June is the month when the summer hiking season usually starts, since the mountains would have dropped the white blanket by then. This year, however, the never-ending rain and almost daily afternoon thunderstorms have been constantly messing with our hiking plans, and instead made big mountains even less manageable than during the colder months. I have managed, however, to switch my focus to cycling lately and it’s been just as fun.
One of the most memorable trips was a 40 km or 25 miles long tour to Kamniška Bistrica, a glaciated valley at the foothills of the Kamnik – Savinja Alps, which was actually a nice combination of cycling, hiking and – the most adventurous of all - exploring new grounds off the beaten trail. In fact, the tour was so nice, I have done it twice in the last three weeks, both times with my family, who eagerly joined in for the last part - climbing big rocks up a dry mountain torrent Krvavec.
Since the weather forecast for the weekend was a no real surprise after a series of gloomy weekends, cloudy with anticipated afternoon showers and heavy rains starting at noon, I saddled my bike in Ljubljana as early as 8.30 in the morning (that is considered kind of early, no?!) and left for the Kamniška Bistrica. The roads were still very much asleep with only a few fellow cyclists quietly pushing the pedals towards their seeming goal.
I stuck to my regular road crossing colorful countryside, small villages and never-ending green fields. And since wild deer was never too far away from the road, the whole thing felt sort of like a safari on a bike.
Almost two hours and a snack later, I was practically at the end of the cycling part of my trip gradually entering the hiking/exploring part. My first stop was the Predaselj Gorge, a beautiful gorge on the Kamniška Bistrica river that had formed about a kilometer away from the river source. I leaned my bike against a high tree and followed a scenic trail along the gorge to a lookout point. The gorge looked beautiful, stunning even, radiating mystical vibes through its turquoise rapids and a misty veil.
Still overwhelmed by the gorge’s immense beauty, I was curious to see other local landmarks as well and thus turned from the main road to a winding forest path as soon as I stumbled upon a sign directing to “Mali izvirk”. Pretty disappointed at the sight of a practically nonexistent mountain water spring, I decided to venture further into the forest following a narrow path, since returning back to the main road didn’t feel like a real option. I ended up pushing my bike for 500 m through dense thorny shrubs and rocky ground. Yikes!
Catching about a dozen new scratches, I was relieved to be finally out in the clear and a few minutes later I reached the welcoming Kamniška Bistrica lodge. But since my family hadn’t arrived yet, leaving me with some more time to spend before they did, I saddled my bike again and headed further up the gravel road towards the mountains. With my bike parked at the beginning of the trail, set up in memoriam of all the mountaineers who lost their lives in the surrounding mountains, I was off to explore a tempting-looking dry riverbed of a torrent called Krvavec.
I’m pretty sure that everyone, no matter how overprotective their parents, has at least one happy childhood memory tied to climbing small rocks and hopping from one to another like a real live ninja. That happened right there on that dry mountain torrent, completely unknown to the rest of the world. All my childhood ninja memories flashed back as I was making my way up the torrent, throughout enthusiastic and full-heartedly climbing those incredible rocks, which gradually gained size from a few feet to big boulders forming an almost impassable passage. Almost. Once I entered this climbing game, there was no way a few rocks could have stopped me. I suddenly transformed into that daring 9-year old ninja and climbed up exactly anything on my way. At least until I received a call back to reality from my husband saying the three of them were already waiting for me at the lodge.
After lunch and again the next weekend, we returned back there – the four of us – and repeated the ninja training. As expected, the kids loved it.
All in all, the Kamniška Bistrica was a fun day with a lot of reward for minimal work. Not only is it close to the capital Ljubljana but it’s oddly not crowded. It’s suitable for children and a combined biking – hiking tour like mine, plus the lodge will treat you with yummy traditional mountain dishes. It’s definitely worth a visit!
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