transport and more english speaking, fingers crossed. See my post "Land of the Eagles" to read more about Albania.