As the very last tourist has left Bled, and this enchanting little town seems almost too big for an occasional jogger or a couple enjoying the promenade around the lake, its nature has never looked more amazing and, best of all, more tranquil. The hazy fog colors light yellow as I drive through the sleepy town, and the forest around the lake looks pleasantly vibrant in the fresh morning sun that manages to peep through the fog. I’m tempted to make a stop to absorb this autumn scene, but the tour I had opted for in the Western Karavanke Mountains would be long and we’d need every minute of the dwindling daylight.
Getting into the mountaineering mode with the Pokljuka’s classics
It seems to me that the mountains are the greatest source of excitement, fun, energy and visual beauty. They are the greatest source of so much in life that makes life worth living. The pulse quickens, the heart pumps, the mind searches for all kinds of excuses—and then, in one impetuous, soul-soaring moment, we say, “I’m going to do this!” And off we go.
As we switch to summer hiking mode and follow the calls of the rugged mountainous world, it’s necessary that we’ve already done our share of physical and mental preparations beforehand. This year, after a few more or less stagnant months due to the coronavirus, when mountains were completely off the chart, preparations for mountaineering seem more important than ever!
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.
Venturing outside at the time of Coronavirus – how to keep yourself and your family entertained
You always hear me talking about our little bubble of paradise here in Slovenia. A place that seems immune to the problems of the rest of the world, a place that attracts friendly people who love the outdoors and the mountains. However, we are facing the exact same problems as the rest of the world. As a mom of two, I’m stuck with homeschooling, tons of cooking and cleaning, and, like all of you parents out there, lack of time for myself. High mountains, via ferratas, and rock climbing are off limits anyway, but, luckily, since a complete lockdown hasn’t started yet, we’re still able to enjoy relaxing time in nature. For now, at least. Therefore, we better make it sweet and worthwhile, right?
Dare I suggest it’s a great time for exploring local intriguing spots in the spirit of simplifying our lives a bit? It has worked for me and my family. We have been tracing beautiful spring flowers in nearby forests, spotting wildlife, searching for beautiful sunset spots, and even finding a massive hidden cave!
Climbing Mt. Stol, the iconic postcard mountain behind Bled
As tourists snap selfies in front of the deep green Alpine lake Bled and take a boat to the little island with a 12th century church, the dramatic backdrop of the snow-capped peaks of the Karavanke Mountains lure the other kind – the adventurers at heart. The highest in the 120-km-long mountain range, which stretches all the way from the border with Italy and Austria, to Croatia, is the outstanding Mount Stol.
Hiking it will serve you idyllic vistas quite different from the sheer walls and rugged landscapes typical of the Triglav National Park. Here you’ll be given incredible views across the valley floor, the Sava River, and Lake Bled, while the top will literally blow your mind away as the landscape suddenly transforms into an Alpine fairy tale with seemingly never-ending white peaks all around.
Hiking in a winter fairy tale above Kranjska Gora: Mt. Cipernik
Serene and tranquil, rising high above Kranjska Gora, this mountain hides under a thick layer of virgin fluffy snow, its top unveiling unspoiled Alpine vistas, never-ending rolling hills, and “the mother of all ski jumping hills” Planica. Yet this lonely 1,745-meter peak is not only a forest hike with only stunning views at the top. Cipernik is adorned with a mysterious “Black cave”, numerous viewpoints, a meadow with a mountain hut, a rock arch formation with a naturally occurring window, and a perfect 6-7-hour round route. Want to hear the crazy part? You can *literally* hike it from the cute little alpine town of Kranjska Gora.
Wishing you all the best in 2020
“This is my life. The path that leads nowhere else but to another path and then again yet to another path. Endless paths. Freedom in its most perfect sense of meaning. I’m destined for freedom, so free that when among people who either love me or hate me, I remain alone. Alone with my wishes, dreams, yearnings, and alone on my endless paths.”
Same as Nejc Zaplotnik, I thrive on freedom too.
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!
Hiking to the dreamy Kriški Podi in the heart of the Triglav National Park
Approximately a half-an-hour drive from Bled, in the very heart of the Triglav National Park, which is at its 838 square kilometers the largest protected area in Slovenia, a plethora of dreamy hiking trails connect valleys with the rugged mountainous world. One of them is a picturesque trail from the Vrata Valley to a high-Alpine plateau set underneath prominent 2.5K peaks. Named after the 2,410-m-tall mountain Križ, the Kriški Podi plateau is home to countless marmots, chamois and Alpine ibexes. Yet that’s not all. The fairytale hike lets you soak up breathtaking views of the highest mountain of Slovenia, Mt. Triglav, and its 3-km wide and 1-km tall Triglav North Face. With sheer rock walls towering all around you and the land so bountiful with wild animals, it feels like being in the middle of remote and dangerous mountains, while in reality it’s the very opposite. The steel cable secures only a couple of more exposed sections on the otherwise technically easy trail, and is as such appropriate for anyone normally fit and with a hearty sense of adventure.