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Going for a walk around Bansko - Lines I to III

Going for a walk around Bansko - Map - Lines I to III

Phespirit hiked along three routes in the Pirin mountain range, all starting from Vihren Hut [H].

  1. Vihren Hut - Mount Vihren - Vihren Hut   [appr. 4-6km, plus 1km vertical]

    According to the 'Rough Guide to Bulgaria', the hike from Vihren Hut to the summit of Mount Vihren takes two and a half hours; it takes three hours according to a sign on the hut itself; it takes three hours and twenty minutes according Phespirit, who simply isn't getting any younger. The going was unpleasantly rocky underfoot almost all the way. The first rocky ascent lasted three-quarters of an hour, before levelling out at an all-too-brief plateau of respite [1]. Phespirit took twice as long again to make it to the top of the next ridge [2], where he was rewarded with spectacular views down to the Vlahinski lakes on the west side. After a short level walk along the ridge, a further hour was needed to zigzag up the steep, white, rocky dome of Mount Vihren (2914m). Its summit [3] is marked by a pillar of rocks with a plaque. After a forty minute rest here, Phespirit retraced his steps. It took him a little over three tiring hours to return to the hut (1950m).

  2. Vihren Hut - Hvojnato Ezero - Banderška Porta - Sinivrăški Preval - Vihren Hut   [appr. 14-16km]

    Phespirit started out with the intention of making it all the way to the gully of Sini Vrah where a small chalet sits beside a clear lake, but in the event he gave up before the final descent. It was all very nice at the outset, heading southeast from Vihren Hut, fairly level-going in parallel with a mountain stream. After a bit of a climb, Phespirit reached the picturesque Hvojnato lake one hour into his hike [1], followed by two smaller lakes just ten minutes later. Things became much harder after this point, with steep inclines over large rocks all the way up to the highest point of the trail: Banderška Porta [2] (approx. 2525m). Having reached this point an hour after the lakes, Phespirit rested for ten minutes before continuing on the trail marked blue. This was his preferred route as it did not cut across too many close contours on his hiking map. Indeed, it was over half an hour before he had to start scrambling over rocks again. These became quite steep after about ten minutes, but from this patch it only took another half an hour to reach Sinivrăški Preval [3] (approx. 2425m). From here it was possible to see over the ridge and down to the lake in the gully of Sini Vrah. It had taken Phespirit three and a half hours in total to reach this point so, being mindful of the need to catch the last bus from Vihren Hut back to Bansko, he decided it best not to go any further. Instead he stopped where he was for a leisurely lunch. It took an hour and ten minutes to get back to Banderška Porta, and then a further two hours to get to the hut, with restful pauses along the way. This hike was infinitely more enjoyable than the previous one, which was basically just a straight slog up a mountainside with difficult terrain underfoot. There were some high rocky slopes to ascend, particularly the last rise before Banderška Porta, but there were also long stretches of earthy footpaths with shallow gradients.

  3. Vihren Hut - Zhabeško Ezero - Dalgo Ezero - (Glavniška Porta) - Vihren Hut   [appr. 8-10km]

    Leaving Vihren Hut via a footpath on the opposite side of the stream to his previous hike, the first milestone of the day came after three-quarters of an hour: a bent and rusting signpost at the foot of a grassy hill. After hiking up this hill for half an hour, Phespirit looked down to his right for picture-perfect views of a vast lake: Ribno Ezero. Five minutes later he passed a second rusting signpost, and after another five minutes he arrived at what he considered the most beautiful place in the Pirin mountains: Zhabeško Ezero [1]. The name means 'frog lake' and, appropriately enough, tiny froglets scattered in all directions with each of Phespirit's footfalls. From this splendid spot, Phespirit continued along the trail marked red. After a brief descent along a path that passed by a cluster of small ponds, he began a long and arduous climb over huge boulders with another huge lake, Dalgo Ezero, down to his left [2]. This was extremely tough going, so when he finally reached a clearing with a little pond [3] he decided to call it a day. It had taken him an hour to reach this point from the frog lake. As with the previous hike, Phespirit had originally intended to push on a little further - to Glavniška Porta, the highest point of the ridge that overlooks the pond - but this would have entailed more clambering over boulders. It just wasn't going to happen; not for enjoyment. On his way back down to Vihren Hut, Phespirit stopped once more at Zhabeško Ezero and decided to go for a swim. He waded in up to his waist but it was just a bit too cold for him to take the full plunge. The water was not so much 'refreshing' and 'bracing' as 'debilitating' and 'murderous'. Brrr.

DISCLAIMER: It is strongly recommended that visitors take a local map or guide when setting out on these walks; Phespirit is not responsible if the use of this web page results in visitors becoming lost, injured, maimed, killed or weary.

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