Jan 9, 2015

Brief update from Ohrid

The walk from Prrenjas to the border was wild, beautiful, and challenging. I'm glad I took the path that I did, but might not do it again in the winter.

Struga was ice-bound. My friends here told me that they normally get a few centimetres of snow, which melts in a day or two, so they are not equipped for snow removal on the scale needed this winter. As a result, the narrow lanes of Struga had ruts that sometimes reached the pavement through the eight centimetres of ice that had been packed into an uneven and slick surface.

Although it's only 30 kms away along the shore of the lake, Ohrid was noticeably warmer than Struga, with about half the ice, and the major pedestrian areas in the centre of town had been cleared. My three days in the "Jerusalem of the Balkans" were full of delight and wonder. Since there's an international airport here, I'm thinking of stopping over for a few days on my way home in the spring. The extra flights may be prohibitively expensive, but it's something I will investigate once I reach Istanbul and finalise my travel plans.

Tomorrow morning I'll be walking to Resen. The Via Egnatia trail leads up into the moutains through a national wildlife reserve, and across a plateau at 1300 m above sea level. While that is a stunning walk during the warmer months, it's simply not safe in the winter, especially for a lone hiker. Instead of the 26 kms of trail walking, I'll stick to the road. The route is 38 kms because it goes around the massif, so it will be a long day of walking.‎ The forecast looks good, with sunshine and a high of 9 Celsius.

I've been too busy the last few days to properly record my experiences, so there may be one or two much longer "catch up" posts over the weekend. (But that also depends on how long I'm walking.) And now, an early night so I can hit the road shortly after sunrise.

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