Slovenian and Croatian 9/13/2007-10/7/2007

Steamboat SpringsŕDenverŕ BostonŕMilan, ItŕZabreb, CroatiaŕSamabor, CroatiaŕLjubljana, SloveniaŕBled, SloveniaŕBohjni, SlŕJulian Alps, SLŕBohjni, SlŕIzola, SlŕOpitja, CroatiaŕPlitvice, CrŕStarigrad-Palenica, CrŕZadar, CrŕZagreb/Samabor, CrŕMilanŕBostonŕDenverŕSteamboat Springs


Journal Part IV:

Bohijj, Slovenia 9/19/2007: I love Olga!  Yesterday's rain storm turned out to be historic.  The rain fall was a bigger deal than I realized.  300 liters/m2 (12") fell in 24 hours, making this the largest rain total in the past 1000 years.  As a result things are pretty quiet in Bohinj.  The roads in all directions coming in to the mountains were washed out, although our little oasis was relatively untouched.  No tourists from Ljubljana can get here so we are the only hotel guests.

We were warm, dry and toasty in Bohinj, but the rain caused major road closers of all roads going in and out of the mountains.  We were sitting in our quiet dining area around 9 pm last night when all of the sudden we were invaded by about 40 eleven and twelve year olds. They had been on a school field trip from Ljubljana and got stuck between two rock slides.  The rescuers brought them to our place and it was a hoot.  Their teacher was bringing them pitchers of pivo (beer), but not really, and they were toasting each other and having the time of their life.

Tomorrow we are heading out early for a three day climb of Mount Triglav, the highest peak in Slovenia.  Since I had not walked down hill in four weeks I thought it would be a good idea to test the knee on a warm-up today.  Selected a climb up to Dom Na Kimno, a 2,500 ft climb over about 2.5 km up at least 200 switch backs.  Good warm-up.  Actually the walk went fine and I was thinking ahead enough to have scheduled a massage on our return. 

I arrived at the designated location and met Olga.  The first of our two conversation went exactly like this, "In there, take cloths off now."  The only thing that made me uncomfortable was that her voice was an octave below Hulk Hogan's.  Her resume said she was a communication facilitator for the KGB after she had completed her career on the Yugoslav shot put team.  Our second conversation was when Olga said "You like!?"  I wasn't sure if it was a question or a statement.

Mo had a more involved conversation during her massage.  Olga said "You are in good shape for American".  Mo thought that was accurate, but asked why she thought so.  Olga responded that she watched Ricky Lake and all Americans were fat.

Alls well that ends well and I'm feeling good and my prostate is less congested thanks to Olga.


9/20/2007 Trek Day: Four days ago finally decided to pack up our packs and see if we could get in to the Alps.  Driving west toward Lake Bohinj and our trail head we picked up a young lady hitching toward the lake.  She was pretty pessimistic about being about to get up in to the mountains, much less find intact trails.  As luck would have it she just happened to work at a local sports store and knew a guy who was a mountain guide.  She gave her friend a call from the store and he thought there was a way around the washouts to a trail head a little higher in the mountains. 





Bridge crossing on Lake Bohinj on our way to trail head













On the way to Rudno Plje and trail head to Triglav






The drive was a highlight in it self.  Through small mountain villages with the ubiquitous flower planters overflowing with colorful blooms coming off of every deck and window sill and hay drying over field hangers.  Through dense forest in to open meadows and past pristine farms.  We ended up passing through Rudno Plje, the national nordic combined and cross country training center in Slovenia.  There were more roller skiers on the road than cars.  It reminded me a little of Steamboat, or at least what I wish Steamboat could become.














Typical farm shed

















Found the trail head with relatively little problem.  The sign, as with all trail signs in the mountains, indicated the destination and the time, i.e. “Triglav 6 hours”.  It was 10:00 AM with brilliant sun shine and no schedule to keep so no problem.  We climbed through beech, larch and lodge pole pine (no red/brown beetle kill trees) on a well maintained trail.  After a couple of hours it opened in to a large valley with lime stone dolomite spires standing at attention around the valley. 














Above tree line in to the valley of the spires















We climbed a steep ill defined trail to a gap in a ridge that looked north over a mist filled valley to a snow and ice covered Mount Triglav, the highest point in Slovenia.  All was good except a map reading error had taken us about an hour off course and required a ridge traverse back to the correct pass and trail junction.

















Triglav in the background with our destination hut, Triglavski Dom, visible as a speck on the ridge just right of the high peak.

















From our detour we traversed above the valley to the correct pass.  A little snow on the ground, but no wind and lot of sunshine.












Correcting course across the ridge











We thought we were on our way to a bowel of hot soup and a glass of wine in no time, but after another two hours and many promises of "it's just around the corner", we came around “the corner” and could see the hut of our destination, the Planika Dom...sitting 1,300 ft up on a rocky ridge with a series of about 20 switch backs and snow leading the way. 






Planika Dom





Fake smile on face as I point out our destination hut

















All ready five and half hours in to our trek, Mo was not psyched about the prospect of the climb, but I was not to psyched about the prospect of a five to six hour hike back.  Fate had better things in store and a crisis was averted.  A kilometer ahead was the Vodnikov Dom hut.  Some how had missed this oasis on the map.  We were met by Franscisa, the hut cook, manager, bar tender and cheer leader.  Franscisa, named after the saint, was a leather bound 70 year old German, Slovenian, Austrian madam who smoked, didn’t speak a word of English, but was as friendly and warm as the fairy god mother you always dreamed of .  With in minutes of arrival we had hot barley soup, home made bread and a bottle of wine in front of us and all the struggles of the day were behind.











Vodnikov dom















We shared the hut with a group of Brits, Scots and Irish who had been out for a week already and were in the full party mode.  One Brit from the Lake District in Great Briton was right our of Monte Python and just as funny.  There was a “brain Scientist” and his brain scientist wife who were fine folks, but refused, on principle,  to discuss anything about work or life outside of this trek.  We talked for a few hours and then retired to our room to ready ourselves for the next day.



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