the burdens we bear...

When we arrived the evening before, shivering and saturated after a hard slog through the elements, I was surprised to find the high mountain hostel already quite filled with guests.

We hadn't seen too many people on the trail coming up. In fact, for the last two hours, no one at all seemed to exist at this altitude. Just Nikola and me, all alone, in a grim march of determination to reach our destination before some final darkness.

It was then even more suprising to find these other guests sitting around comfortably in their shirt-sleeves and short pants, sipping coffee, playing cards, laughing at the dark stormy weather outside, not a care in the world. It was as though they had not suffered any hardship like ourselves, drenched and exhausted after a nine-hour ordeal of alpine drama.

How did they get here? How did they manage to avoid our own encounters with rain, sleet, wind and lightning?

The mystery was slowly revealed. It turns out there is a cable-lift nearby, whisking visitors up into the high mountains as easy as you please.

And when you arrive, no need to carry your own packs as we did. Other beasts will shoulder those heavy burdens for you.

Rila Mountains, Bulgaria, July 2011.

Rolleiflex MX-EVS, Tessar, Ilford HP5.