One day in February I got the most exhilarating call. It was Alenka from the Ljubljana Guides asking me if I could join her on an organized group hike in the Julian Alps in July. The plan was to start the hike from Savica above Lake Bohinj, go to the Krn Lake Hut on the first day, then off to the Triglav Lakes on the second and third day, and finally head back down to Lake Bohinj across the Blato Plateau on the fourth day. It sounded like a blast and so I was in!
Over the months I watched as the date grew closer on my calendar and pretty soon felt the urge to do some scouting first. As a result I walked 80 percent of the tour a few weekends beforehand (A spectacular yet stormy adventure in the Alps). Having seen my pics from the Triglav Lakes marathon weekend, my girlfriends, who otherwise never do any hiking, opted to join me on a shorter version of the trail the next weekend (This is how women climb mountains). By the time I was about to join the guiding team, I knew the trail by heart and felt ready for my guiding tour with the Americans.
However, as fate would have it, I needed to skip the first day of the tour, the one I was looking forward to most – the hike to the Krn Lake; and headed to join the group on their second day at the Triglav Lakes Hut. Me being me, I opted for the shorter but steeper (sweeter) route across the Komarča wall and arrived at the lakes well before the group who was still making their way there from the Komna Hut.
Waiting for the group, I had plenty of time to kill. What I did in that hour or so was shooting lots and lots of pictures of one of the most photogenic spots in the Julian Alps before the clouds totally obscured the view of two beautiful lakes and a charming wooden hut, trapped in an amphitheatre of high mountains.
Then the group came. The sweetest, funniest and most heart-warming group of six Americans, two Italian guides and Alenka, who immediately flipped my priorities upside down. My camera soon back in the backpack, we competed in playing cards instead, took intriguing quizzes (Americans surely do come to the mountains prepared, wow!), and simply enjoyed casual conversation getting to know each other better.
Things would have been perfect if the weather hadn’t broken to the point we couldn’t leave the hut without getting totally wet. The next morning, I was already out by 6.30, hoping for that early morning window of nicer weather, which is usually the case in the mountains, and started walking towards the turquoise 300 m long, 120 m wide and 15 m deep Big Lake. After an hour, when the landscape hid under a heavy curtain of thick fog and rain, making it hard to even follow the trail let alone admire the views, I turned around. Heck, it’s even possible I had already passed the lake without actually noticing it. However, as it turned out, I might have missed the view of the largest of the seven Triglav Lakes, but I did arrive back at the hut just on time for a tasty breakfast. My stomach tends to have this sixth sense for knowing when food is being served nearby! 😀
The day passed in long conversations, competitions in playing Uno cards, and teaching the group extremely useful Slovene words like »Jaz želim reševalno!« and »Jaz želim sir!« (Eng. »I want rescue service«, and »I want cheese«). The day also passed by looking outside the window hoping to get a chance to show our fellow Americans, Kelly, Linda, Lise, John, Scott, and Jay, and the Italian guides Mario and Lorenzo, why I, we, love Slovenian mountains so much. Our huts might not have saunas and massages (right, Mario?) or a signal (right, everyone? … including me 😛 ), but once you open your heart to simplicity, the surreal world up there just kind of sneaks under your skin absorbing every atom of your soul, knitting a truly pristine connection with nature. The kind you are left dreaming of well after you’re back to reality.
Luckily, the next morning, on my third day in the mountains and the group’s fourth – their last, the rain finally stopped. Nevertheless, the views were still nonexistent, and so we headed back to the valley without actually experiencing the true beauty of the Julian Alps together. Either way, Americans were happy. As happy as a group of good friends tends to be regardless of minor setbacks like crazy weather or spending two days in a hut instead of dipping legs in turquoise blue water and lying in soft grass below towering mountains. Well, the next time you’re here, guys, I promise you better views or at least a big fat Slovenian quiz to return the favor up there in the hut! 😉