When I was on my way to the far south of Kosovo, I had my eyes on some small lakes I had noticed on the map on my phone. I saw several trails marked, and I concluded it should be possible to find my way around and have a good day up there. When I park my car near the Arxhena hotel, there is no one else around. Arxhena is the base for skiing, and the lift is still out there. I decide not to take the most obvious trail, but one going further up into Brod valley. There are markers, and even distance indicated, so the first part of the hike is easy. The climbing is moderate, and although the sky is completely covered in clouds, I hope the weather will stay OK for the rest of the day. With my thoughts wondering, I am startled when a big pack of dogs appear on a ridge just above me, fiercely barking, and on their way down to me. They do not look friendly at all, and when I can see their eyes and hear their breathing, I start to wonder what I should do. Just at that moment, a shepherd kid with a wooden stick appears from behind me, shouting and hitting the dogs, and telling me all is OK.
He then asks if I am with my brother, pointing to someone walking half a kilometre ahead. I wondered if I should take the upper trail (which looks more trustworthy on the map) or continue straight. Now that I see someone walking there, I decide to follow suit. I catch up just when the trail ends at the brook that is Brod river here. I see some imprints in the mud, and the man confirms: yes, that is a bear, and he was here yesterday. We have a chat, this is a guy from Prizren who has a second home in Brod, and who knows this area well. He is going back to see his family, and I decide to take off my shoes, wade through the cold water, and make my way up the other side of the brook. The higher I get, the better the views, of tall waterfalls, the green valley, the grassy slopes full of flowers. The trail gets vaguer and vaguer the higher I get, until I lose it, and decide to walk straight up. After seeing a beautiful rolled-up yellow snake, I make sure not to put my hands into the grass.I find the main trail, with serious markers again, and continue my hike. I see a farmhouse with horses, the guys shouting at me, but I cannot hear what they say.
A little higher, I find Shutman lake, the lake I had pinned on my map. I have reached my destination, but it is still early, so I decide to continue hiking. I see yet another, much smaller farm, and a shepherd with a herd of sheep. They look pretty: the white dots on the green slopes of the Šar mountains. Just to be sure, I take some stones with me, as I hear the dogs approaching, but these are not as aggressive, and let me pass. The trail turns, there are thick clouds in the sky, and I wonder what will happen with the weather. I reach patches of snow, and of course touch the snow just for the sensation of it. The trail markers are less easy to follow when the trail gets up the rocky mountain slope, and I make my way according to my own logic. Eventually, I see stones with white and red paint again, and walk straight into the clouds. When I reach the summit, at 2658 metres, I have reached Rudoka e Madhe, what later turns out to be the highest mountain of Kosovo. I sit on the marker stone to have something to eat, with one foot in Kosovo and the other in North Macedonia: the summit is shared between the two neighbouring countries. Every now and then, the wind blows away some of the clouds, and I am allowed a brief view onto the rocks and small lake below. I then walk back the same way, with beautiful big white clouds stuck against the green slopes, a skinny dip in shallow Shutmann lake, and a good view of the lower part of the valley, with perfect afternoon light. I have an early dinner at the restaurant near the skilift which now is open, to enjoy the view of Brodsky kamen, a rock formation just in front of me, before heading back to Brod.
Around the World in 80 Clicks
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Rudoka e Madhe Peak (Kosovo). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Rudoka e Madhe Peak. Read more about this site.