Day 14 – Mount Korab
10.20 miles / Total Ascent 1506m / Total Descent 1436m
And so to our final walk of the trip – an ascent of Mount Korab, the highest point in Albania. We had a long day in prospect, with a return trip to the top and back taking around 8 hours, plus a 4½ hour transfer to Tirana to fit in before our farewell dinner, so alarms were set for 5.00am in preparation for a 6.00am start.
|The start of the trail
|The early stages
Our intended route tackled the peak by a fairly straightforward route, rising at first beside a stream, then over meadows before angling up to the rocky summit, and gaining height steadily, and sometimes steeply, along the way.
|Following the stream
In the early morning, conversation was subdued although we made good progress, passing a waterfall and chatting briefly to a shepherd who had spent a year in Britain before returning to his home. As we climbed we could see the weather round the summit was a bit iffy – OK sometimes, clouded over at others – and it was quite clear as we progressed that there were some who were going better than others.
Although we stopped occasionally to get the group back together, a decision would have to be made as to whether the top was attainable – particularly as time was not really on our side. In the end it was decided that we would split, with half going for the top while the other half waited at the ridge below the summit.
I would have dearly loved to make the top. And, had we had more time available, I would have gone for it. But for some reason – I don’t know why – I wasn’t going particularly well that morning, and decided I’d have to opt out. Looking back, I feel disappointed about not making it, but it was the right choice. Others felt the same, so a group consisting of Endrit, Tony and Matt continued to the top, while Gent, Laura, Rebecca, me and Missy G made it as far as the ridge. At least we got a chance to look over into Macedonia.
|Looking into Macedonia
For the descent we simply retraced our steps. Our non-summit group had made it about half way down before the summit group caught up – they had made the top without too much trouble, but the views were limited by the low cloud, so they didn’t stay too long and soon set off back again.
|On the descent #1
|On the descent #2
The last half of the descent offered up the best weather of the walk, and we enjoyed a pleasant trundle in the sunshine as we made our way back to the village. There was just enough time for a quick beer and an ice cream at the bar, then it was time to load up and be on our way.
|Nearing the bottom
We dropped Gent, Laura and Vicki back at their hotel in Kukes, then made our way back to Tirana on the Albania-Kosovo highway. There was just enough time to check into our hotel, then it was off for our farewell dinner. We were rather too tired to paint the town red, but we did manage to squeeze in another ice cream on the way back.