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Via Egnatia, Ancient Graves and Guri i Ziblue hikeblue drive

Summary: In the upper Shkumbin valley at a height of 1040 m near the village of Lower Selca no sign points to the monumental row of graves.

Selce e poshtme is possibly the old city of Pelion of Illyrian king Cleitus, who was besieged there by Alexander the Great in 335 BC. The graves are hollowed out in a cliff in abandoned (mined) old quarries.

And then, there might be as many Guri i Zi's (black rocks) in Albania as there are white rocks or red rocks. To our knowledge, this 'black rock' is the highest, topping out at way over 2000 Meter. Guri i Zi is one of the prominent highpoints on the western side of Shkumbin valley. Its striking formation is only recognized from nearby. Views are exceptional, and when the weather is clear, one may have a glimpse of the Ohrid Lake from the summit. Tomorri, Valamares, Mali i Thate and many more peaks can be easily made out.

This trip combines a varied and engaging drive exploring the ancient grave sites, and the villages on the west side of the Shkumbin Valley up to the hikers' trailhead for Guri i Zi. The hike then leads to the summit of Guri i Zi.

The best of a day should be planned.

The Drive: The drive starts near the village of Golik. You may reach this point either coming from Qukes, on a poor dirt road, or more comfortably from Përrenjas, on asphalt. If in doubt how to reach the start of the drive, check out the trail "Pogradec to the Shkumbin Valley".

At waypoint "left to graves", take an asphalt road to the village of Selcë e Poshtëme. When the asphalt stops, continue for a few hundred meter and park as indicated at the waypoint. The graves are a short walk up the hill.

If your destination were the graves and you don't fancy much offroad driving, return from here the way you came. If you prefer to test your nerves, continue the dirt road into down into the valley. If your aim is the trailhead of Guri i Zi and nothing else, you can skip the excursion to the graves (but it would be a pity).

We recommend to drive the subsequent excursion in a clockwise direction. Going south from Proptisht, ignore the first turn to the right (this is where you will return). Take the next obvious road to the right (at waypoint right-3).

At waypoint A, turn left. However, you can shorten the roundtrip by turning right here. The shortcut will get you to waypoint B on the opposite end of the loop.

At waypoint "left to camp", you may turn left to the trailhead for Guri i Zi. This stretch of the road may be very difficult. If you don't plan to hike Guri i Zi, you may ignore this and continue straight to complete the loop back into the Shkumbin Valley. If you plan to hike Guri i Zi, but you felt your car was reaching its limits on the road until here, you may park here and walk this last stretch of the trail to the dam and further on to Guri i Zi.

When continuing the loop, take the left fork at Waypoint B. The right (or rather straight) fork at waypoint B leads you back to waypoint B.

Maximum altitude: 1256 meter
Minimum altitude: 450 meter
Cumulative height: 1271  meter
Cumulative length: 39  kilometer
Difficulty moderate
Time: 7 hours
Date of this record August 2012
Download GPS info: Graves to Guri i Zi

The climb: In the lower reaches, the trail follows old wood roads, some of which are no longer passable to vehicles. Because of the secondary growth (following some heavy logging a few years ago) much of the trail is under the shade of trees, which makes it possible to climb the mountain even during the hot summer months.

The last few hundred altitude meter are over grassy slopes. These provide grazing for sheep, and you may plan your way so as not to come too close to the herd and the sheep dogs.

We also visited the secondary summit.

Maximum altitude: 2071 meter
Minimum altitude: 1255 meter
Cumulative height: 861  meter
Cumulative length: 12.5  kilometer roundtrip
Difficulty moderate
Time: 5 hours roundtrip
Date of this record August 2012
Download GPS info: Guri i Zi

General location and approach: The excursion is in the upper Shkumbin valley, roughly between Gramsh and Lake Ohrid. The best approach on asphalt is from Perrenjas, or from Qukes (north of Librazhd) on dirt road.

Other Information: The area is reasonably well inhabited. There is a lot of logging activity on the mountain, but it seems to take place in an orderly and planned - and hopefully sustainable - fashion.

GPS and trailmaps: The map and trailinformation is generated by www.wikiloc.org, based on GPS information collected from the actual hike. Waypoints can be downloaded to a GPS device from Wikiloc. If necessary, use GPSBabel to convert GPS data to different formats. For more hike descriptions by Palmtreetreeproduction, browse this website or visit Wikiloc and search for "Palmtreeproduction". You may also find nearby trails from other authors.

Google Earth: You may also view the trail in 3D by viewing it directly in Google Earth. You need to have Google Earth installed on your computer. Activate "wikiloc"in the "Gallery" menu in Google earth.