Fall is in full swing and I’m nearing the end of my Ukraine adventure. For my final weekend of hiking, I swing down to the very tiny village of Volovets for one final hike. It’s an absolutely stunner of a day and there’s no plan other than to get to the top of the peaks. This turns out to be a loftier goal than I first imagined due to my poor trip planning and Ukraine’s lack of signage, which leads me down not just one, but five dead end trails.

After a small series of woodland misadventures through a gorgeous sun-dappled fall forest, I find a half-decent trail that points straight up a mountain, and in a few hours I’m standing on a beautiful ridge.

After a morning of heading straight up, it’s nothing but a leisurely stroll over to the summit of Mount Plai. Continuing along the ridge to the west is Velykyy Verkh, about four kilometers away. I want to head over as there’s a ski area perched on the far side, but my morning fuck-arounds have put me too far behind schedule. I have to settle to hit another closer peak that heads back down to Volovets.

This is the main trail that I should probably should have started on, and it’s completely stuffed with Saturday hikers, easily more than 100 of them, decked out in high-tech hiking gear and oversized backpacks.

After that, it’s straight downhill for about two hours back to town. My final shot of the day:

Fucking beautiful. Ukraine is a stunner of a country. Make sure to check it out someday.

Stray Observations

  • I found out there’s a Roma community in Volovets yesterday when I stumbled into their Roma community on a quick sunset hike. Unlike the neat farming cottages of town, the Roma settlement is a shanty town of founds scraps transformed into shelters.
  • I can’t seem to find any decent places to eat here in town so I bought a rotisserie chicken and ate in the park with two bottles of dark beer. There was an old woman nearby letting her cow feed on the grass.
  • I’ve heard that there’s some serious logging happening in the Carpathians, but it’s another thing to see it in person. For every beautiful shot that I posted over the last six weeks, there’s half a mountainside missing that’s been cleaned out for timber.

Where to Stay: There are guesthouses and hotels along the river, but I stayed about a 20 minute walk up the road with a farmer and his family. Check Booking.com for apartments around the village.

Where to Eat: A survey of restaurant reviews led me to believe that a gigantic roasted chicken from the supermarket would be preferable to anything else.

Where to Get Coffee: There’s a cozy café (Coffee House Volovets) at the end of town that also happens to serve gigantic mugs of ice cold beers.