On the last Saturday of October, we went on a one-day trek to Rila. We passed two of the famous Seven Rila Lakes, saw two more from afar, and then went down the Urdina River Valley and walked past the "Urdina" Lakes. The weather was wonderful, just as it should have been – sunny and quiet. Thanks to the lack of wind, the surface of all the lakes we passed were mirror-like, and the bright autumn sunshine had softly enhanced the colors of the surrounding landscape. Thus, the nearby hills peered into the waters.
In addition to all this beauty, we enjoyed incredible tranquility. During our near nine-hour transition, we met a total of (at different times) 7-8 people, a number even smaller than our enthusiastic group.
It all started with our journey from Sofia to the lift station for the Rila Lakes, at the resort village "The panic. " We were a group of enthusiastic tourists, lovers of the mountains and interesting hikes.
The route we took can be divided into the following stages, with an estimated time to go without breaks included:
- Stage 1: lift station - Rila Lakes Hut (30 minutes);
- stage 2: hut "Rila Lakes" - hut "Seven Lakes", also known as "Old Hut" (1 hour);
- Stage 3: The Seven Lakes Hut - Green Ridge (1 Hour);
- Stage 4: Green Ridge - Fish Lake (45 minutes);
- Stage 5: Fish Lake - Big Pan Lake (45 minutes);
- Stage 6: Great Panic Lake - Yavorova Polyana (2,5 hours);
- Stage 7: Yavorova Polyana - Gyolechetsa, under the Malyovitsa PSC (30 minutes).
Stage 1: lift station - Rila Lakes Hut
There are no special features at this stage, except that you have to provide suitable clothes for the lift - often it is quite windy.
Stage 2: Rila Lakes Chalet - The Seven Lakes Chalet, also known as the Old Chalet
In fact, this is the beginning of a real transition. The path at this stage is not difficult - it is wide and there are no large displacements in general. At the end of the stage, you pass the Lower Lake and the Fish Lake, both parts of the Seven Rila Lakes.
Stage 3: Seven Lakes Hut - Green Ridge
From the Seven Lakes Hut and the Fish Lake, the Urdini Lake Trail ascends smoothly to the stone peak of Haramia, cutting it.
The winter stake marking leading to the ridge serves as a reference point here. At the foot of Haramiyata peak, the trail goes around another beautiful Rila lake - "Chanaka". It does not fall into the group of the Seven Rila Lakes, nor is it part of the Urdins.
After circling the lake from the west, the path smoothly goes up to the ridge. When we went up, we looked back more than once - one after another other lakes from the group of "Seven" were revealed. The trail climbs quite high - about 2500 meters above sea level. From the hut "Seven Lakes" to "Green Hill" the displacement is more than 500 meters. In these highest parts we saw the first snow.
On top of the ridge ("Green Hill") we took a break for lunch at an interesting sight - three of the "Urdin" lakes. There are six of them in total - "Dry", "Fish", "Triangle", "Drowning", "Big panic" and "Little panic". Three of them could be seen from the ridge where we ate. Before continuing with the transition to the lakes, we deviated a little from the route. We moved forward to the edge of the ridge to look at the many mountain peaks ahead, including Musala Peak, Bezbog Peak in Pirin (slightly to the south) and part of Stara Planina looking north. Amazing views!
Stage 4: Green Ridge - Fish Lake
After a stable rest on the ridge, we started the long descent. We had to overcome more than 1000 meters of displacement. From the central mountain ridge we headed to the first "Urdino" lake on the trail. It is also called the "Fish" lake, as one of the Seven Rila Lakes.
And if the ridge could be relied on for winter marking, then there was no marking from the ridge, which is one of the difficulties of the route. However, to say that there the path of curvature along the river Urdin, which can serve as an irrevocable landmark.
Stage 5: Fish Lake - Big Pan Lake
This is one of the most picturesque parts of the trail - you can see the lakes, the creek and the majestic Malyovitsa peak.
One of the lakes of the Urdini Group (Dry) offers picturesque views, albeit from a distance.
On one of the edges descending from the peak of Malyovitsa, there is a trail going down in this part of the mountain. I hope we can go through it some day.
The path runs past a cottage (shepherd's), with benches for tourists in front of it and a tube of running Rila water from which one can replenish their water supplies for the remainder of the transition.
The stage ends with one of the large "Urdini" lakes - the Big Panic, which collects the waters of a large waterfall flowing from another "Urdino" lake - the "Little Panic". When we were there, the lake was in the shade, which gave its waters a rich ink color.
Stage 6: Great Panic Lake - Yavorova Polyana
The trail and scenic views continue down the river Urdin. The lakes were behind us. The waterfalls, rapids and fountains of the river followed, and the two high Rila ridges that surrounded it.
In this part another difficulty of the route appeared: the path passes several times from one to the other bank of the river Urdina and so the river has to be crossed repeatedly on a ford of river stones. At one of the last intersections, it was quite wide and we just couldn't keep our feet dry. Another feature of the trail in this section is that it is quite rocky with some steep fragments.
Stage 7: Yavorova Polyana - Gyolechitsa, under the Malyovitsa Central Power Station
This is the final route right. After the meadow there is a slight climb, for the last and then - even. The river crosses again in several places - either on a bridge or on logs. Care should be taken when passing logs - if they are wet, they are very slippery and difficult to walk on.
It happened to us that we passed this stretch in the dark. Good thing we were explicitly warned to carry shuttles. It was already quite chilly after the sun had hidden. The fallen frost had made the logs above the river slippery and difficult to cross. All adventure!
After almost nine hours of steady walking (with all the breaks representing just over an hour and a half in total), the Urdi Lakes adventure is over. It was great! Undoubtedly, all of our small group were pleased with the achievements.
One tip: if you go down the route I just described, be sure to prepare yourself with high shoes, sticks and a shuttle (clothes are the default season). If the day is sunny, don't forget the sunscreen, regardless of the season!
Personal impressions and achievements
This was our first hike with a mountain guide, in fact two guides - Lubo and Nelly. Thank you both very much for the adventure and helpful tips!
It turns out that having a guide on unknown and unmarked trails is a bit of a "lazy" job - you don't frantically search for information and route guidance before the day of the trek, you don't follow maps and markings. You just enjoy the views. In addition, they inform you readily about all the interesting places - rivers, lakes, peaks, saddles and meadows you pass through. You also learn useful things and subtleties of mountaineering.
For myself, I found the convenience of going on a long mountain pass along an easy trail with sticks (true, it sounds like "I found warm water", but it was a fact). Up until that point, I thought the sticks would only prevent me. On the contrary, they reduced some of the tension in the knees, especially when coming down.
With the help of the sticks (and our guides Lubo and Nelly, of course) I overcame the anxiety I had when crossing a river on a ford of stones. Ever since I fell into the river above the village of Chavdar, towards the Kazanite waterfall, last year, I have been afraid to cross rivers and I have tried to avoid such routes.
In conclusion: The route is great, especially for the more advanced hikers. If you are new to mountain hiking, be sure to get some experience first. The hike is moving enough, the views are incredible and the valley of the river Urdina is not the most visited, so the tranquility is safe there.
More about the boundless Bulgarian trails visit drumivdumi.com and meet Eli.