What a set of mountains, intimidating, extreme and all connected with an accessible and picturesque network of paths. Having been to Poland in 2013, I’d had an experience in Eastern Europe that suggested they are a force to be reckoned with, also their so-called ‘footpaths’ are debatably not, which makes for great, but unexpected challenge.
Arriving in Venice, I awaited my trekking partner Pete, I’ve known Pete since 2008 when I met him whilst working in Oman. I hadn’t trekked with Pete before, but knew it would be a great opportunity to not only walk with him, but also have some great discussions. He is an International Mountain Leader (IML), of which I am in the process of working towards, so also wanted to bend his ear and get some insight and education.
We set off from Venice the next day, and having had a relatively good nights sleep we crammed ourselves in to the trendy Fiat 500. It was a long journey Bohinj Jezero, and we had to get their as early as we could as we still had to walk in to our first hut. We also had to buy a map as well, which we acquired from the tourist information in RibÄev Laz.
We packed our kit out of the back of the car, and got sorted and proceeded keenly on to the trail. We were so happy to be up and going, our natural habitat, the mountains.
We started our way up the mountain, I have to say it could have been an easier start, this was the equivalent of a staircase up the mountain. At about 4pm or so, the mountains revealed it’s loving side, with a splash of rain and a complimentary thunderstorm, which I can’t remember if that was forecast or not. Needless to say when we arrived at Koca Pri Triglavskih Jezerih refuge after our thorough warm up to our trek, I was sodden through to the kecks, with a gait to accommodate said drenching. The refuge was cramped, but warm and accommodating, though we were a little late, we eventually found somewhere to sit at around 7pm I think.
With a good rest we got straight on it the next day, heading to a refuge quite a way off, but was a good day. Pete was brill as well, educating me of the many flora offerings of the valley which included the edelweiss, gÃ©nÃ©pi, monk’s hood and wolfsbane. The valley was unbelievably picturesque and took a few photos more than usual for me. The landscape also changed from a somewhat lush valley in to a lunar landscape on the way to the KoÄa na DoliÄu.
Next day we would be heading up Triglav (2864m), the highest peak in Slovenia, it looked and sounded great, and was I really looking forward to a somewhat technical walk/via ferrata.
The path up to and down from the summit was dubbed a ‘very difficult walking path’ by one source, but is a via ferrata/klettersteig in others. Thankfully we had both, plus Pete’s previous experience. It was a great way to top out a mountain though, with a few people, but not as many as I was expecting. On reaching the summit though it was obvious they were coming up via the other path, which was also via a ‘very difficult walking path’.
Heading down the crowds were a mix of organised, but slow group, experienced trekkers and amateurs hillbaggers. The amateur hillbaggers were pretty reckless and dangerous throughout the ridge, which is severe in nature when it comes to consequences. They were completely ignorant to the others on the mountain with zero etiquette or consideration for others. Two at one point pushed past us and a guided group heading for the summit, a little bit of shame enveloped me when Pete announced ‘I think they’re ours’, i.e. they were British.
We eventually arrived at the humongous refuge that was Triglavski dom na Kredarici. Here we had the opportunity for something truly inspiring in my opinion. Coffee and chocolate. It’s little things like this, which just give you the extra boost in my opinion when on multi-day treks.
We then headed for a restful night at the Dom Valentina StaniÄa pod Triglavom. It was quaint in comparison, but offered great views of the mountain and the severely and irreparably damaged lonesome Triglav Glacier, a mere speck of snow and ice on the mountain now. We headed out for an evening walk for a great sunset view over the national park, I even use that photo in a number of things, including promo videos. It was a great way to finish the day.
The next day was a biggie, following a ridge-line between the refuge and the peak, Rjavina (2532m). The ridge was a brilliant adventure, mixed with ladders, views, exposure and just a great mountain adventure. We returned to a valley floor running parallel to the one we started in and begun our ascent of Rjavina. This felt like a proper via ferrata ascent, and you’ll never know what it was dubbed as in one guide/map? So me and Pete soloed it to the top passing people who thought us slightly nuts.
Reaching the summit of Mala Rjavina (2530m), we have to admit for an additional 2 metres of ascent it would had to be pretty spectacular to make the effort, so we politely declined the offer of Rjavina, and cracked on back towards the start as we had now gone past the main event. Our next refuge held a great view back up the valley towards Triglav, Vodnikov dom na Valley Polju.
The next couple of days we headed back towards the Bohinj Jezero navigating through amazing woodlands, ridges, valleys alpine meadows and alpine pastures. One idyllic location we stopped at included the purchase of much needed coffee with fresh milk and the purchase of a wheel of cheese, whilst experiencing the hospitality of the locals.
I love being in the middle of nowhere, never quite sure what you’ll find round the next corner, if anything at all. You don’t always focus on your map, personally I like to be surprised, and don’t get in to it looking for minute details, which means I might miss some things, but most times out of ten things surprise me.
We stayed at one last refuge for the night prior to heading down by cable car at Vogel to the valley of Bohinjsko Jezero. This was a pleasant experience with much needed treats of being near and in spitting distance of civilisation.
My favourite bit about being back in civilisation is always the opportunity to eat what I want, and more specifically what I fancy. It feels like such a treat, much like the mucky McDonald’s me and Chris sought out in Marrakech, Morocco after 2 weeks in the Atlas Mountains. It’s your body, and you’ve earned your treat having worked hard to do what you set out to do. Pity I don’t have a picture of our food.
I highly recommend Triglav National Park to experienced walkers, ideally with sound experience with Grade I/II scrambling, and the use of via ferrata kit as well, I believe this can be hired in Bohinj. 100% need a helmet, as there are so many people on the mountain, they were kicking all sorts off left, right, centre and downward.