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.
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.
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.