What a romantic experience – sleeping near the lake, right? There’s only one problem with it – during the night, it’s usually damn cold near water. We could tell…In addition to being woken up by the cold multiple times during the night, I was also awakened by strange noises – sounds of footsteps near our tent. That happens to me very often when sleeping outside. I think my brain simply likes to play tricks on me. And when it adds a dose of sleep paralysis on top, it’s always an unforgettable experience. But more about this next time….There’s nobody walking outside of course. I guess…(?)
Given that we substantially shortened yesterday’s stage, we have few more kilometers to walk today. The destination is Ribni Lake Hut. The first stop – Kobilino Branishte – a vast grassy plateau situated at the bottom of a valley. Unlike the name suggested (kobyla = lady horse), there were no horses to be seen. Instead there was a cozy little shelter where we could have spent the night, would we have reached it. But who on Earth would want to sleep in a cozy little hut when one can be freezing with cold and fear in the tent instead, right?
Today is though. I shuffle along slowly and tiredly and the kilometers do not roll by whatsoever. Us Czechs, we sometime say: “It’s never that bad so that it couldn’t get any worse…” That is (unfortunatelly) so true….We have yet to discover that there is a never-ending ascent awaiting us on the way from Kobilino Branishte. Oh, oh, what a struggle! But when we finally scramble to the top, we are awarded by a snack and breath-taking views on the neighboring hills.
While eating a slice of bread with our favorite local treat – ajvar and Balkan cheese, we are enjoying a view of the route that we have already beaten in the last few days. But what’s in front of us remains secret…I hope no more ascending for today.
Well that was a naive phantasy. Of course there will be another hill and another and another. But first we naturally have to descend to the very bottom of a valley…again. Already from the distance we can see a sheep herd grazing near the Marinkovica stream running through the valley. There are also 3 shepherd dogs running around and so we rather bypass the herd. We certainly don’t want to get mixed up in the herd. It’s supposedly dangerous situation as the dogs might not want to let you out and let you go.
The last stage (from Marinkovica stream to the Ribni Lake Hut) goes surprisingly well. At the hut, we even encounter English-speaking personnel which is surprising! They charge us for the tent spot (15 lev) which sucks but on the other hand we can choose a proper dinner from an English menu and even have a SHOWER. Unbelievable! Count me in. As soon as we build our tent at the Upper Ribno Lake (Gorno Ribno Ezero), I run to the shower. It is sightly disgusting but I’m grateful for it regardless.
At the dinner table we meet a nice fellow hiker from Poland and a group of other people with friendly but randy dog which constantly tries to hump my leg.
The hut is surrounded by smaller cabins which can be reserved for accomodation. There are few horses grazing near those cabins. After dinner we just rest and enjoy the peacefulness of this place – gazing at the glistening surface of the Lower (Dolno) and Upper (Gorno) Ribni lakes.