Bled Lake

A sunny beach somewhere in South America, a snowy peak in the Alps, Taj Mahal and the list can go on. A list with destinations we hope to go one day. But when that list gets bigger and bigger some never seem to reach the top for various reasons. Visiting Slovenia was among the top three for a few years now it just never got to be the number one priority. Flights are expensive and public transport is time consuming if you want to travel inside the country. In 2017 the battle was between going to hike Alta Via 2, in Iceland or in Triglav National Park. Having ruled out Iceland due to high costs and a mandatory van rental to stick with the planned itinerary I was more inclined to go to Italy as a budget option but having been there a few times already Cosmin managed to persuade me to give up the idea. It seemed like finally we were going to break the ice.

 

The Planning:

The planning took quite a few weeks as I wanted to make my own itinerary – visit Ljubljana – Bled and spend about 10 days of hiking in the national park. The idea was to include as many peaks and via-ferrata routes as possible in a circuit around Triglav. My main source of information was the Cicerone guide “The Julian Alps of Slovenia“. I found most of the planned route among the described stages and was able to put everything head to head. With some extra information from the internet I was able to estimate the times and length for each day and where to stop for lunch and sleep. Hiking in Triglav National Park was finally becoming reality.

The flights weren’t easy to book as prices are quite high in the summer and we didn’t want to blow half of our budget here. I decided to fly to Trieste and from there by bus to Ljubljana rather than a direct light. With the same budget I was going to spend 2 extra days in the city and visit a location that I have never thought of going to. The departure took place from Stansted airport and reached the destination in just over 2 hours. On return I managed to find a flight from Ljubljana to Heathrow.

From Trieste there is a direct coach to Ljubljana. Make sure you book in advance and even so it is not guaranteed the bus will be there in time. I used OnBus as the only option available that morning. All stop at the main station next to the train terminal. If you plan to continue to Bled or other resort then one must buy a ticket for the connection coach.

The hardest part wasn’t booking the transport but making reservations in the huts. Some of the keepers don’t speak English and online booking is not a thing there. With a bit of research you can find all the phone numbers on various websites. ( www.pzs.si was the one with the most information. Just use google translate). Some of the huts were full so it’s good to call a few weeks in advance. As usual, I use bookings.com for all my hotel reservations and was surprised find listed properties from Kranjska Gora and Stara Fuzina.

Apart from planing the actual route, I was going to spend 2 days in Trieste and 3 more in Ljubljana and I never go without a daily plan. I use the premium version of Sygic travel on my phone which makes things much easier. I wrote a separate review for each of them.

Food is always a priority for me and usually I lose quite a bit of weight on a long distance hike so this time it was mandatory that I boost my calories intake. Slovenia is relatively cheap when compared to France or Switzerland so it makes sens to eat at the huts and try local dishes. Which by the way are delicious but more about this later. I gave up the idea of having shakes due to being too heavy but opted for Cliff bars and almonds. A pack of dehydrated food as my daily dinner completed the list. Everything else was to be fresh food from supermarkets.

 

Equipment:

It’s always hard to decide what clothing to take with me. I don’t want to carry too much weight and usually the food and water sums up to over 7kg. I don’t wear the same T-shirt more than 2 days so I make sure to have enough with me. In the Alps, access to the valley means the possibility to do laundry but this time our only day down the mountain was in Stara Fuzina. Waterproofs are mandatory and so is a good pair of boots. The rest is personal preference. Just keep in mind that a cheap waterproof will perform poorly. My jacket is GoreTex but the pants are PU coated as I rarely use them. Breathability is zero and even with the side vents I was sweating like I was in hell. This was their last trip!

I have used a pair of Scarpa Marmolada Pro which I bought 2 days before the trip. All my previous hiking boots have been Scarpa and while have been very comfortable and stood up to the challenge, the sole got completely trashed and were returned to the manufacturer. The terrain is very rocky and rough but at £230 should do better than 250 miles. Two pairs of long sofshell trousers, three t-shirts and a long sleeve. Six pairs of socks and underwear, a fleece and a softshell jacket. A buff and a beanie for the colder days and a sun cap. Never leave without a sleeping bag liner as sleeping in a hut is not quite the same as sleeping in a hotel. A travel towel and flip flops complete the list. Some people prefer sandals but they are too heavy and I am not a fan of them anyway.

When you think the pack is almost done is time to add accessories. And most often weight as much as the clothes if not more. Never leave without hiking poles. It helps a lot of pressure of your knees when you run with a heavy pack down the mountain. Toiletries and a first aid kit (please make your own don’t buy a pre-made one). Sunglasses and sun cream. Headtorch with spare batteries, camera – Nikon P340 and chargers. A power bank – I personally use Anker. An extra charger this time for a new addition – a GPS Suunto watch. Everything adds weight and suddenly those 7kg are now 13. And the list hasn’t finished yet. An ultralight pack from Osprey for day trips/walking around the city. Cooking set – Swiss Army multi tool, titanium spork, Primus Eta Express stove ( now replaced with a MSR WindBoiler) and a 1L Nalgene bottle. Ultimately some extra rain protection – dry bags to organise clothing and keep them dry and a rain cover. It might seem like extra weight but I prefer to keep my stuff dry.

This trip however we had some extra kg. While helmet is a must for via-ferrata to prevent head injuries from falling rocks, the kit was not necessary at all. That will depend on your experience level and the difficulty of the route. I did not use it at all and was pleased with my decision of taking just 2 slings with carabiners. Worked well as a dry line. Never use this to replace the kit! There is no shock absorption and in case of a fall it will most probably break. My intention was only to anchor myself in case I get tired on a harder section. The harness was dead weigh – 400g. Gloves came in handy in keeping the skin on my hands. Metal wires are sharp and rock very abrasive.

Everything packed in my old 50L Solitare Scout (Made in Romania). With the everyday food and water and gas, all came to about 17kg. Quite heavy to carry through the mountains, at times on vertical via-ferrata routes.

 

Expenses:

Huts – prices are usually around 20€ + another 12-20€ for the half board. Some of them accept mountain club cards and offer discounts.

Supermarkets – groceries are relatively cheap compared to western Europe. Breakfast for 2-3 days, bread, water and beer usually would be 10-15€

Restaurants – you should expect to pay 6-9€ for a soup and around 15€ for main course. A beer it’s anywhere between 3 to 5€ and dessert around 4€.

Transport – Slovenia doesn’t have the best infrastructure but local buses are reliable even though rare. It’s a cheap way of transport and we didn’t have any problems getting around the national park.

 

The Trip:

Day 1: Trieste – Ljubljana – Bled

Ljubljana central stationAs previously mentioned, I flew to Trieste and you can find more details in article I wrote about my time there. After 2 nights spent there it was time to meet with Cosmin and start our hiking. The only morning option was Onbus. I do not recommend it unless there is no other choice for that day. The fare is €10 for one way and journey takes a few hours with at least a stop after the border. This can vary depending what shuttle company you take. My coach had 20 minutes delay and even after calling customer service I was still uncertain whether my plans will be ruined or not. The stop is just in from of the bus station but there are no signs. It finally showed up and drama ended. The road to Ljubljana takes you through scenic countryside landscape. One advantage of waking up very early is the chance to witness an amazing sunrise over the hills and morning mist. After almost 2 hours the bus arrived at the main central station in Slovenia’s capital. The ticket office is outside the main building. After greeting Cosmin who was already there the hunger forced me to have a takeaway from McDonald’s as there wasn’t time for a proper breakfast. Needless to say I came to regret my decision later on. The connection to Bled was departing very soon and we didn’t have much time on our hands. Ticket price is about 7.8€ one way and duration can vary from 40 minutes to 2 hours depending on the time of the day and the route taken. We arrived at the bus station just after 9 a.m. and went on our way to check in.

Nature Hotel LukancCosmin chose a hostel, but had the advantage of being in the town, close to the lake and main hiking paths. I chose more comfort but everything is pretty expensive in Bled. My accommodation was outside the village and I only realised how far it actually is when I got there. Nature Hotel Lukanc it’s a beautiful privately own property in the middle of the nature. Surrounded by forest, it is situated at the end of Selo Pri Bledu at about 30 minutes walk from the lake. There is a bus in Mlino at the main road but only every hour and is not worth waiting for it. At 50€/night it was one of the cheapest hotels I could find.

After checking in I rejoined Cosmin and started our search for a restaurant to try the local cuisine. We stopped at Gostilna Pri Planincu after reading some reviews on Tripadvisor. The service and atmosphere were great and the food… from heaven. Delicious soup and the Granja Klobasa sausage with sour sauerkraut and horseradish just perfect with a local beer. Prices are more than reasonable and everything was just under 15€. For desert we stopped at Confectionery Zima to try some local cakes. Everything is between 2 – 4€.

Vintgar GorgeThere was no time to be lost and with full bellies we head out of the village to visit the Vintgar Gorge. Following the river Radovna and within walking distance from the village it is a must if you are in the area. Apart from the interesting geological rock formations it also offers excellent views of the Slovenian countryside. If you don’t want to walk the 4 km road then you can jump in one of the many mini buses going there for a small fee. However I strongly recommend you to enjoy the nature and views. From the main bus station one has to follow the way to Grajska Cesta and after a few turns and a junction you find yourself heading to Hom, the highest peak in the area. There are a few signs here and there so it shouldn’t be that hard. I recommend going clockwise to enjoy a cold beer and the views of the valley on the way back. There is a 5€ fee at the entrance and sometimes might be a bit crowded so watch your footsteps. If you go by car, there is a parking lot just before the entrance. The route follows the wooden bridges along the gorge walls and opens at the end as you reach the Sum waterfall. Follow the signs through the wood and after 1km reach a small medieval church of Sveta Katerina. On the other side there is a cafe. Stop for a cold beer and enjoy the views. Take the tarmac road downhill to the village of  Zasip and join the main road that will take you back to Bled. The tour takes about 4 hours at an easy pace.

Bled lakeBack at the lake, it was only 3 p.m. so we decided to go wander around. One of the paths take you to the castle, which for 10euro we thought is not worth going in. Apart from the view is nothing else to see. The actual building is a ruin nowadays and only the court can be visited. If you have a drone, then go in and get that perfect shot! Coming back down one can visit the Chapel and continue along the lake. The island in the middle can be visited by taking a boat with one of the locals for 35euro/hour. The afternoon was spent by the lake.

We stocked up with supplies from the village supermarket, just a few minutes up the road from the castle. If you have more time on your hand I strongly recommend going on top of Osojnica to the famous bench for the perfect postcard with Bled Lake.

 

Day 2: Bled – Kranjska Gora – Koča v Krnici – Lipnica (2417m) – Spik(2472m) – Koča v Krnici

Next day we were set to leave very early as a long day laid ahead of us. After catching the first bus to Kransjka Gora (for 4.6€) we arrived in the centre of the town just after the sunrise. It is only now that the real journey has begun. From the bus stop the trail heads up to the mountains and we weren’t going drop back into the next valley until 6 days later. Full of supplies the pack felt heavy but both of us were quite excited.

Dry river bedWe follow the road to Vrsic pass and cut across the parking lot by Jasna Jezero lake to the right to rejoin the road later on. When arriving to the bridge over Pisnica river we take the path on the left and follow the river bed south until a sign marks the way to Koka v Krnici. The hike is easy and in half an hour we get to a junction that marks the way to Spik, painted with red on a boulder. We plan to stop at the hut first and continue straight to reach two metal poles from an old gate. Crossing a wide dry watercourse and keeping the main path takes us to another sign for the hut. The weather is good but clouds start to form and we only stop for a sip of water. A few more turns and soon get to another junction. Here both of the trails go into the forest but reach the same destination in less than half an hour – the hut.

 

Koca v Krnici it’s an old wooden hut situated at the foot of Spik. The keeper is not very friendly and knows little to no English. We made a booking in advance by emailing him and paying a 40€ deposit for 2 beds. Strangely enough he did not accept my BMC but my friend with AAC received a discount. The beds were not comfortable and strange noises from he attic kept me awake all night. Everything is quite old and could do with a bit of cleaning.

Koca v Krnici

There is a tap at the hut but marked as “non drinkable” even though it comes from the mountain. We took the risk as it didn’t make sens to buy water in the mountains. There is a 1.2€ “city” tax and the lunch is 8€ which we were happy to skip after seeing the hut condition. Toilets are indoor and there’s no shower.

From the hut a small plaque marks 4H to Spik. After checking in we rushed to reach the top following the well marked path at first through the forest and after on a loose rocky face to reach alpine ground. We were hiking for almost two hours when the clouds closed in and it started to rain. Sadly soon we got covered in clouds and the poor visibility forced us to stop. After a quick snack and some photos the decision to turn back was taken. There was no point to continue on slippery rock just to make the summit without any views. Returned to the valley we contemplated over dinner and felt sad to start the hike by missing two summits. It rained all afternoon and night.

 

Day 3 : Koča v Krnici – Dolkova Spika (2591m) – Bivak IV –  Aljazev Dom

One always hopes to wake up and see the first rays of sun but this time the luck wasn’t on our side. It was still raining. After quickly packing and having breakfast, armed with waterproofs, we continued our hike to the next stop. It was going to be a long and wet day which included climbing the second highest peak in Slovenia.

Krisca Stena via ferrataFrom the hut follow the path marked “Kriz 4H” that ascends through the forest to reach a junction just after a few minutes. Take the left path to reach a wide dry watercourse and cross it by following the right flank to reach the way-marks. Continue through dwarf pine and cross another river bed by a large boulder. The places starts to open and after crossing a few more water courses you find yourself above the forest line. By the time we got there the rain had stopped. Clouds were still covering the valley and it wasn’t much of a view. Soaking wet, more from seat rather than rain, we continued on a rocky path for another 30 minutes to reach an area with big boulders. After ascending on steep scree we found ourselves in front on the Krisca Stena face.

 

Looking up on the left, a red dot marks the start of the via-ferrata that takes you to the top. It is not hard but quite dangerous due to rockfall. The face is crumbly and now wet and slippery after so much rain. We kept the harnesses packed but put on the helmets and start climbing. At first on easier ground to the left and after to the right following the iron pegs on a steeper ground. The rock is quite unstable and I we were happy to be the only ones to climb. It takes about an hour to reach the top. If not confident enough, I do recommend using the via-ferrata kit for the second part. Once at the top, one can turn right to the summit of Kriz. We stuck to the plan and start descending to the left on limestone past a sign on a rock that says “Vrata and Skrlatica”. Shortly at a junction, the right path goes down to Vrata. You can also use it as a shortcut to Aljazev Dom via Bivak IV. We take the left path to Dovski Gamsovec. To reach the summit, bear right from the main track from a small col, just before descending through a gully. It’s a 15 minutes scramble on a rocky ridge. While Cosmin decided to rest I was lucky enough to run to the top and get a glimpse of Triglav and Skrlatica through the clouds. SkrlaticaExcited to have climbed the first peak on our list, I realised the bad weather slowed us down and it was getting too late. It was no time to waste. Back at the track we descent on a very steep and slippery rock protected with iron pegs followed by an even steeper red clay slope. The angle eventually eases and I feel a void in my stomach as we pass by the start of via-ferrata on Skrlatica which by now it was covered in clouds. With the risk of reaching the next hut in the dark I still wanted to climb it but couldn’t convince Cosmin it’s worth the risk and we descended. I suppose there’s a reason to go back one day. Once again the bad weather ruined our plans but it’s not much to do but continue. We keep the path marked “Vrata” and soon the terrain opens and green pastures dominate the horizon. As we get out of the clouds Bivak IV shows itself at a junction. A metal refuge with a few beds for the hiker in need. Take left to reach lower ground and break through dwarf pine and rocky terrain. Landscape changes and we are now in a dense forest. We follow the signs and arrive at Aljazev Dom. The start point of the main routes to the highest peak in Slovenia. The hut is packed with hikers all over the world and reservation is required in high season. We paid at the gift shop 27€/night and checked in at the first floor in a three bed room. There is electricity and most importantly hot shower at 1€/5 minutes.

There wasn’t much planning to do as we both agreed to take the hardest route to the top. After enjoying a delicious dinner, cold beer and a well deserved shower we settled in for the night.

 

Day 4: Aljazev Dom – Tominskova Pot – Triglavski dom na Kredarici – Triglav ( 2846m )

The noise woke me up quite early but I felt well rested. I wasn’t ready to leave the comfort of the bed just yet although the hunger settled in quickly and in no time I was up and ready for breakfast. It was a beautiful sunny day and even though the route was relatively short, it was strenuous and our packs heavy, so we left early.

From the hut a broad track takes you closer to he big walls of Triglav and Stena. In a few hundred meter an imposing memorial to alpinists in the shape of a piton and karabiner marks the two routes up the rocky face. If you choose the easier one, with just a few short via-ferrata sections then continue straight for Prag route. As previously mentioned we decided to have a bit more fun and go for the option with more climbing rather than hiking. Turn sharp left at the memorial and cross the river bed into the woods and to the start of Tominskova Pot. At first we follow the narrow but well marked way slowly gaining altitude but is not too long until the ground becomes steep and rocky. It is about an hour of climbing through different levels of vegetation until we reach dwarf pines. By now we have already gained a good amount of altitude and we can see Luknja pass and the valley bottom. The scrambling continues and it’s not long until we are spoiled with the North face of Triglav. It is only from now on that the serious climb begins. The way up is well signed and metal pegs and wires are placed on harder and exposed sections. In wet and foggy conditions extra care is required. A helmet is mandatory as rock falls can be a real danger when the route is crowded. The were only a few climbers ahead of us and we felt safe most of the route. While I did have a harness, the via-ferrata kit was left home and the only thing I carried was a sling and a karabiner as an emergency. In the end it turned out to be just dead weight. If you don’t have any climbing experience I strongly recommend the full kit.

The views are hard to describe in words and the scramble is a delight. Steep sections, traverses, high exposure and a good amount of physical effort made it one of the best so far. After just over three hours and a half from our departure we reach a junction where we join the Prag route. From here on the route continues on loose scree slope. There should have been a stream with fresh water but it was bone dry and we were happy to carry extra from the valley. Continue on limestone and over rock steps and crevasses. Triglavski dom na KredariciIt is not unusual to see Ibex and snow can be present after a heavier winter. Making our way to the right, the last section it’s a short scramble protected with pegs. It started raining and we run to seek shelter into the hut.

Triglavski dom na Kredarici it’s full of life and people from all over the world. The food is good, beer cold and accordion live music fills the dining room. It’s almost impossible not to make friends and join the singing crowd. The queue is long, very long at the check in, so make sure you book in advance unless you want to sleep on the floor. Even though the hut is big, it was full when we went. Bunk beds in shared rooms with other 15-20 hikers so make sure you bring ear plugs. Blankets are provided but at night it gets cold. A table and a few chairs and amazing views through the windows. In the evenings the party goes on till midnight.

While we filled our bellies and settled in the sky cleared and, together with a German hiker we met at lunch, we decided to go for the summit of Triglav. From the hut we descent to the foot of the rocky north-east face of Mali Triglav.

Triglav summit ridge

The waymark points up and start to ascend on steep polished well protected with metal pegs and steel cables. At times queues can form. Using a via-ferrata kit makes you slower but safer, so use it if you are not an experienced climber. Helmet is not necessary but always recommended.

Continue on the ridge to the memorial plaque and the summit where the route from Dom Planika comes up. From here short scrambling brings you to the main ridge and after an exposed passage the highest point of Slovenia reveals itself. Overall just a little over one hour. Spectacular 360 degree views of the Julian Alps. On a clear day one can see all the way into Austria and the summit of Grossglockner. From the top, we retraced or steps to the hut, but one can continue its journey by taking a different route down to the valley.

 

Day 5: Triglavski dom na Kredarici – Planika Dom – Konjski preval(2020m) – Vodnikov Dom – Mostniski Waterfall – Koca na Vojah – Stara Fuzina

Too much wine after beer it never ends good. Especially when you are tired. I didn’t get tipsy but waking up the next morning wasn’t easy. We planned to go back to the summit for the sunrise but it was cloudy and windy and with a long day ahead going around seemed more reasonable. After all we had to descent over 2000m into the valley. From the hut, take the path marked Planika Dom with Triglav on your right. It’s about 45 minutes on loose scree with a short exposed section secured with steel cables. We stopped at the hut for a coffee and breakfast. From here, take right for Koca na Dolicu. The left takes you to Vodnikov dom in just over an hour, and that’s where we went. Vodnikov domThe path zig zags down the mountain on stony ground to reach a junction. Bear left and continue on the path over hard terrain. Soon after descending a gully secured with a hand rail you should see the hut. Don’t forget to look behind for spectacular views of Triglav. There is a pipe with drinking water and one can stop for lunch at Vodnikov. After a short rest we continue and reach a crossroad. We head down on a narrow path, not visible at first as it’s covered with vegetation, through pine forest. At another junction keep straight. The terrain changes from muddy to rocky and in about 3h and 30m from Vodnikov a sign directs us to Mostniski Slap (waterfall). Cross the bridge and turn left for another 350m. It’s not very high but worth a few minutes detour. Retrace your steps to the main path and take the direction of Stara Fuzina marked 1h. As soon as we leave the forest, beautiful countryside with green pastures and rural houses make a pretty good view. We pass by Koca na Vojah and continue through beech woods with the river on our left. The track soon brings us to Hudicev most (Devil’s bridge) Shortly we see the parking lot and the Bohinj lake. Join the main road and continue to the village.

Stara FuzinaStara Fuzina – a small village, not far away from the lake with a handful of hotels, traditional houses, a couple of restaurants and a supermarket. Good enough to recharge our batteries. We spent a night and half of the next day and definitely enjoyed it. Apart from the hotels there are small “Pension” administrated by locals. A cheaper and much better option I dare to say. For 60€ we had a studio just a few minutes away from the main road. The fully equipped kitchen allowed us to stock up with supplies and be ready for the next day as well as cook. We also washed most of our clothes and dried them in the backyard. As mentioned there is a supermarket and one can find pretty much anything from food to toiletries. If you plan to eat out, there isn’t much choice around. If you have a car then go to the lake as there are more options. Otherwise avoid Gostilna Mihovc. Despite the reviews being ok, the service and food was not. Waiters don’t speak much English, tables are dirty and single tourists ignored. The menu is limited and prices quite high for the location. I waited a long time to be served, the soup was just fine but the Schnitzel mediocre. Soggy and not tender at all. The portion was big though and I had to take away half of it. There were flies everywhere and struggled to keep them away from my food. The nights are quiet and we finally got to enjoy the comfort of a hot shower and private room.

 

Day 6: Stara Fuzina – Pec – Ribcev Laz – Lake Bohinj – Ukanc – Dom Savica – Slap Savica

Hudicev mostFull of energy we decided to prolong our stay in Stara Fuzina and take the short hike up Pec for that perfect postcard photo with Bohinj lake. Rudnica is another option with a higher summit but requires a few good hours, time we didn’t have.

From the village bridge it takes about 30-40 minutes to reach the famous bench on Pec but the path is not marked. Pass by “Cobe Rooms” and take the first right to exit the village. Soon after bear right again on a bike trail and continue with the river on your right for another 10 minutes till you reach a cross road. Make left and soon, cross a lay by and start ascending on the rocky path that looks like an old river bed. At first on easy ground but as you gain altitude it becomes steeper. Keep the visible path to reach a clearing when a sign point the direction to “Rudnica”. Ignore it and stay on the wider path back into the forest. In a few more minutes this disappears completely but do not be afraid as you are not lost. Continue slightly to the left and you will find the wooden bench and amazing views with the lake and surrounding mountains. To go back, just retrace your steps.

After this small detour we collected our packs and started the second part of our trip. From the village we follow the main road to reach Lake Bohinj in about 15 minutes. The bridge at Ribcev Laz and the Church of St John the Baptist are an obvious draw for the visitors. Here you can take either of the lake banks. We preferred more shadow and turned right on the path just before the bridge. It’s an easy walk on almost flat terrain. There are benches and a few public toilets and a few small beaches. We stopped for lunch and a quick dip in the crystal clear water. After 1h and 30m we arrive in Ukanc. Joining the main road and then following the signs to “Slap Savica” will put you on the right path. For the next hour we continue on an unpaved road, trying to avoid cars and stay away from the dust clouds. There is a water source at half way. A big new building rises through the forest and we are excited to check in. To our disappointment it was a private hotel named Dom Savica ( hence the confusion) and not the hut and we return to the building we initially thought to be a storage. After all we don’t need a fancy accommodation and collected our booking at Koca pri Savici.

Slap Savica

At the reception, the staff doesn’t speak English very well and the keeper is not very nice and pressured us to buy food and drinks. We politely refused and went to our rooms. A sort of bunker with 6 beds, poor light and heavy smell. The hut has a public toiled and bathroom with hot shower which is nice. We managed to wash some of our clothes and let them dry on the line. With so many tourists in the area I recommend guarding them. There is also a tap and place for cooking outside if you have a stove. At 10€/night conditions are not that bad.

Soon after checking in we decided to visit Slap Savica, which is situated just a few minutes away from the hut. There is a 3€ entrance fee and I was on my own as Cosmin decided not to pay it. A stone stair path runs up the mountain to bring you to the actual waterfall. Nothing spectacular, but for such a small fee I’d recommend it as a once in a life time. Nice views over the valley and Bohinj lake can be enjoyed.

 

Day 7: Koca pri Savici – Dom na Komni –  Koca pod Bogatinom – Bogatin (1977m)
– Mahavscek (2008m)  – RETURN

Early morning we are woken up by the sunlight. It’s a beautiful day again and we have plans to hike in the land of Zlatorog, the golden-horned ibex that used to guard these lands in the past. After breakfast, we pay for the next night but the staff informs us that we will be moved in another room as a bigger group has reserved the smaller one. With no other choice, we comply and move our bags in a army style room with over 20 beds. It stinks and it’s hot. We open the windows and leave hoping our stuff will still be there in the evening.

Vratca SaddleFrom the hut, follow the road to the waterfall. Here a narrow path going into the forest marks 2h 30min to “Dom na Komni“. Shortly it joins a wider stony path that zig zags its way up through beech woods. Easy, but long. Before reaching the hut, the landscape changes and the forest makes way to dwarf pine now. The open landscape allows us to see the peaks on our left and parts of the trail far ahead. The old cable car can be seen as well, but now it is only used to carry supplies on the mountain. At a junction, take right to “Bogatinov”. The left path takes you to Dom na Komni, by which we will return. Shortly after we arrive at the hut, but continue on the clearly visible path that once was used by the military. It only takes 1 hour to reach the Vratca Saddle. Here we stop to cook lunch and enjoy views on both sides. We are joined by a couple that came from the other side. We are the only ones on the mountain.

To reach Bogatin, one has to climb steeply on the ridge. The rocks are loose and requires some effort but soon the path levels and we enjoy the views. The final step it’s a 40m on the narrow ridge with drops on both sides. We reach the summit in just under 15 minutes, half of what the sign said. After a few photos we continue to Mahavscek. The two peaks are joined by a small col. The descent it’s rough on steep terrain and loose rocks. And then again rises steeply to gain altitude to the next summit. The traverse takes about half an hour at a normal pace, but we’re all about speed and reached the top in no time. It is only here that we could see deep into Tolminka valley. This is an excellent 360 degree view point. There are several peaks joined together in the same  way and one can return to the valley by keeping the ridge. Sadly it’s too late and we estimate and extra 4 hours just to reach the forest line. This without taking in account that some might be accessible or could require rock climbing and we give up.

Bogatin and MahavscekAfter spending a good hour on the top, we return by taking the lower path directly to the saddle and avoiding another ascent on Bogatin. From here it’s a race to the hut but not without incidents. Cosmin gets a mouthful of sand after the boots fail to grip on the rocks. With just a bruise we now stop at Koca pod Bogatinom. A lovely hut surrounded by rocky peaks and green forest and guarded by a massive but friendly dog. I am craving for a grilled sausage with sauerkraut  and so is the local dog who is now my best friend hoping to get a piece. The food is delicious and so is the cold beer after. I pay the 11€ bill and head downhill, this time via Dom na Komni for a different scenery. As we reach the forest line I feel full of energy and start running. The more I ran, the more I wanted to see how fast I can reach the valley floor and ignored the path dashing through the trees in straight line. But there is a limit of how fast you can go with B1 boots and only managed a 40 minutes to the hut. To reward myself I’ve bough some smoked cheese from a local vendor – Bohinjski Sir. It’s so good that I wished I had bough more. We’ve spent the evening outside the hut, planing the next days.

 

Day 8: Koca pri Savici – Koca Pri Triglavskih jezerih – 7 Lakes – Zasavska koca na Prehodavcih

The new day brings with it a very long hike to the next hut. Without wasting any time we pack our packs, still heavy with supplies, and off we go. We’re again lucky with the forecast which seems to be making up for the poor start.

Jezero v LedviciFrom the car park a sign directs us over the bridge to “Crno jezero”, the first lake out of seven – 1h 45min. 100m after the bridge we turn left into the beech forest on a poor muddy track and start gaining altitude. We ignore the path that leads to the waterfall and in lest then half an hour we reach the rock wall. A series of ledges, at times protected with iron pegs brings us to the top. It’s hard work but the views are breathtaking. The lake, the hut and all the valley at your feet. A few photos and the journey continues. The path enters the forest and shortly we reach the Crno jezero. A small detour will bring you to the shore if you wish to go for a swim. Another sign points out the direction to the next hut and the time – 1h30min. Continue above right hand side of the lake slowly gaining altitude and at the junction keep straight. Now on a rocky path the landscape changes from dwarf pine to beech woods and we pass underneath an overhanging cliff and begin ascending along the rocks of Bela Skala (white cliff). We hear water running but it’s well underneath the rocks and can’t be reached. In 5 minute we take a sharp right and follow the zig zaging path steeply to reach a more steady climb and a sign for the hut (15min) to the left. The path becomes easy, passing amongst larch trees and soon we are able to see the twin lakes Dvojno jezero with the Koca pri Triglavskih jezerih where you can spend the night. We stopped for lunch, a delicious bean stew with kaiser, filled up the water bottles and continued uphill.

Dvojno jezero with the Koca pri Triglavskih jezerihFrom the hut the path leads off on the right side by the man made pools with crystal clear water. For the next 30 minutes we climb gently on limestone pavement between boulders to reach the sign for “Veliko spicje” (2h) to the left. While the initial plan was to go over the summits of Veliko and Malo spicje we felt too tired and were melting under the burning sun. I felt drained of energy and decided to continue to the next lake instead. The path is clear and we keep gaining altitude surrounded by rocky peaks and screes of Zelnarica. It is not long until we reach the largest and deepest of the lakes – Jezero v Ledvici. Shaped like a kidney it’s located at the foot of Veliko spicje and has a beautiful green colour at the shore and dark blue in the middle. A narrow and steep path drops to the lake where one can swim if dares to test the freezing cold water. After a short break the journey continues through alpine landscape and we arrive at Zelene Jezero. It looks more like a pool than a like during the dry summer months and the famous green colour almost nonexistent. We’re not impressed and continue following the sign on a big rock boulder with Kanjavec as a bearing. In short time we can spot the hut on top of a small hill and Rjavo jezero, probably the smallest of all with just very little water left. A few hundred meters to the right of the hut lays the last of the seven lakes, Jezeru pod Vrsacem. Just above the lake there is the only water source in the area, a stream that flows into the lake.Zasavska koca na Prehodavcih

Zasavska koca na Prehodavcih is 10-15 minutes from the last lake on top of a plateau with spectacular views to Kanjavec, Zelnarica and into the opposite valley all the way to Razor and into Tolmin valley. One of the best mountain huts I have been so far while hiking. Has been renovated and the rooms are clean and only 12.7€/night. The food is delicious and beds comfortable. Just a few minutes away, the new metal winter bivouac it’s full of life. The hut is so packed that they had to open it. Therefore I strongly suggest you book in advance. We arrived just before the storm hit. It went away as quickly as it came and we were able to enjoy a breathtaking sunset. What a day.

 

Day 9: Zasavska koca na Prehodavcih – Kanjavec (2568m) – Dolic Hut

Descending from KanjavecWe have enjoyed the beautiful Slovenian mountains for over a week by now and felt in love. After a good night sleep both me and Cosmin were eager to continue our journey and left with the first light. The shortest and quickest way to reach Dolic Hut is by traversing on the left side of the massive rock wall. It is exposed and quite dangerous due to rockfall. While been keen on adventure and adrenaline this time a safer option was preferred. Sometimes the route is not in condition and having to turn back would have cost us precious time. We followed the sign to the hut uphill through the boulders on a rocky path. At the lake turn left and continue ascending following the marking. The ascent is strenuous and terrain loose. We turn left at the junction and head for Kanjavec while others continued to Cez Hribarica. The way to the summit is clear for most of the part but at times we have to jump over gaps in the rocks. The mountain is constantly eroded by mother nature and everything is crumbly. It becomes steep as you get close to the summit which is not to be seen until you reach the small col. Here we turn right and soon stand on the highest point with 360 degree views including Triglav that now seems closer than never.

 

Dolic HutFrom here on is only downhill on a well marked path. Extra care is required as the rock is very loose and in wet conditions one can slip easily. In no time a steep rock wall is reached and the beginning of a short via ferrata. There is no helmet or protection required just a steady foot and we’re down. After crossing the snow field we pick up speed on a gentle slope zig zaging our way down. It’s not long until we see a building roof and after 40 minutes from the summit we arrive at Dolic Hut. The building is located at a junction in between Triglav and Kanjavec, towered by big rocky walls and two valleys. The temperature is considerably lower and very windy. There is no phone signal, no shower and a massive queue for the check in. We are announced that the room allocation will start at 5pm and we are happy to have made reservations well in advance as it’s fully booked. At 32€ for half board in a room of 6 it is on the more expensive side from what we’ve had so far. The conditions are good and there is running water at the tap during the day before it freezes. The beer is 4€ and the local made cake 3.5€ it’s delicious. There is also electricity and a a few sockets to charge your camera/phone. If you don’t want to sleep in the dining room, make reservations.

 

Day 10: Dolic Hut – Luknja Pass (1758m) – Bovski Gamsovec (2392m) – Pogacnikov Dom – Razor (2601m)

Hiking trail zig zags down the mountainWhen the alarm rang it was pitch black. Everybody was still sleeping and it was cold. We quietly pack our rucksacks and picked up the breakfast that the warden left for us and left. Guided by the headlamp light we start descending on the narrow path in the direction of Trenta. It was the start of a long day. We follow the well marked path ignoring the local map which directs us to a sharp right over the rocky peaks and descend into the valley. The sun is rising and we are starting to wonder if our direction is correct. Soon enough we can spot the ascending trail zigzagging up the opposite mountain and all our doubts are completely scattered. While relieved, it will be a long and strenuous ascent to regain the lost altitude. At a junction we leave behind the path to Trenta and turn sharp right where a sign marks “Luknja” pass. At first a rocky path takes us through pine forest on higher grounds. The ascent is easy but long and we stop for breakfast. There is no one else on the mountain and we appreciate the deep silence and beautiful view. Eventually we reach the Luknja pass, the cross way between Vrata and Trenta valleys, about 3 hours from the hut.

 

We salute a small group that were camping there and continued to the left, ascending on steep rock and loose scree. A sign on a big boulder points the direction but the path is not well defined. Making our way through fallen rocks we reach a small col and stop to admire the massive wall of Bovski Gamsovec and full ridge that we’re just about to climb. Turn right towards the ridge and then left and up once you reach the start. At first a muddy path that cuts through the grassy pastures takes us higher on exposed terrain until we finally reach the rocky ridge at a junction. We dropped our packs and continue for another 5 minutes on protected rock to reach the summit of Bovski Gamsovec. On a clear day one can see far into Austria, but most important Triglav and Razor. In between the mountains, on a rocky ledge and surrounded by lakes, a hut. We retrace our steps and continue on the ridge but soon start descending on very steep rock protected by pegs and cables. There is no need for helmet or gear unless you climb under another party. Shortly we are on flat ground and follow the path to Pogacnikov Dom. The many crevices require careful footwork. There is good chance to see ibex and chamois so keep your camera at hand.Via Ferrata from the top of Bovski Gamsovec

The hut is big and well maintained. There is fresh drinking water but no shower. The food is delicious and very reasonably priced. After a long day a 8€ fried sausage with buckwheat was divine. I totally recommend getting the half board for just 22€ but add some more if you are a beer lover as it’s not cheap at 3.8€ a bottle.

After the weather threatened to close in and a few drops forced everyone to seek shelter in the dining room, the sun came out again. There was still plenty of daylight and after a long debate we decided to change our initial plan. We were to traverse from the hut over Planja, Skrbina, Prisojnik and to the other side of the mountain to Kranjska Gora. That meant a full day spend on the ridge at over 2000m with no shelter in case of bad weather. As we couldn’t find enough information and weren’t certain this is possible without climbing gear the decision was to drop straight into Trenta for a chill last day. That been said, we still didn’t want to miss Razor and as the sun came out again we charged to the summit. Visible from the hut, the path is clear and easy to follow. Not so easy to ascent though as the ground is very loose and requires a strong footwork. At first a rocky path takes us closer to the mountain where pegs and ladders aid a short scramble to gain higher ground. From here we ascend on loose scree and traverse to the left gaining altitude. With every step the ground slides and a lot of energy is put into keeping the fast pace. We reach another section protected with a metal cable and then more solid ground.

Razor with Pogacnikov Dom

Traverse to the right now and soon reach a saddle that separates the two peaks, Planja and Razor. We continue our ascent to the second one quite steep on loose rock, pass by a cave and reach a badly eroded gully. At first it seems impossible as with every step climbed you go back two more, but keeping left on the rocks seems to do the trick and we’re at last on top of it in a small col. In a few turns we get face to face with the rock wall below the summit. Protected with metal pegs and a metal cable at the top, this requires precise footwork and nerves of steel. It is not long but a fall here would be almost fatal. With no protection other than the helmet we start climbing. Cosmin struggles and his hiking boots prove not to be up to the challenge so he decides to wait. Pumped but happy to be on the final summit ridge, I can now see the top of Razor. It took me 1h and 30min from the hut. On return we sadly didn’t have enough time to reach Planja as the night was falling and Cosmin wasn’t keen on climbing anymore. We agreed to go down together and 40 minutes later we reached the hut, just in the for dinner. It was to be the last peak of our trip.

 

Day 11: Pogacnikov Dom – Trenta – Kranjska Gora

Trenta valleyOur beautiful journey through the Slovenian mountains was coming to and end. There was no sense of rush and from now on the path was to be just downhill. Trenta valley was clearly visible from the hut and marked 4h. By the time we left, the sun was already up and shining. The rocky path zig zags down the mountain loosing altitude fast. Without being neither too hard nor too steep at times it takes us through short sections of pine forest. There is a water pipe about 20 minutes from the hut if you forgot to take enough water. We pick up the pace and reach the bottom valley way faster than estimated. We go by an old lift cabin and continue on paved road for another 10 minutes to reach a junction. Here turn right and then cross the parking lot to join the main road where we make left.

No too long after we arrive in Trenta. Lying on the upper part of the Soca river, and close to the Italian border it is a major touristic  destination. Local busses go in both directions and accommodation can be found if you want to spend the night. There is a small supermarket by the main road at the exit towards Soca and a tourist information centre.

Soca GorgeWe picked up a small map and decided to follow the river uphill rather than do the Soca Trail. The ascent it’s easy and for most of the time you don’t go too far from the river. The scenery alternates from beech forest to river bed, traditional Slovenian villages and green pastures. It is very long and by the time we were a few hours in and decided to stop we realised there are no bus stops until the gorge which was actually the main objective. Overall it did not worth the 5 hours detour and we wished we had take bus there and back and then continued with the classic trail to Vrisc. It was hot and not much to see other than the clear blue water for the whole time. It was so late when we finished that almost missed the last bus to Kransjka Gora – 5.6€ for one way.

Arrived in our hotel room, we celebrated with a shower and after with local sausages and cheese and cold beer. The trip was not over yet but we’ve completed with success our hiking through Slovenian Alps. Great memories have been made and we enjoyed the time spent in the mountains. Great trails, good rock and amazing summit views awaits him/her who dares to follow our steps.

 

Day 12: Kranjska Gora – Ljubljana

From the main stop several busses go to Lake Bled from where you take another connection to Ljubljana. The ticket can be bought from the driver for the whole journey for 9.6€. I send my goodbyes to Cosmin who decided to go Bovec for some rafting and continued alone to spend a few days in the Slovenian capital – Ljubljana.

 

 

 

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