There are not many places that I’ve visited in the world that even come close to being as beautiful as my home, Alaska. The Julian Alps in Slovenia, where I have spent the last week hiking and cycling have, however, blown me away. The geology is intense – towering limestone walls, jagged peaks, beautiful and diverse rock formations, huge boulders, rocky “moonscapes,” high alpine meadows and lakes, and the Slovene mountain culture only adds to it (until I hit the super populated trails and I miss my turn because I’m speed hiking to pass the multiple groups of amblers in front of me). These iPhone pictures do no justice for this region, but I have to share at least a glimpse of this heavenly realm.
My second day hiking out of Bohinj and the first day of my 4 day hut to hut trip. Approaching Rodica, my first peak. The day before, after getting a late start, hiking up and down 1000 meters, racing sunset, reinjuring my bad knee while running downhill (which is how I injured it in the first place almost exactly 10 years ago while running down from Half Dome in Yosemite) and not having hiked for months, I was soooo sore this day. More so than at any point on my entire tour thus far.
My first hut. Mid-moutain on Vogel Ski Resort. I was the only person staying there and Renata and Andrea who run the place were so fun and amazing. We drank Radlers (orange Fanta and beer – so good. Way better than any Brass Monkey!), talked about life and men and I slept in the very comfy, pine wood-paneled pull-down stairs attic! I was sad to leave my new friends in the morning, but my legs, even more sore after hiking 9 hours the day before (I got a little lost), were ready to get moving!
A day later… I met a great Austrilian couple, Gemma and Ryan, who have hiked nearly all of The Alps, starting in France. They took this pic. We had a long, leisurely lunch at this crystal clear alpine lake. A fun, easy and gorgeous day of hiking. Almost no downhills – a welcome break for my knee!
I took a little evening stroll to a grassy perch, stretched, ate some GORP, took a nap. On my way back I took this, looking up at the hut from the trail approaching from Trenta, the next valley over from Bohinj.
The goofball Aussies – Gemma and Ryan. Second peak bagged! On top of Kanjovec. I was planning to climb Triglav (in the background), Slovenia’s highest peak, but, being a sunny Saturday in September, everyone in Slovenia was thinking the same thing. I opted for the quieter option. Of course when we got to the summit there was a group of about 15 teenagers up there too! Oh well! They left and we lingered for a while before heading down the opposite side of the mountain from which we came up. The trail system is incredible here. Many peaks can be summitted and descended from multiple angles on established routes!
Sebastijan, my totally awesome host in Bohinj. We went out to a leisurely Sunday lunch. House red wine and Coke! Yes that’s right. You mix them, and it’s delicious. I had a big salad as I hadn’t eaten fresh greens for days and strukjle – a sweet, or in this case, savory rolled pastry that’s boiled instead of baked. Slovenian food may not be much to look at, but it is really good. Hearty and simple.
Kremšnita and a latte. The super beautiful and now ruined by tourism lake town of Bled is famous for this dessert. I had to try it. Normally anything creamy and/or cakey is an absolute no for me, but this was really, really good. Light and not too sweet.
I took an unanticipated detour up the Vrata valley on my way to Kranjska Gora. Sebastijan had mentioned it was beautiful and the idea of accessing the mountains that I’d seen in the distance from my previous days’ hikes sounded great. Looking at the map, there were a couple steep sections riding up to the hut where I stayed at the end of the valley. According to the key this means more than a 10% grade and hairpin turns. No bigs! When I saw a sign warning of a 25% grade up ahead I cracked up laughing. I had just eaten a big lunch and that extra piece of bread with Zaska was threatening to come up if I pushed it. I walked my bike part of the way, which I loathe to do. This is looking northwest from the top of Bovški Gamsovec Peak.
Yesterday the weather report was calling for thunder and lightening storms in the afternoon. I bagged any idea of hiking and woke up early to ride up the 24 hairpin turns from Kranjska Gora to Vršič Pass. I nearly froze riding back down and spent the rest of the day hunkered down in my small, private room in my super cheap hostel. A relaxing day and a welcome break. Vacay from a vacay!
I woke up this morning to pouring rain, snow in the hills, and a wicked sore left hip that has been giving me trouble for a few days but seems to be worse today. After hours of debating on staying here yet another night or headimg over the border into Austria as planned, I thought, what would mom and dad say? Duh – they’d say take it easy and don’t push it! So here I am, still in Slovenia, and it’s still cold and rainy outside. I went to the pharmacy, bought some topical muscle relaxer, Slovenian ibuprofen, and went grocery shopping. This is my food – and wine – for the next day and a half. The loaf of bread was day old 50% off so I splurged and got cambozola which I haven’t had since leaving AK. Lunch time!