We booked two nights in Valbonä, giving us time to explore other trails before taking the most popular one to Theth. Having read a couple of blogs, we settled on hiking up the Rosni Peak (Maja Rosit), crossing the Albanian border, and venturing for a while into the Montenegrin part of the mountains. The path sounded challenging but scenic - a beautiful Albanian Alps adventure we couldn’t pass on.
Rosni Peak hike summary
- Distance: 21 km
- Moving time: 8h 5m
- Total time: 9h 36m
- Elevation gain: 1'682m
- Highest point: 2'525m
Hiking in Albania: mind the signs
The trail starts off the main road crossing Valbonä. Despite a few signs along the way, some crossroads and trails lack markings, while some existing markings have deteriorated or been knocked over over time. It was not always clear where to go next. Even though we had downloaded an Alltrail map, we did a few short detours, costing us 10-15 minutes in total. Admittedly, a small price to pay for not having to stare at your phone all the time.
Rosni Peak part 1: the quiet Albanian Alps
We started the hike around 7 AM, immediately after breakfast. The sun was still rising and covered Valbona in a beautiful glow of sunrise. Almost at the outset, the trail began to ascend and continued the trajectory until we reached the peak. That being said, the first and, by far, the easiest third of the hike was pretty chilled. The road passed a few scattered houses and campsites and eventually led through a refreshing shade of a dense forest. Although uphill, the walk remained pleasant, so we chatted away while enjoying the serenity of the countryside. We even debated whether our little nieces could do the hike. Oblivious to what was ahead of us. Why the trail profile in the app didn’t scare us from doing the hike remains a mystery, but I am happy it didn’t.
Rosni Peak part 2: The romantic Albanian Alps
The second leg of the journey leads through meadows. Immediately, it evoked a romantic and poetic mood, which later helped deal with the ascent. This was the quintessential alpine experience we were craving: the vastness of the blue sky above, the firm majesty of the mountains around us, and the cheerfulness of the flower fields beneath our feet, all accompanied by the jingle of cow bells echoing through the valley. Yes! We felt embraced with the powerful energy only the Alps can deliver.
After 2.5 hours of hiking, we took our first break next to a little shed, doubling down as a little shop. Since there are no water refill stations nor any accessible water streams on the entire trail (at least at this time of the year), this little pop-up store becomes the ultimate source for getting any refreshments besides the ones you’ve packed.
It was a hot sunny day; the temperature was 30 degrees. Although we each had 2l of water, it soon became apparent it was insufficient. We really should have had the double of that. Inevitably, we had to ration our water intake and finished the hike really dehydrated, each downing a liter of water in one gulp upon return.
Rosni Peak part 3: the majestic Albanian Alps
The last part of the hike is punishingly, mercilessly steep. Not everyone ends up going all the way up. We saw a couple turn around, defeated, 15 minutes before reaching the summit. Other hiker groups split, half waiting for the others to go up and rejoin them on the descent.
Can we do it?
We crossed a joyful older Dutch man on his way down, encouraging us to persevere and not be intimidated by the particularly hard section of the trail. So, one step at a time, with regular breathing stops, we continued and gradually reached the top. We had ascended 1’650 meters and were now having a lunch snack from the Rosni Peak at the height of 2’524 meters. The man did not lie. The view was worth it. We felt profoundly at peace, seated there in silence, embracing the majesty of the mountains and listening to the wind blowing through the valley.
The way down was easier on the heart rate but really hard on the quadricep and calve muscles. It seriously hurt. We adapted a higher pace and even did a bit of jogging on the flatter surfaces, letting gravity do most of the work. Having completed “the harder” part, we now concentrated on returning to the village as soon as possible.
We saw the sunset while cooling our feet in the mountain river. The 1 euro beer from the mini market was a great accompaniment.
The hike was as difficult physically as it was mentally. Just when we began to think we had reached our limits, a breather break would bring a new impulse of energy and motivation to continue. When one of us was down, the other lifted the spirit. For the last 2-3 hours leading up to the peak, neither of us thought or spoke of anything else - we were merely focusing on breathing and the path ahead. Very few other activities can level with the meditative effect of hiking. I would passionately advocate for this to be prescribed to anyone thinking a lot in their everyday life. Give your brain a break it deserves.