Autumn colors in the wilderness of the country’s second highest mountains, peaking with Titov vrv (2747 m).
26/10, day 1: Popova ShApka – KRIVASHIJA valley
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 Leshnica valley.
Below the rocks in the background we saw two chamois (mountain goats).
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.
Rocks above Leshnica valley
A hill affected by an avalanche
Pena river valley
We pitched our tent on a small meadow in the Pena velley, by the Krivashija stream, and made dinner over the open fire.
Some animal had dug out this wasp nest. Possibly a bear or fox, but more likely a badger or honey buzzard bird (Swedish: bivråk)
A few wasps were still coming out of the ground
27/10, DAY 2: KRIVASHIJA VALLEY – SLAPSKA VALLEY
A short detour in the lower Krivashija valley visits a small gorge with a waterfall.
The waterfall in the small gorge from the detour
The mist was getting thicker as we ascended up the Krivashija valley. We saw bear droppings on the path and a dead mole.
Suddenly the rain started pouring down. We took shelter in this small shepherds hut.
Sara gathering rain water from the roof, we will turn it into coffee
The Krivashija waterfall was 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…
When we reached the uppermost part of Krivashija valley, the mist seem to have stopped chasing us. Perhaps we could climb the Titov vrv now?
A lake in the uppermost part of Krivashija valley.
We climbed to the pass below Turcin peak, hoping to climb Titov vrv from there. But as soon as we got to the pass the weather turned worse. Heavy thunder made it dangerous to be up there, so we immediately descended into the Slapska valley instead. 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. The next morning, we discovered that the long metal poles that hold up the outer tent were deformed.
28/10, 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 (the second peak from the right)
The last part followed a dirt road and then over skislopes down to 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 in Tetovo, now an art gallery. Next to this was the famous “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