Sometimes a hike is just a hike. Sometimes it’s a portal to another plane of perception. These days, when Covid-19 is firmly setting its ground and has likely affected each and every one of us in one way or another, an escape to the great outdoors has never been more appreciated. We start the car and head towards the odd world without masks and hand sanitisers. Towards the world where panic is replaced by families of serenely grazing chamois, the virtual problems with the tangible ones, and busy streets by sunny little spots with amazing views. A place where we embrace life at its fullest.
Epidemic and lockdown in Slovenia finished: calling for new adventures in the mountains!
Slovenia has formally declared an end of the coronavirus epidemic! We did it guys! Moreover, the borders are reopening and even a 7-day quarantine for EU citizens arrivals has been removed! As of now, our lives are finally returning back to normal. Knocking on wood… Still knocking…
We were all pushed into this practically overnight and boy can I say my sanity would have been long shredded into pieces if it wasn’t for one thing. Nature. Those long hikes in the reawakening nature, which just started to green up after the winter and grow beautiful flowers and blooming trees. And boy, were there many hikes…
A dreamy hike from Pokljuka to Lake Bohinj
I have never seen skies so clear. Blue in their most pristine form. Free of air traffic and relieved of excess pollution. I have never seen or heard nature so pure. Bees and birds buzzing and singing about, the winds moving trees, and all the rest completely silent. I have never seen wild animals so comfortable so close to us. Bears leaving their traces just a couple of hundred meters into the forest, countless deer grazing in the fields, chamois, and even a fox in the field below our house. Completely fear free, it comes to catch mice together with our kitties. It seems nature has found a new balance; so unique it will be hard to give it up once our lives are back to normal…
Below the treeless spine of the Triglav National Park in northwestern Slovenia’s Julian Alps, on the southern rim of a lush spring-fed pasture of Pokljuka – it is here our perfectly isolated mountain home is situated and where my 22-km adventure started in late March. The place is a blend of tall Alpine forests and extensive meadows, in summer sprinkled with cows and sheep, and now with spring flowers popping out of the ground. Just a couple of kilometers northwest the vast plains are replaced by jagged peaks, seemingly tumbling away as if to the very edge of the world.
Colors of the fall above Bohinj: Pokljuka, Triglav Lakes, Vogel
As I drive towards the misty Bohinj Valley, green and lush due to the amounts of rainfall it receives, surrounded by towering mountains, I’m anxious to see how the landscapes have transformed with the change of season. Everything looks brown, red, orange and yellow. Even the road resembles a colorful carpet while a light breeze continues to sweep away the vibrantly colored leaves. But I’m not here for the luring fall colors of the Lake Bohinj. I’m here for the golden larches high above the lake in the otherworldly Triglav National Park.
A glimpse of WWI on a stunning traverse from Bohinj to the Soča
On stunningly beautiful trails above Bohinj, where wild flowers grow in abundance and marmots peek from behind large rocks peppered on Alpine meadows, one may be also taken back to the bloody years of WWI. Numerous deteriorating buildings of the war, remains of walls, an old border line with bunkers, and bombs are dotted all along the rugged mountainous stretch between Bohinj and the Soča Valley.
There we were, on a warm and bright day in late September, wearing our hiking clothes and a backpack with the basics for two days in the mountains, starting out our three-day adventure in the Julian Alps. In the first two days we would hike over 24 kilometers and make 2,050 meters of ascent to reach Mt. Krn, 2,244 m, then descend 1,253 meters down to the Soča Valley and spend the third day hiking and relaxing along the Soča River before driving back to Bled, where we had met earlier that day.
Climbing Triglav in the summer on the favored route
I’ve made it no secret that the Julian Alps are one of my favorite corners of Slovenia. Remote and rugged mountainous landscapes full of pinnacles, huge rocks scattered along open trails, vertical walls and dense forests. I love them. That’s why I was thrilled beyond words to return there in September after a busy summer only to experience the most unforgettable adventures. The three-day traverse from Bohinj to the Soča Valley was simply gorgeous, but the two Triglav climbs definitely packed more adrenaline. Exciting times!
The most scenic tour to Triglav
It’s been 124 years since Jakob Aljaž, a great patriot and a priest, paid one Austro-Hungarian gulden for the top of Slovenia’s highest mountain. The amount of money one could have bought 50 eggs or 10 liters of milk for. His idea was to oppose the prevalent Germanization of the Slovenian people and the mountains in the Austro-Hungarian Empire back then.
Once the top of Slovenia was again Slovenian, he had a 2×1.25 m symbolic tower erected at the top of Triglav on 7 August 1895. In the following years he also mined an almost impassable 30-cm ridge between the peaks of Triglav and Mali Triglav into the nicely wide ridge we know today; besides, he also built the mountain hut Kredarica at 2,515 m and the Aljaž Hut in the Vrata Valley below Triglav. His far-reaching idea was to stimulate more Slovenians to visit the mountains, conquer the very top of Slovenia – the symbol of the Slovenian nation, make new legendary routes, and thus make the mountains Slovenian again.
Our favoured one-day round tour to the Triglav Lakes
I’ve already written about what an amazing country this is, but despite all of its unique qualities, hands down my favorite part of Slovenia is the spectacular mountainous area of the Triglav National Park, the largest protected area in Slovenia covering 838 square kilometers, which encompasses Mt. Triglav and most of the 400 2K+ peaks found in the country. To be honest, the setting with pristine lakes, small streams and towering mountains couldn’t be more beautiful, inspiring or just plain divine. Why would you not hike there?
Encircled by high mountains, this picturesque village offers a plethora of hiking trails: Bohinjska Bistrica
Approximately 75 kilometers from Ljubljana, the country’s capital, on the outer edge of the Triglav National Park, the largest protected area in Slovenia covering 838 square kilometers that encompasses Mt. Triglav and most of the 400 2K+ peaks found in the country, there is a sense of contented isolation. It seems that wherever you turn there are dusty trails that wind through tall forests and eventually end up in the surrounding snow-capped peaks. Bohinjska Bistrica, a settlement of less than 1,800 people, lies cradled among 2,000-meter high towering mountains, making it a perfect holiday destination for everyone in love with hiking; mountaineers, families and complete beginners included.
A surreal via ferrata above Lake Bohinj
As much as I boast about Slovenia’s autumns being amazing for mountaineering, there’s still a tiny corner of my soul that’s always a little disappointed when October starts to roll around. The cold sets in, the fog sits low in the valleys until late morning or even early afternoon, the daylight dwindles, it’s too early to ski and can be too late to get up into high mountains after unexpected early snowfall. Yet the colors autumn brings make my heart sing (remember last year’s Kranjska Gora and Kobarid?). Last week, that autumn heart singing got me wandering around Lake Bohinj, searching for the entrance to its best kept secret to the heavenly views and hell of a climb – a via ferrata called Ožarjeni Kamen (Eng. Sunlit Stone).