Rogla, Slovenia

A Reminder to Live

Forrest Mallard

In short, Slovenia is absolutely a hidden gem. So intensely green and the people are the friendliest I have met outside of Scandinavia.

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Yesterday morning, at 7 am, I began the Slovenian Mountain Trail. I began walking at the Plague Memorial in the old town square because that is near where my hostel is located.

One hour later I found the entrance to the trail, and immediately after that, I began an 8-hour climb of over 1000 meters. As soon as I saw the first mountain hut after my first 5 hours of climbing, I almost cried… the first-day climb was intensely hard for me and there is also so much on my mind at the moment.

It is not taking very long for me to fall madly in love with this country. No crime. Rated second best place to raise your children (after Sweden). They LOVE hiking here. It is so very inexpensive.

My first night at the Ruška koča mountain hut felt a bit odd. I was the only person spending the night in this massive lodge with over 400 beds. I found the same thing tonight at the even larger Koča na Pesku mountain hut. It seems that the main season here starts in August. Then all of the huts will be completely full. But for now, each of the huts I have stayed in so far has given me a key and told me I am the only one in the lodge, and they will see me in the morning so I can pay my bill before I continue my trekking.

Yesterday I was in a bit of pain as I climbed such steep hills, but today was a little easier and I had a lot of time to think about so many things as I walked through the beautiful forests.

The main thing on my mind was a friend of mine that I hadn’t spoken to that much in over a decade. Ric Swezey had recently had an accident and broke his neck. For those of you that might know Ric, he has always been ‘Mr. Positivity.’ There were times when he would randomly say things like “Forrest, you are the most creative person I know.” Random compliments. And he wouldn’t just say them to me, he would sometimes announce these things so that other people could hear. No matter what was was going on in my life, I never had any doubt that he was my a friend and supported me and somehow respected me, even in the darkest times when I had little respect for myself.

As I walked through the mountains today, I thought about how much his kindness still means to me, even now a decade later. I thought about his family, his husband and his two children that I have never met and what an amazing father he must be. I wept a bit in the forest as I walked, completely heartbroken for him and his family.

Today when I arrived at my mountain hut, I was able to get online and I read that he had passed.

The only way I can think of honoring this man is to try to live by his example. I will try to give more random compliments. I want to make people feel better about themselves for no other reason but to make this world a better place.

This might be difficult here in Slovenia where not everyone speaks English, but I am going to do it anyway. Thank you so much, Ric, for your positive gift to the world.

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