Certain places resonate with us, hikers, in many unique and mysterious ways. Whether I can envision myself exploring one mountain top after another or just falling in love with a particular area, often-times I find myself returning to some spots again and again.
The Upper Soča Valley is definitely one of the corners of Slovenia where I have left bits of my heart.
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).
The past weekend was not about setting speed records. On the contrary, it was about three friends having great fun, sharing intimate stories, laughing to tears about things others might find stupid, and making new memories to laugh about in the years to come. We immersed ourselves in our first hiking adventure together, heading towards places that offer a real feast for the eyes – forests, lakes, wild flowers and fauna.
To be fair, May was not the best month for hiking in terms of good weather. I had so many plans yet realized so few (come check my Facebook for more adventures). Thankfully, sunny and warm June is here, which started off with the bonus that May had left behind – plenty of water and lush vegetation. So, if there’s ever the right time to do the Triglav Lakes trail, then it is definitely now. Hear my story.
On the southern rim of the Kamnik-Savinja Alps, some thirty kilometers north of Slovenia’s boutique capital Ljubljana, lies a large Alpine plateau called Velika Planina. The place is known not only for its unique shepherds’ settlement, arguably the oldest in Europe that remains active to date, but also for organic milk goodies produced every summer. Locals and tourists alike visit it for its long hiking and biking trails, skiing and sledding in winter, good food and friendly people. Every spring, though, something extraordinary happens: as the snow finally melts sometime in April, little crowns of crocuses flood the whole plateau turning a good part of the landscape purple.
The king of the Julian Alps, the highest mountain of Slovenia and an iconic climb for most of the nation, Triglav rules its kingdom of jagged peaks, stunning lakes and deep valleys. Strategically positioned in the heart of Triglav National Park, actually the only national park of Slovenia, its somewhat pointed summit lures the crowds in summer, but the question today is who’s up for the challenge in the snow? Because the reward is simply finger-licking sweet!
Most visitors to Bled, Slovenia’s fairytale location, experience the lake and its enchanting little island from a beautiful walk around it, a boat, or the castle. The more adventurous bunch admire the view of the lake underneath the Alps from a small hill Ojstrica. But how many have you seen it from a hot-air balloon? It’s easily one of the most spectacular and exhilarating things you can do in Bled, so if you haven’t tried it yet, you definitely should!
There’s certain allure of climbing Slovenia’s highest mountain, particularly over its grand Triglav North Face, a 3-km wide and 1-km high vertical face with paint blazes marking only a few of about a hundred, mostly alpine routes to Triglav. Our small group of four ventured out there the last weekend in June only to return with incredible stories to tell and even more amazing pictures to show. If I had to caption our trip in three words, it would be sun, thunderstorms and fun.
But before I tell the story, let Chris take us up Triglav over the Prag Route. Thanks Chris and Miha for helping create this amazing video!
Somewhere far away from the city bustle, nested among towering mountain peaks, an enchanting green meadow stretches speckled with colorful flowers, and right in the middle of a green patch there is a friendly mountain hut. On its sunny terrace in totally relaxed vibes, a bunch of eager mountaineers share their bold climbing stories over barley porridge called ričet and cold beer while soaking in epic views of the Kamnik-Savinja Alps. That’s Kamniško Sedlo.
It’s been a most incredible week but now all that is left are a couple of photos and a big numbing heartache. Arghh. I simply love Lošinj and Cres. I love the lonely beaches, the clearest and bluest waters, dusty paths permeated with the smells of Mediterranean herbs, and the most delicious food. The best part? It’s an outdoor paradise that combines both wild and secluded, as well as comfortable and friendly. As almost a local, I give you my top four trips on these Croatian islands you absolutely shouldn’t miss out if you’re more into wild adventures.