Hiking BG

One of my goals this year is to go on more hiking trips. Bulgaria has wonderful landscapes and fantastic hikes for every ability level, and many locations are just a short ride from Sofia – perfect for a day trip.

So far this year, I’m on track with this goal. Part of this was due to the orientation trips I went on with the new teachers when they arrived, and then part of it is due to being able to accompany the Hiking Club on trips now because I have a lot less work to do on weekends than I did when I was teaching.

The new teacher trips were all to locations I had been to before (Rila Monastery, Koprivshtitsa, Plovdiv), but we added a couple of new tangents, thanks mostly to the enthusiasm and energy of M., one of the Bulgarian teachers I invited along with us.

First, after visiting the monastery, we drove an additional 4 km into the mountains to the cave of Sveti Ivan Rilski, where he lived as a hermit.

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Supposedly if you can crawl up through his cave (which is so small I’m not sure I would even call it a “cave” rather than merely “a space under some rocks”) from the bottom and out the opening, you will be cleansed of your sins of the past year. Or you won’t sin in the coming year. Something like that.

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Anyway, we all made it, so we’re sin-free, temporarily.

On the way home from Rila, we stopped at the nearby Stob Pyramids. It was really helpful to hike this area with M, who is a geography teacher and who informed us that the pyramids were formed due to erosion of the hillside following deforestation. The trees that are left around the pyramids were actually re-planted retroactively to prevent more erosion from occurring.

The legend is that the pyramids are petrified wedding guests who were smitten (not exactly sure by whom or what) when the best man tried to kiss the bride because she was so beautiful. This is apparently why some of the pyramids have rocks balanced on top of them – they’re the petrified hats and wedding finery of the guests. Seems like a pretty harsh punishment for merely witnessing a guy macking on his best friend’s girl, but ok.

Then yesterday, I accompanied the Hiking Club to Lakatnik, to hike a section of the Iskar Gorge. Lakatnik is about 80 minutes north of Sofia by train, and I had a great day with 24 kids and the other 3 chaperones:

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Although, because it has to be pointed out again…

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…Bulgaria: Not so awesome on the safety measures!

It’s been unseasonably warm here lately, so I was a little hot and sweaty and sunburned and blistered after the hike, but it definitely beats grading papers. And then I had an excuse to be lazy all day today because my legs were sore. This is perhaps my favorite part of hiking – the fully entitled post-hike rest!

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