Hiking in the Rila Mountains

Hiking in the Rila Mountains

This post was updated on August 25th, 2020

Off the beaten track – Rila Lakes, 2nd Hut

Yesterday we ended the day with the sunset from Eagle’s Eye near Yagodina. Today, we are starting with a long drive before the chairlift is taking is to the starting point of our hiking tour in the Rila Mountains. Follow me 🙂

Rila Lakes, 2nd Hut, Sunday 24, June, 2018

Communication issues early in the morning

Where are Evo, Karin, and Phil?
I have made my way down to what looks like the breakfast room/restaurant, but no one except for hotel employees is here yet. Unfortunately, they don’t speak much English, and I don’t talk much Bulgarian. You really don’t get far, if your language skills stop after saying hello, yes, and no … oh I can say thank you too, but that’s pretty much it. So communications are slightly tricky.

But, of course, once Evo arrives, everything just works out fine. This little experience makes me want to learn Bulgarian even more, I might never become fluent at it, but whatever I can get into my head might help when I come back in the future. Anyway, it is time for breakfast now, that Evo can help to order it 🙂 

Once more, we are treated to a delicious breakfast, with pancakes & jam, and yogurt as well as delicious herbal tea. Who would have known that I would eventually fall for herbal tea? 

Time to leave Yagodina behind

After breakfast it is time to leave Yagodina. However, I need to reconfigure my luggage first. The next two days are dedicated to hiking the Rila mountains. This means that I am not going to take my suitcase with me. It also means, that I have to make some room in my backpack for some clothes and some extra food. So some of my stuff needs to stay in the car. Only what am I going to take and what is going to stay behind?

Once more, Evo is helping me sorting everything out, ensuring that I don’t take a single piece too much. Also ensuring, of course, that I do not forget the nuts or the granola bars 😀
I cannot say that my backpack, in the end, is a gram lighter than before though. Maybe I should get a bigger one for the next tour to come?

It is a long drive up to Pionerska Hut (Bulgarian: Хижа Пионерска) near Panichishte (Bulgarian: Паничище), from where we take the chairlift up into the mountains. We only arrive with some minutes to spare before the last chairlift leaves for the day.

Up into the Rila Mountains we go

I haven’t taken a chairlift for more than 20 years, so how are we going to get those backpacks with us?

Karin and Phil take the first chair, so I can watch them and get an idea, while Evo and I take the second.

It is so peaceful up here. Chatting along during the 20-minute ride to cover the roughly 600m in elevation gap, the time passes fast as always. I am so lucky that I got rid of that fear of heights just in time for this experience. 

Upon arrival at the top station, 2150 meters above sea level, Evo arranges for me to get some help getting out of the lift to avoid further accidents.

Wandering in Rila Mountains

Time for us to finally start the hiking – we are probably the last ones who came up with the lift today, and it is still uncertain if it will operate tomorrow at all, as it will be Maintenance-Monday. But we’ll see that when we come back. Now it’s time for Evo to lead the way. Not, of course, without stopping every now and then to take some photographs.

Wild flowers along the Seven Lakes - Hiking in the Rila Mountains
Wild flowers along the Seven Lakes

With our arrival at the first of the seven lakes – Lower Lake (Bulgarian: Долното езеро) at 2095 meters – asks for a stop to photograph some flowers, which of course we make. While I am still thinking about what to photograph up here, Evo asks if I’d like to follow him. Of course, I do. So we make for the southern end of the lake.

Reflections in Lower Lake - Hiking in the Rila Mountains
Reflections in Lower Lake

Soon enough we decide to end our break and head-on, after all, we do want to make it to the Charlet 7 Lakes (Bulgarian: Хижа седемте езера) before dark. Of course, if there is a waterfall along the way…there is no way we would not stop for another photoshoot.

Waterfall leading into Lower Lake - Hiking in the Rila Mountains
Waterfall leading into Lower Lake

Fish Lake & Charlet 7 Lakes

I am starting to feel sorry for Phil, whom’s camera is stowed away in a bag of rice hoping that it will dry out completely. I don’t know what I would have done if it had been my camera on this tour. Sometimes it would be nice to have a second camera body, just in case.

After three hours of hiking, we reach the Second Hut, or Charlet 7 Lakes, at 2184meters above sea level. But there is another lake, Fish Lake (Bulgarian: Рибното езеро) right in front of it. So, of course, we are using what’s left in daylight to take some more photos. 

Fish Lake - Hiking in the Rila Mountains
Fish Lake

Once the light fades away, I am so ready to settle into a beautiful, cozy, and warm mountain hut. Karin immediately tells me to stop expecting nice, comfortable, and warm. Well, cozy is what you make from it. Warm, however, is quite a different problem.

This is not a modern chalet with all kinds of modern equipment. Actually, the toilets are outside in a separate building, and running hot water is unheard of. So yea, it is a roof over my head and a bed to roll into. Not to mention some simple food. Do I need more? We’ll find out tonight.

Nightfall over Fish Lake - Hiking in the Rila Mountains
Nightfall over Fish Lake

As it turns out, the generator is not working either, so we have no chance to recharge our batteries. Good, I packed quite a few for my camera. 

Once more, we enjoy our dinner in the dining room where a wood oven is ensuring some warmth and comfort. But it is already late, the weather was not entirely playing along with us, so there is no chance of nighttime photography anyway. Instead, we head into our beds. Tomorrow one last long day of hiking and fun is waiting for us…I just wished it wasn’t the last of this tour. 

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