6/29 Wow. What a first day. Not much has ever rocked me that hard before. Even my time in the Sierras. But as usual the trail provides always giving you what you need at the exact moments you desperately need it. But for the easy part first, the day started great. Nice solid breakfast before walking just over a mile from our Airbnb to the ferry station. We got to walk through the best parts of Italy I’ve seen yet. Just real and filled with the cutest houses. Although we get scowled at consistently we just smile say Cia and keep walking. The ferry was also legit. Taking us about 20 min on the Adriatic Sea before dropping us off in Muggio an even cuter town than Trieste, where the Via Alpina begins. Directly in the middle of town which is random. The beginning, actually this entire trail, was confusing. There were multiple trail markers which were just painted colors on bricks, curbs, trees, but no idea which meant which. We were seeing a lot of blue first which we thought could be it, but then we saw red and white and knew that made much more sense since we are hiking the Red Trail. The blue turned out to be the Via Adria and the red and white ended up meaning multiple different things. We went uphill immediately and through part of it we saw another hiker coming our way. We stopped to chat and that’s when the world became so small again! She had hiked from Austria, she asked where I was from and I said CA and she lit up and said she was there last year. HIKING THE PCT!!! She was only a couple days behind us the whole time. Her name is D-Hiker, from Germany, and she actually knows part of my trail fam, Sante and Javaloo. It was so unreal amazing and so special to get that connection. We chatted for quite awhile before splitting up, her on her last day of trail, and us on our first. We saw many beautiful homes, animals, greenery, fruits, olive trees, etc on our hike. Some apple trees, grape trees, dig trees, berries, can’t wait until they’re more ripe and we can forage!!! We soon accidentally went on a wrong trail which led straight up. After a bit, and still seeing white and red markers, we learned it wasn’t our trail. Going uphill for no reason sucks! And now we are more confused with the painted markers. The trail soon became a bike path staying near the roads before making us climb again. This time it was literally step ups every step. Which is honestly my favorite! And the views weren’t too shabby. We went on another path which after a bit I felt was wrong and checked…and it was. So for the 3rd time today we had walked a bit extra. We could have stayed on this trail and met back up with ours later, but it looked longer so we decided to turn back. And man we shouldn’t have! Shortly after getting on our trail past the junction the trail went missing. We just kept walking through the brush thinking it’ll pop up again soon. But it didn’t and looking at the map we were about 100ft above the trail. But we decided to just follow the mountain down until we connect to it. But we kept lowering and lowering and nothing. Soon after some slightly sketchy and hard descents we looked a little closer so we kept going. But then it turned into lots of rock fields. Slippery ones. The worst. We carefully, and very slowly made our way through them knowing a slip could cost us a lot…..we would have been screwed. That’s where the snow is better at least you can self arrest. But on these rocks you can’t even trust the larger ones to not slide out on you. We used the trees and any branches to hang on to for extra support. Meg and I stopped at a little spot that was nice to sit. It’s hot and she’s been out of water for quite awhile, and I don’t have much left. We have been sweating non-stop and none of us have used the bathroom all day because we just can’t drink enough water. I started getting really nervous. It was too late to go back up, and we didn’t think we had the energy. Laughing now at the fact we said that at least our insurance covers helicopter rescues. Just as we were losing hope on the trail and ourselves Simon yelled “TRAIL” best news ever! It was still pretty sketchy getting down there. And at one point I dropped my pack to go help Meg and after a few min the rocks gave and my bag went sliding down so Simon had to step in to stop it. But my water bottle also fell out so he went right to stop my bag and a big left to get my bottle which landed him in a super awkward position with my pack attacking his leg. In the end we all were fine, we had made it less than a mile in well over an hour. And after some quick switchbacks on more pointy rocks, our poor feet, we came across a lovely man made waterfall. Immediately I jumped in drinking water from my filter as I stood under it. Heaven! It’s so funny how you could just be so miserable and the second you’re good and in a cool place it doesn’t even matter anymore. We ate dinner there before heading out to hike further out to a stream we saw on the map to camp at. This evening walk was unreal. The sunset on the big rocks covering the mountain was just amazing. And the best part we saw like 12 mountain goats! I was SO HAPPY! And we wouldn’t have seen these things if we had come off that mountain any sooner! It was pure magic. We camped right near the village of Buzzavia at a nice stream. I didn’t sleep good at all this night. Every sound freaked me out, I’m terrified of these wild boars. I hear they don’t play games! It is also apparently illegal to camp here so we have to be stealthy, we were near homes so I was nervous. So I maybe slept a few hours. I was happy when it was morning. Gotta just get used to this again.
6/30 leaving about 7:15am after very quickly just bring back into the normal routine of everything. It was like I never left the trail. Immediately we took the wrong trail. So back tracked and found the trail sneaking back in between some houses. Who the hell came up with this? I got frustrated but know I can’t let myself get annoyed. This hike will be so different than the PCT and I have to get used to getting lost at some point each day. This whole trail only seems to ever be going uphill. ALWAYS! Luckily, it always rewards us with some beautiful views as well. There were so many farms and gardens as we mainly walked in some forest/gravel roads. We took a short cut because we need to make up time to make sure we get to Stats by the 1st. And I realized, we only accounted for the 37 miles on the Alpina to get to him not the additional 11ish to get to the castle where we are actually meeting him. Knowing we couldn’t do a massive day at this point we decided to take some other trails to the nearby town of Divaca to catch a bus to take us to Razdrto where the Dinarica begins. The walk was ok except the last few miles on the road after Preloze. But there are so many butterflies and these beautiful black moth things with yellow dots on the wings. They’re everywhere and just perfect! We got to town and went to a delicious little restaurant to recharge our minds, bodies, and our phones. We sat for hours which felt so nice. I had an amazing dish of filled squash, eggplant, and peppers with their fresh made bread!!!! So so good. We headed to the bus station where I took a nap. It’s nice to not be stressing about skipping trail which was a huge No-no on the PCT. But this first part was just for fun and adventure which is most certainly has been. The bus was perfect and easy. Although squeezing through the isles with our packs wasn’t too easy, but entertaining for sure! And before I knew it we were on the Via Dinarica. Ready to go up this huge mountain that’s glooming over and taunting us. It looks so massive and slightly intimidating. Luckily this trail is perfectly marked making it super easy to just grind and go. The uphill was quite intense. Again making us do many step ups onto huge tall rocks again, and again, and again. We kept taking breaks as the views only got better the higher we got up. I have seriously never seen so much greenery. It is so outrageously beautiful. We blasted through the uphill pretty quickly reaching the top just in time for one of the best sunsets I’ve ever seen. Every hard time is made better by these kinds of rewards. It’s why I truly love backpacking. We’re now stealth camping back in the forest listening to the rain hit our tents as we try and recover for another day. Tomorrow is going to be even more special.