TET Balkans

Dramas, anectodes, and fairytales. Cock-and-bull stories, too.

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Ni3ous
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Re: TET Balkans

Post by Ni3ous » Wed Jan 10, 2018 9:04 am

TET Balkans

Day 5

Teth Valley - Albania.

This time of year is my time ... it's 5 in the morning and there is already daylight outside. I woke up without alarm clock as ussualy. When I get off the bed, I usually put my riding (protective) gear on me immediately. Saved time for getting dressed twice and less confusion when packing. If protective equipment is high quality and precisely selected, then it is not disturbing to wear it any time of a day.

Last night I came to the valley in the dark and only this morning I saw where I am. I was surrounded with high mountains. Teth is deep down in the valley.

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Early morning was quiet and peacefull when I walked around the Theth village trying to absorb it.

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Sun is up and clouds are gone. What a nice day. Great for riding! Cant wait to swing a leg over a bike again so I slowly return in a guesthouse to Francesco, who already prepared good breakfast with eggs and fresh cheese that they produce in this valley.

Guesthouse:

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Before 7 am I am already riding from Theth towards Shkoder. As ussual I spent quite some time for taking videos and photos, which is usually done on a way - going past when you find out that this could be worth a shot. Then you come back, place the camera, then one or two ridethrough's, then back, pick and pack up the equipment and continuing the TET. That procedure takes quite some time. However it is important to do so, if I want to make one video in the end of the trip because 2/3 of the material is usually not good enough.
On the other hand If some spot is really nice I would just drive by, but with filming I spend some time around so I manage to get more from it and absorb the lanscape.

On the way from Theth towards Prekal in the direction to Shkoder.

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Here in the picture below, the trail descends almost to the bottom of the valley again, and then along the entire valley to the last mountain on the horizon and than continuing right.

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Always something interesting to be found on the way...

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Its important to travel with joy, explore the area not to have some strict schedules in mind... I usually do that, but I still regret I did not go and explore what was on the other side or that bridge. There was a tiny but well used path on the other side and went around the corner. I imagine there is probably small hidden little homestead that looks like in a fairy tale. I guess I'll have to come back to see.

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Further on...

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From Theth towards Shkoder It takes about 2-3 hours of riding to reach asphalt again.
In the "suburb" of Shkodra there are nice options for re-supplying and fixing the bike.
This is first good option for everything in the last 400 km (if on TET), so I quickly take advantage of it and take a visit to a local scooter service, so I can do some maintanence work on my thrusty Tenere that never fails on me.

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New "snake wire" that snapped in MNE mountains when I had a crash.

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A bit of welding on the pedestrian area outside on the street

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From Theth to Shkoder there is about 20 km of asphalt, but you will enjoy it, since its been a while when on it.

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Soon trails begin again and they develop into nice dynamic and diverse sections that offer unique views of nature. The world is changing here compared to Montenegro and Teth .... no more highlands or deep forests, more small hills, small trees, bushes and more views over the landscape ....

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Excellent terrain for driving. Tenere feels great on such open terrain and you can really enjoy it.

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Newly built road section. They re-routed the entire road for some 5 km. They are building a lot in Albania... in this case a dam.

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Two years ago road went on the other side of the mountains where now is dam filled with water. This is one of the reasons why there are TET gpx updates.
So its important to use most up to date gpx files that are available on www.transeurotrail.com and download them just before starting the trip and not months before.

New section...

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...to the dam.

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Back on the old road and continuing into town Rreshen.
I stop at the store in the end of the city. It was really hot that day, so I take a rest in a shade. One small beer cant harm.

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Small markets (there arent any big supermarkets) in Albania are not made by a system - self service. When you enter the shop you reach the counter and you need to tell the seller on the other side of the counter what you want and then he brings it to you. Language barrier is huge so getting cheese, bread and salami is already a proper task . Getting beer is easy, just name few worldwide known brands and you get something for sure.
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Roman,
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Re: TET Balkans

Post by Ni3ous » Wed Jan 10, 2018 10:05 am

TET continues towards Fushe Lure National Park.... After another hour of gravel I reach the turn for Lure Park.

I already covered a lot of ground in this hot day and I was already tired. It was late in the afternoon when I reach sign that is announcing National Park Lure. The trail through the park leads over the mountains on about 1700 meters above sea, and through it there is 7 lakes on a way. (Liqeni = lake)

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At that moment, I was the most tired on the whole trip so far ... the terrain went from "bad to worse".
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When I climbed the national park, I felt I was very remote; in fact, this national park is the most remote in the whole TET Balkans. I really do not want to get in trouble here because nobody is close to help. Rescue would not be possible with the jeep since there was at one point huge (1 meter) rock rolled on the road and there was not enough space for car, only enough space for motorcycle to pass. At least I use SPOT tracker since there was no phone signal.
All ok, one just needs to be aware of the situation and play safe. I had full camelback + 1,5 litres of spare water + food and I was riding at safe speeds.
Enough dramatisation. :D


The more I climbed deep into the Lura Park, more beautiful it was...

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Late afternoon picnic and rest in the sun by one of the many lakes ...

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Further on in Lure park

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All varieties of terrain on the way through ...

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Progress through Fushe Lure park is slow since terrain is demanding and exhausting.

Here I meet the only man on the whole mountain in the last hours. The man has serious shotgun, so you wanna stick with friendy "I came in peace" aproach. :lol

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We quickly become interested in each other ... I'm interested in a gun ...

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...and they were interested where I was, where I am headed and the bike.

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The man owned 600 sheeps that were on meadows around us. I ask what is with this gun all about and he explains: ORSO PROBLEM.

Orso means bear. And that's why they have guns around here and they never leave home without one..
Okay I think to my self, I better get off the mountain by the dark, because I am not camping here overnight in this national park.

After a pleasant chat, which looked more like some swinging with hands and using mix of Italian, Serbian etc. words spoken loud and slow like we might understand any better. :facepalm

I slowly move forward because sun is getting low on the sky and I am still very deep in the midle of the mountins.
I have an intention to get off the mountain and reach some village where I could camp nearby in an area where bear understands that there are people and guns nearby and hopefully wont try to approach.

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Distancees here can sometimes be measured in time rather than in kilometres.

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Then there is a section where the storm has completely taken the path away, only flushed boulders left. It was not easy to find a safe way through.

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Re: TET Balkans

Post by trunkenpolz » Thu Jan 11, 2018 4:29 pm

awesome ride report roman, thank you for that. i really appreciate this. i am planning to go exactly the same route in late may/early june. i am so looking forward to all these amazing tracks and landscapes.
best regards
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Re: TET Balkans

Post by trunkenpolz » Thu Jan 11, 2018 9:22 pm

What tires did you use?
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Ni3ous
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Re: TET Balkans

Post by Ni3ous » Thu Jan 11, 2018 9:56 pm

@trunkenpolz thanks! I am happy you enjoy the report. You will enjoy the tracks, people and landscapes also.

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After I manage to safely cross washed away trail over the boulders, I ride for another 20 minutes when behind the bend I see this hut ... two young men are filling the stove with the wood... I notice they have small rifle resting on the side of the wall. I stop because I'm tired, even though I do not have time and I'll probably have to ride in the dark anyway. I ask them for water and they had plenty, so I also fill up camelbak. I'm interested in what they are doing here in the mountains and trying to make a conversation.

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So they invited me inside to see what they are doing here.
They are collecting sheeps milk from the whole National park Fushe Lure and they are producing the best quality cheese, which is then transported and sold in Tirana for premium customers at high price.

I know something about cheese making so we talk a bit. Than one of them cuts off a generous piece of fresh cheese for me ... Very nice of them.

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I am just expressing huge gratitude for it and they immediately say that money is not accepted ... I put the cheese in a big bag and taste a sample of it... uhhh sooo goood... I quickly reach back in a bag and break down another, but this time a very big piece of cheese, and I ate it like its my last day on earth. The exhaustion and fatigue of the day took its toll, the body was undernourished and was screaming for water and nutrients. Time was right for that. Therefore cheese was the best that I ever ate in my life. It felt like nutrients are going straight into the blood, I took some more water and was slowly coming back to myself.


When I left, I was a little sorry I did not remember and ask where are they sleeping. I am sure they stay on the mountain. Maybe I could find a secure shelter with them over night. They seemed prepared and also had that gun for safety.

So I continue riding over the mountain...

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There was about half an hour to the dark. And to get down off the mountain for another hour or more, plus before I find the right place to spend the night and make a shelther, it just takes a while.

I continue the trail and again more open terrain and I see the valley. My timing predictions match, I do not get out of the mountain by the dark, because the sun already went behind the mountains.

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When I was exploring this area few years ago with my enduro buddies, we were running out of fuel, and I knew that I had to be near that mine, where we were then asking for fuel. Workers in the mine have fuel as much as you want ... but the mining machinery all works only on diesel. Not even a drop of gasoline around here. I managed to find the mine and stop at the miners.

Hasim at the mine

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Spoke a few words with them and Hasim (the leader of the mine) remembers the team with enduro bikes (us) a couple of years ago when we searched for fuel. He than became more trustworthy immediately. I make it clear that I am alone and I am looking for shelter for overnight. He hesitated for a moment and looked at the rest of the crew ... Than showed me a container on the hill, next to a huge excavator. He says I can sleep in a container where parts for the excavator are. I am more than happy to accept the offer, because the container is made of steel and bear will not eat me-at least not tonight. :teasing-neener:

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The mine is located in a beautiful viewpoint

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The boys kindly accepted me in their living room inside the house, besides there is a kitchen. They offered me a plate of some kind of soup, which was almost only a poorly salted warm water. I find that they are in the mountains and that life is very modest here. They do not eat meat here often. Great, now it's up to me to thank them for the hospitality and pull out the sausage, the bread, the fresh cheese I got from the shepherds an hour ago. :handgestures-thumbup:

I split everithing evenly onto the plates that were still on the table from the soup. They started with hesitation, but soon we all ate. Then I cooked on my camping stove some pasta carbonara and again spread it evenly on all the plates a little bit. Now this has become a true feast. I also had a nice pack of cooked peeled chestnuts in a vacuum bag which I brought from home and was saving it as an emergency meal. Ahhh it was tasty! And for the finish I offer a dessert - sweet dates ... we ate it all. Hah tomorrow my sidebags will be much lighter.

I certainly mamanged to spice up their menu and the benefit was mutual. It was late evening and we were hanging in their living room. Despite the language barrier, we were able to talk about everything from the system of digging the ore in the mine (digging the ore of chromium). Hasim was the leader of the mine and responsible for mining. He also opened a dynamite warehouse, explained everything and showed it. First day they drill holes, than insert the dynamite on the next day in the morning, blow it all up, and then manually load and drive the ore out of the pit all day. Repeat exercise every other day. I was impressed by their hygiene and order in the house and around the mine. All very well arranged and organized. The living room on the ground is rough concrete, but not single dirt there. In the kitchen all dishes are exquisitely washed and sorted. Outside under the roof there was a line of boots, stockings, equipment ... everything sorted like in a the military. I was impressed.

The system and sitting in the house was very hierarchical. On each side there were other workers by the table on a simple wooden benches without a backing. I immediately got the most comfortable part of the couch in the midle where there were a whole lot of pillows available. They did not allow me to sit anywhere else than there. I am sure that Hasim (leader) has resigned his alpha position in front of the TV. He also pushed in front of me a bench so I could have my legs on it. I did not want all that, but they did not let me any other way.

When the darkness fell it got quite chilly outside, we were in relatively high mountains after all. Just before we started with dinner, young skinny bony guy with a bit dirty face appeared from the darkness into the house. He had a long wooden stick in one hand. I soon realized this is local shephard, who is pasturing in the surrounding area. He just came to warm him self a bit inside the house and spend some time with people. He seemed lonely. By the attitude from miners towards him, I got the feeling that he often invites himself there. He did not get a place to sit, he was leaning on a wall a little distant from all of the rest. Whenever I looked towards him, he stared at me so strong as I would be the seventh wonder. An interesting man, he was only watching, he did not took part in any of the conversation that evening. He was just quiet. I assume that miners do not share any food with him (maybe also because they did not live in abundance too), because every time I offered food to the miners, I had to force him to take some food too. Shepherd always looked first at the miners like he needs their aproval. It felt like he cant understand that he really can get some food this time. He was very thankfull for the food. You could see that in his eyes.

The evening was interesting, but I was getting really tired. I rode about 250 km this day.

Miners also slowly went to sleep and turned off the generator, so all lights turned off, including the light in the yard. With the small headlight on I go up the trail,to the container. When I open the door there were huge parts from the excavator. Smell inside was like in some kind of workshop, a mixture of oil, gunk and diesel ... I remove few parts and push one under the bed because there is about 10 liters of engine oil in it, then I push away long thick hydraulic tubes and a couple of oil cans to reach the bed. I found some blankets in the corner, went to bed and immediately fell asleep. I checked twice the latch on the door. Bear you wont get me tonight. :angry-nono:

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Re: TET Balkans

Post by Ard » Fri Jan 12, 2018 6:26 am

Cracking stuff Roman ! Shame you won't be in Kiev :-(
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Re: TET Balkans

Post by Ni3ous » Fri Jan 12, 2018 8:26 am

trunkenpolz wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 9:22 pm
What tires did you use?
I used Mitas C17 front and Dunlob D606 rear. Both can do 3000 km with no problem.
Ussually I use Mitas C17 and C02 rear. Also great and cheap combo for riding far on demanding terrain and still using very agressive type of knobbies which offers fantastic grip at dinamic riding.
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Roman,
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Re: TET Balkans

Post by Ni3ous » Fri Jan 12, 2018 8:27 am

Ard wrote:
Fri Jan 12, 2018 6:26 am
Cracking stuff Roman ! Shame you won't be in Kiev :-(
Thanks Ard! I am still working on Kiev..., but its going to be difficult.
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Re: TET Balkans

Post by Blue(UK) » Fri Jan 12, 2018 3:42 pm

Awesome trip.
It’s great that you manage to converse with the locals. Thanks for sharing.
Last edited by Blue(UK) on Fri Jan 12, 2018 6:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: TET Balkans

Post by Team MandM » Fri Jan 12, 2018 5:38 pm

Superb photos and text. Did a little part of the Tet in Bosnia last year. Hope we get the possibility to do some more this year.

Jens
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