Last weekend M., his brother B., and I ventured forth to the Rila mountains. It was one of the hottest days so far and we figured the mountains would offer a cooler way to stay outside with less heat. In a way, we were right. In many more ways, we were wrong but this made it more of an adventure!
Our first folly was choosing the hottest day ever to take a car without air conditioning on a road trip. We had yet to step foot on a mountain and we were sweating! It was still worth it, but maybe not our brightest idea. Still, the mountain offered shade and cool breezes so once we began the trip upward, it was lovely. There’s a little fountain on the way where you can stop and grab a gulp of cold mountain water. Once up, you pay to park and then you buy your tickets up the lift. You can also walk up the mountain which some people were doing but the lift was our choice. It takes about 30 or so minutes and it was a bit thrilling. There is just a pull down bar keeping you in and it’s just open air all around you!
The lift brought us to a large building where we hopped off the moving lift and decided which path to take. The left path seemed easier. It was less steep and more people seemed to be moving along that trail. I think next time I’ll take the right side path which is very steep but will offer more views I think. I also hear that after you climb up the steep path it flattens out and is less strenuous. As you see, our chosen path was very rocky!
So, we chose the left path as I said and we were in for a far more difficult hike than planned. The altitude did cause me some shortness of breath but I have some lung problems so just keep this in mind if you have asthma. There are many rocks to stop and take a break on. There was even snow! We dug our hands into the cold snow and cooled ourselves off. I thought maybe we had walked a mile but … it was hardly half a mile!
When I thought I would never see a lake, we finally arrived at the first lake! It was sparkling and a beautiful azure blue. In the distance to the right was a little house M. said he had stayed at before, so this is an option if you want to stay overnight inside the park!
It was after this lake that we realized we would have to climb some rocks, cross some gushing rivers and walk different paths than the suggested ones which were slick mud if we wanted to see another lake. I thought perhaps we would turn back but M. was having none of this and in a surprising display of enthusiasm for the less than pleasurable hike, he ushered B. and I onwards.
After clambering over rocks and literally hopping on precariously balanced rocks by a waterfall, we arrived at the second lake! It was worth it. We were so close and the water was so clear and beautiful. I saw some tadpoles and frogs, large leafy plants, and a hiker even gave us a bottle of water because we looked ravaged!
There was no way to the rest of the lakes that we thought was safe or feasible so we began our way back. At this point, the lift had closed. It closes at 4:30pm so we hired a Jeep to take us down. This was adventure part 2. It was like a rollercoaster. Bumps, teetering on 2 wheels, branches smacking me through the windows. I actually couldn’t stop laughing. It was pretty fun. I’d do it again. I’d do all of this again, actually.
All in all, I had an amazing time. And I got one heck of a tan. Wear some sunscreen people! Don’t be like me! I thought it would be more shaded but on top it is very open and you will need protection from the bright sun.
All in all, this is a place that I highly recommend you see!!!