Below is the description of the “Classic Valbona Pass” hike sent to all participants by Outdoor Albania. Since ex-Marine and Travels With Sheila were excluded from this hike, I’ll let you read what is involved. All the great photographs were taken by Albert.
“Valbona Valley National Park is considered the gem of Albanian Alps. It is located 25-30 km/15-18 miles to the northwest of the town of Bajram Curri. It lies between high mountain peaks and it is a festival of colors and contrasts as well being rich in biodiversity. Valbona village is the focal point of the Park. Its configuration, hydrology, forests, flowers, rustic dwellings and the hospitality of its people make this park an ideal place to visit.
Today we will hike the classic pass of the Albanian Alps that for centuries linked the two most known valleys of the area, Valbona (Valbona pass; 1,966m/6,450′) and Thethi. We will use mules to carry the luggage to the next house. Highlanders from late spring use the path commonly, until the first snow of winter. Several springs of water will make the stops pleasant and refreshing, while admiring the steep and jagged surrounding peaks of Jezerca, Radohima, etc. From there the group will start the descent towards the village of Thethi (800m/2,646′) up to 8 hrs of walking.”
“Rrogam for next trek over the Pass of Valbona to Thethi village. This hike begins along the Shala River and climbs steeply to the settlement of Gjelaj and then through beech woodland to an alpine meadow. Shepherds from Thethi would formerly spend the summer tending their flocks here. Up into a high forested area and onto a real mountain track with views across the valley to Diagonal Pass and down to Thethi and the headwaters of the Shala River. At the pass, you can see Jezerca 2,682m/8,799′, the highest peak in Albania.” (I would have hated the section in the photograph below.)
The group said it was a wonderful hike but very steep and hard in parts. I never did get a blow-by-blow from anyone. Whether it was because they didn’t want Steve and myself to feel bad that we weren’t a part, or didn’t want to share other details. Whichever it was, perhaps the above will give you some idea of what to expect.