This morning we wake slowly in the warm, wooden lodge. Yesterday, I had so much energy. I ran up the last few metres to the summit of Snežnik. I felt I could’ve happily kept walking past the lodge, even though it was certainly the longest day I’ve ever hiked. But today, I feel less enthused. Plus the forecast is for thunderstorms again. I push my face back into the soft flannelette pillow. It takes a while to get out of bed.
To make it worse, today’s route is going to be a long trudge. It takes us north along forestry roads to a town called Mašun, and then back south-east along more roads in the direction of Ilirska Bistrica, the next major town. Roads, roads, roads… Our plan is to then pitch camp near a ruined church called Sveti Ahac, a few kilometres out from Ilirska, and restock our food supply tomorrow.
When we finally get walking, the roads are long, gravelly and dull. Getting to Mašun is more slow-going than expected; somehow, the time is passing but the distance is not. We reach the village by lunch time having walked a measly 10 km (which includes 1.3 km of being lost).
As we walk out of Mašun along a hard, asphalt road, thunder rumbles ominously and the air chills.
It starts to rain.
Then, something miraculous happens.
Someone offers us a lift.
A white van pulls over and a man rolls down the window. Through the downpour, he says something friendly in Slovenian. I apologise, and convey that I only speak English. He gesticulates that we should hop in. He mimes the rain coming down. He has space for two! And our bags!!
My time has come.
I can finally, for the first time in my hiking life, majestically refuse a lift.
Being offered a lift is something I frequently fantasise about. Because no matter how hard it gets, saying no to a lift would remind me that I am, in fact, walking by choice. I may be upset or miserable or feeling incapable, but there’s no emergency – no real problem. Everything’s okay. So we wave him on! We’re okay!
I’ll admit the thrill soon wears off as we head back onto more forestry roads.
A few hours later, we’ve realised we’re definitely not going to reach the church tonight. Instead, we decide that the nicest patch of grass found after five will be home for the night.
A beautiful valley of grass opens before us, just a bit further on. Perfect. The rain lets up, so we kick some cow pats out of the way and wack up the tent. Dinner tonight is a wholewheat noodle soup concoction with fresh asparagus and zucchini (mum would be proud!). As the evening settles in, it seems the rain has passed for now. Just time for a cuppa and a read. Lovely.
Having been in Slovenia a couple of weeks, we’ve begun to pick up a little of the language. So far my vocabulary is as follows:
Hvala – thank you
Planinski – mountain
Planinski dom – mountain hut
Planinski caj – mountain tea
POZOR! – WARNING!
Sveti – church
Grad – castle
Paprika – capsicum
It pains me to know that my new favourite word, ‘planinski’ is about to become ‘planinarski’ when we cross the border into Croatia. It’s just not the same.
Slovenia, Stage 1
Start and end points: Planinski dom na Sviščakih (Sviščaki lodge) to a scenic patch of grass near the locality Trnovska Bajta
Approximate distance: 24.5 km
Villages: Sviščaki – Mašun