I’d like to dedicate this post to one of my dearest friends Jomayra. When I met this very special lady two years ago, for the very first time, we were both walking the Camino de Santiago. I passed this stranger as she was dissolving into tears, and as people stopped to see if she needed help, she replied that the mountains with their solid white cliffs looming over us were just so intensely beautiful, that it made her emotional. Since meeting her that first time, I have told her that I was actually a bit jealous that she could feel something so deeply about nature, that it caused such a reaction.
Well, it finally happened to me in the summer of 2017 while walking through the Triglav National Park in Slovenia. But honestly, the mountains did this to me in such a sneaky way.
I was on my second day of walking through the park, and I had been seeing the tips of the highest Alps barely poking over the tops of the hills I was walking through.
Suddenly the rocks and the trees opened up, unleashing one of the most intense scenic views I have ever experienced.
The intensity of the scene.
The suddenness of its appearance.
The lack of any warning that anything like this was coming.
I was suddenly standing on a very high cliff looking across a wide valley. On the opposite side of the valley stood a rock wall over 2000 meters high and 8000 meters wide.
It was like having a million IMAX screens, side to side, with ultra HD and one amazing, intense image that almost knocked me out.
My first reaction was to drop my walking stick, put my hands on my head (to keep it from exploding) and then I just screamed at the mountains in defiance.
“NO FKING WAY!.. NO WAY”
(Being alone on an entire mountain gives you the freedom to scream random things out loud.)
The screaming only lasted 2 or 3 minutes but eventually ended in my being physically shaken and with a few tears in my eyes.
I soon gathered my senses and tried to document the view with my camera, but I already knew that trying to capture the feeling of this view was pointless.
That was just one moment out of so many that took place during five days of hiking.
Every day I walked, the view of the mountains, and from the mountains, got progressively more impressive. But the mountains had lost the element of surprise after that first visual assault of intense beauty, and though I was completely in love with every view of every mountain for the rest of the trip, I never got close to the hysterics of my first topographical-meltdown.
I climbed to the base of Triglav (Slovenia’s tallest peak) but I chose not to climb all the way to the top because I had been walking on the mountain tops for three days at that point, and there was no shade with all of the trees left behind at an altitude far below.
There was one part of the trek on day three, crossing over the peak of Mt. Kanjavec, where I had to climb a wall of melting snow… and if I slipped I would be sliding thousands of meters down the side of a mountain. That was absolutely terrifying. The sets of tracks in front of me, of people that had gone before me, gave me the confidence that I could do it though.
From there, I began my decent, once again seeing wildflowers, then dwarf pine trees, the full-size pine trees. I had the privilege to catch a rare glimpse of the legendary Goldenhorn Ram (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goldhorn). Lots of amazing legends associated with this beautiful animal.
I terrified quite a few groundhogs as I passed through the valley on my way down the mountain. Many times, as I surprised the groundhogs, they would, in turn, scare me. When surprised, these animals make an ultra-high pitch scream, and sometimes dart right across your path to get back to their hiding place.
On my final stretch, the entire last day, on my decent to get off the mountain, it rained. Then it began to thunder as I began to cross my last mountain peak before my final decent.
Then came the lightning.
I climbed up into a cave and waited for almost two hours for the flashes of light to stop. Taking cover in a mountain cave to avoid being struck by lightning. Quite an adventure in itself.
When I finally reached the bottom of the mountain, I took a tour of the very famous Savica waterfall, then, wet and freezing, I found a nice hostel on the southern shore of the magnificent Lake Bohinj, where I stayed for two days because, after days in the intense sun, days extreme physical exertion and then 24 hours of being wet and cold… surprise, I got sick.
Seventy two hours later I am feeling 95% better and back at the 1A Adventure Hostel in the Lake Bled area.
I absolutely love this hostel and so many of the other travelers I have met here feel the same. The people that run the hostel are always in a great mood and they are so gregarious and instigate conversations between guests. By the end of the day, every day, it is as if everyone in the hostel knows each other. Staying in this hostel was actually one of the great highlights of my amazing trip to Slovenia. I can’t thank them enough for their hospitality and great conversations.
In just a few days I board a plane in Ljubljana, and head to the Faroe Islands for the month of July. Returning to one of the most beautiful places I visited last summer, to spend my 50th birthday working at the G! Festival with some extraordinary and awesome people, and hiking across one of the most beautiful countries I have ever been to in my life.
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