Pirin Mountain – off the beaten path

During the past summer, it was raining a lot in Bulgaria. Of course, that didn’t stop me from going to the mountains during the weekends. Although I was soaking wet every Saturday or Sunday, and that can be a little annoying, I came to realize that being in the mountains when the weather sucks is actually a great idea. Keep scrolling down and you will see in the pictures why I became a huge fan of bad weather.

In order to appreciate the clouds and the rain, you need to add a few more ingredients to the recipe - beautiful nature, good friends and just a bit of luck. Luckily, we have amazing mountains in Bulgaria and probably the most impressive one is called Pirin. I have been to almost all popular peaks there multiple times. And this is where a good friend comes in handy. If you are lucky your friends know some really cool hikes off the beaten path and they are willing to take you to them. In my case, my friend grew up close to the same mountain and he actually climbed the highest peak up (2914m) when he was only 4 years old. So, whenever I am thinking about hiking in Pirin, I fully trust his opinion and he never let me down. He is also a great photographer and you can see some of his pictures (the ones where I am visible).

 

Our day started early in Sofia and we arrived at our starting point - Gotse Delchev hut around noon. In two hours we managed to hike to Bezbog hut, where we had a reservation for Saturday night. We had lunch and decided to go to Chengel Chal (Ченгел Чал) - one of the most spectacular peaks in Pirin mountain but often overlooked. Due to its unpopularity, there is no marked hiking trail, instead, you can follow rock pyramids to it. Plan at least 5 hours for a round trip. You will be passing by Popovo lake and then crossing the river.

Start climbing up shortly after crossing the river on the left and you will reach Dzhano Peak, another picturesque place with beautiful view of Kremenski lakes. Continue on the ridge to Chengel Chal. At its summit, you can see all other beautiful peaks in Pirin mountain. And this is what makes it so special.

We arrived at the hut almost at dusk. Our trip to the peak took in total 6 hours with a lot of stops for pictures and admiring nature. It rained a little bit, but we were all grateful for the amazing views and clouds around us and didn’t mind getting a little bit wet.

On the next morning, part of the group and I headed to the next adventure. The ridge is called Strazhite (Стражите) and translated it means “The guards”. It is not an easy trek with its steep switchbacks and sheer drop-offs. There are no chains and it is not marked, still, there are some pyramids.

Once you are at the top you need just to follow the path until you reach Polezhan. This is another beautiful peak which deserves attention. A nice surprise was a lake I used to see on a lot of pictures but never knew exactly where it is. It was on our way and I finally managed to see "The lady with the bun" as we call it. The real name is Gazeysko lake (Газейското езеро), but I don't know if someone is calling it that way anymore.

That part was followed by a short ascent to Polezhan. The trail continues to Bezbog peak and if you have still some energy you can climb it. We were satisfied with our hike and continued to Bezbog hut instead. After a short break and a hot soup, we made our way to Gotse Delchev hut and went back to Sofia. I realized it would have been nice to have a GPS track for those unpopular and out of the bitten path locations. This is a mistake I will correct in the future.

I hope you liked my journey and pictures and you will come back soon for more. If I convinced you to go to Pirin Mountain I wish you a great time and beautiful bad weather.