With the beginning of the New Year, we began the new season group preparations for the new challenges that have been outlined in our agenda.
Visiting this region was one of our oldest wishes, and we finally got to realize it when we received some good weather information. We organized a small group of 10 trail runners and 2 hikers and we started our adventure early in the morning on Sunday (01/18/2015) of the city of Shtip.
It was early in the morning, there were icy streets at the end of the city. After we passed the road that lead to the village Shashavarlija, we passed nearby the monastery sv. Nedela.
We climbed a little more and then turned left – off road – in the direction of the valley of the Blagova River. This area, the lower parts of Plachkovitsa, is characterized by several hills and deep valleys or canyons, some of which are very colorful, with many small and large waterfalls and cascades. it was very early and the track was very hardened – there was no mud and we ran across ice and snow as well.
As we continued to move towards the village Radanje, we ran across beautiful slopes that were a perfect running terrain. We would occasionally get illuminated by the sun.
Before we reached Radanje, we crossed a small creek and had a meeting with a pack of hounds, fortunately we didn’t have any problems. We got a warm welcome from the village hosts as we passed through it and we continued running in the direction of the archaeological site Bargala.
By the time we reached Bargala, we had crossed several small water streams of the Kozjachka river – jumping from one stone to another, we generally did well.
The Bargala archaeological site was very nice and well-preserved. Later we were joined by the site’s guard who explained more about what we were looking at. The main remains were from an ancient city from 4-5 century AC. It was a late Roman military camp (castrum).
Eventually it became an Episcopal city and the remains of the Episcopal Church were really interesting. there are remains of baths (large and small), water tanks, warehouses, glass and metal workshops and wineries. It was getting cold, so we had to continue our journey.
On our way back we were following the path to Radanje, but we took a left above the village and caught the crest of the hill – we were running on grass, sometimes parallel to the asphalt road. After a few kilometers we turned right as we were heading towards the two Yoruk villages, Kurfalija and Odzhalija.
Yoruks are a part of the Turkish people who moved here in the 14th century AC – you can read more. They are a peaceful and hardworking community who live isolated from the world, therefore they have their own. On our way to these villages, it began to rain.
We descend from the village Odzholija to the river which was almost empty, the bed was about 50m wide and completely flat – which indicates that there are times when due to heavy rain, the river overflows and creates a strong nose in the front. We ran on sand and stones for a few kilometers. It was raining constantly. We started climbing the steep, slippery and muddy terrain to the village of Gorni Gaber.
Above the village, we decided to head back – leaving the idea of visiting the village Nikoman for some other time. The journey continued as we created our own little adventure. While using our GPS device and our already good built-in sense of orientation, we managed to climb to the ridge of this part of the mountain and then descend down. Then followed a beautiful canyon with a nice and partly-iced waterfall. Miki got under the waterfall to take a picture of it.
Then we found a section of the road near the Blagova river that had a 5km run to Shtip – the surface was quite muddy. We passed 38km with about 1300m altitude difference. We also visited beautiful and interesting places, which are always a bonus to our journeys.
In the end, we refreshed ourselves in one fine restaurant in Shtip.