You never know what you win when you lose, so true! Yesterday we had prepped for climbing Cherni vruh from Zlatnite mostove, a hike we've done a couple of years ago and liked. However, some 10 km from Zlatnite there was a road block and no cars were allowed to go further. I still haven't learned the reason for that, but anyway we had to turn back and quickly come up with another idea for a hike. It was late in the day, we had lost time to travel to Zlatnite, so it had to be Vitosha and nearby. Initially I thought of going to Zheleznitza and then it occurred to me that we had never climbed the mountain from Bistritza. We've been to Bistritza so many times, but always, always going horizontally either to Simeonovo or to Zheleznitza, never up. We were not prepared for the track and didn't have info for the length and difficulty, so initially we planned to do the climb only to Aleko. Surprisingly, the path turned to be very beautiful and despite the big elevation gain it felt fairly easy. The day was perfect for a mountain hike, sunny but not suffocatingly hot, as it gets in the summer. We were in great form, so when we reached Aleko and had our lunch there, we decided to continue to Cherni vruh. And then back to Bistritza. The whole hike was a solid 23 km with net elevation gain of 1260 m - the most exercise we've gotten this year so far. And no wonder - after all we started at the foot of one of the higher mountains in the country (Cherni vruh is 2290m high) and climbed to its summit and then back in one day.
:The track starts with birch and other deciduous trees and shrubs
: For miles it runs along the Bistritza river
: and it's really very picturesque
: Gradually the forest changes to conifer trees
: 18 years ago there was tornado in this part of the mountain. Some of the slopes still haven't recovered from the devastation it caused. As this is a preserved area, it has been left to itself to rot, grow and recover
: An interesting wooden chapel has been built in Aleko area. We had our lunch at one of the tea bars there. Because of the Simeonovo-Aleko gondola lift the place was full of people enjoying the sunny day in the mountain.
: And up we went to Cherni vruh. Despite the tiredness from the climb from Bistritza to Aleko, I believe our further climb from Aleko to Cherni vruh was one of the fastest we've done - probably because we were a bit pressed for time - we didn't want to be still in the forests after dark :)
: The plateau - it's beauty always delights me
: We had a short rest on the top, I put away the camera in the backpack and we took the way back in record time. I was very tempted to take a few shots in the mild light of the golden hour, but decided to skip it. It sounds cliched but the forest was truly magical and somewhat spooky in the dim light after sunset and though we were quite tired, it was a great experience to be there at such a time of the evening. A very satisfying hike!