Shar planina

Macedonia
26-28 of October, 2012

A three-day hike in Shar planina, which is the second highest mountain in Macedonia. Shar planina is a large mountain and we just did a circuit in the central part, where the highest peak (Titov vrv, 2747 m) is found. Ingmar joined us on this hike, but it was nice anyway! ;)


Day 1: Popova Shapka - Krivashija stream in Pena valley

 

We started walking from Popova Shapka at sunrise.

 
 

 

 
 

A nice water source

 
 

Climbing towards the saddle below Plat.
The rocky peak in the background is Kobilica (2528 m).

 
 

View from Plat (2398 m).
The pyramid on the left is Titov vrv (2747 m) which is the highest peak of Shar planina. The rocky peak in the middle is Sreden Kamen (2465 m).

 
 

Descending into the upper Leshnica valley.

 
 

The Leshnica valley.
The little house on the valley floor is a shepherd's hut.

 
 

Me at the shepherd's hut.
Below the rocks in the background we saw two chamois (mountain goats).

 
 

Autumn colours

 
 

Rocks above Leshnica valley

 
 

The ruin of a former mountain hut, which was unfortunately destroyed during the conflict in 2001.

The conflict seems to be unresolved. The local hiking club (P K Ljuboten) is continuously marking trails and putting up signs in the area, but some locals just keep destroying them.

 
 

A hill affected by an avalanche

 
 

The valley of the Pena river

 
 

We cooked over a fire at the bed of the Krivashija stream.

 
 

 

 
 

Ingmar noticed this interesting site.
The hole is a wasp nest, so we guessed
a bear had dug here searching for food.

 
 

A few wasps were still coming out of the hole.

 
 

Day 2: Kriva shija valley - Slapska valley

 
 

Morning at the meadow. Weather looking OK (so far).

 
 

A short detour took us to a small gorge...

 
 

...and another little gorge/cave...

 
 

...with a hidden waterfall!

 
 

Very nice place :)

 
 

The mist was getting thicker as we ascended up the Krivashija valley.
We saw bear droppings on the path and a dead mole.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Getting very misty...

 
 

Plenty of nice rocks here

 
 

The rain suddenly started pouring down. Luckily we arrived at this cute shepherd's hut at the same time.

 
 
 
 
 

We borrowed some wood to make a fire,
and waited for the weather to improve.

 
 

Sara gathering rain water from the roof

 
 

A nice waterfall near the hut

 
 

It stopped raining so we started ascending to the upper part of Krivashija valley.
But the mist from below came closer and closer...

 
 

 

 
 
 
 
 

We finally reached the lake at the top of Krivashija valley

 
 
 
 
We climbed to the pass below Turcin peak, but as soon as we got to the high ridge the weather turned worse. Heavy thunder made it dangerous to be up there, so we immediately descended into the Slapska valley below. We didn't know anything about this valley but it turned out to be quite easy to walk there.

We pitched our tent in strong winds and rain. It was very cold so it was nice when we could finally crawl into our sleeping bags and make some hot coffee.

The night became interesting, with plenty of thunder, rain and strong winds. Some of the lines of the tent became loose, but Sara was brave and went out into the storm in the middle of the night to secure the tent.

 
 

Finally protected from the bad weather

 


Day 3: Slapska valley - Popova Shapka

 

Our campsite in Slapska valley the next morning.
It was still wet and my camera lens was foggy...

 
 

Rainbow over Slapska valley.
We saw bear droppings on the path.

 
 

Last view of Titov vrv (second from right)

 
 

Shortly before reaching Popova Shapka.

 
 

Macedonian food in a restaurant in Popova Shapka.


We hauled down a car and asked the driver if he knew
how to get down to Tetovo. The driver and his friend (both called Jovan)
happened to be members of the hiking club P K Ljuboten.
They not only drove us down to Tetovo, but gave us a guided tour
of the city's historic sights. They also showed us their club office
and found us a nice hotel in the center. Thanks Jovan & Jovan! :)

 
 

Old Ottoman building, now a recidence for people of the Bektashi religion, which is a branch of Islam.

 
 

 

 
 

The Bektashis offered us some Baklava. The guy to the right spoke Danish. The bearded guy was the "priest" and they assured us he was no terrorist in spite of his long beard :) The guys sitting next to the priest are Jovan & Jovan. It was really interesting to get to know the Bektashi, which we had never heard about before.

 
 

Old Ottoman hamam, now an art gallery.
Next to this was the "painted mosque" which was very beautiful.

 
 

The office of P K Ljuboten, the oldest hiking club in Macedonia (from 1925).
Jovan & Jovan showed us a bunch of photos and old gear, and
gave us maps and other information about the Shar mountains.
It was really nice to see all this - THANKS! :)

 
 

In Skopje a last surprise awaited us - Bojan!!!
No visit to Macedonia is complete without meeting him :)