Yesterday morning, at 7 am, I started the Slovenian Mountain Trail. I began walking at the Plague Memorial in Maribor’s old town square, simply because that was near my hostel.
One hour later, after quite a bit of searching, I found the entrance to the trail. Then I began an 8-hour climb of over 1000 meters. Five hours later, I saw the first mountain hut and wanted to cry. The first-day of climbing was intensely hard for me and there was also so much on my mind.
It is not taking very long for me to fall madly in love with this Slovenia. No crime. Rated second-best place to raise your children (after Sweden). They also LOVE hiking here. On top of all that, it is also 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 that I hadn’t seen in over a decade. Ric Swezey had recently had a horrible accident and broke his neck. Ric has always been ‘Mr. Positivity.’ There were times when he would randomly give out compliments. 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 some of the low points of my life 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.
Receive weekly travel news and special offers.