We spent a couple of great rest days in Senj. Spending time floating in the Adriatic Sea suntanning and having no worries at all, eating amazing food and just hanging out. We stayed to watch the Croatia WC finals, and this kid in front of us broke two glasses right near us, part cutting Megan’s leg. Idk why we have such bad luck with this. We ended up leaving at half time as people here have no sense of personal space. A guy was literally leaning on my chairs arm rest. A couple days in town I was eager and ready to get moving again. We took the bus back to Vratnik to reconnect with the trail. We should have told the bus driver where we wanted to start because he dropped us off over a mile and a half away from the trail. I got pretty car sick and actually enjoyed the long road walk to just get feeling normal again. And then this day became my best and most positive day on trail. I finally realized and accepted that this isn’t the PCT and I need to quit comparing it all the time. I now know what it’s going to be like and won’t get frustrated just because it’s not an easy cruiser trail. This is what it is. The trail isn’t changing, only my mindset can. And that change created a beautiful day. Spent the day on decent trail hiking through ruins and meadows. Getting great views of the sea. I felt very connected with nature today. I felt like every plant that brushed on me was a part of me. I could feel the melody of the butterflies as they were dancing around each other. So elegant and graceful. After lunch at an old hiking hut in Oltari we officially entered Velebit National Park. The trails are so nice, quite rocky, but at least easy to follow. At this point over half of the sole of my shoe is ripped off. I finally feel like a thru hiker!!!
The trail through the park was far from monotonous which was nice. It went up, down, around, through grasslands and meadows, through forest, and high rock line ridges. We saw hours and hours of views of the Sea and it’s islands. Stopping to stare pretty frequently. Ended up hiking up 3 peaks this day, one extra just for fun! And then we stealth camped in the NP, luckily we didn’t get caught. Although, we never see anyone out here so I doubt there’s any rangers checking. This night was the worst I’ve ever slept on trail. My legs were literally burning from the stinging nettles and I could feel so many bumps and rocks under my sleeping pad. Meg and I each only slept a couple of hours. The next morning the rain continued making it even more difficult to get out and start hiking. 9 miles to Alan hut where we could dry out our stuff and relax. The trail was mellow and we were able to bust through it pretty efficiently. We got there and laid around a bit, it’s a killer place! And I had my own hiker trash Cinderella moment as one of the guys propped my foot up on a stool and with a classy cigarette hanging out of his mouth he taped up my shoe. All for just a smile. It only lasted one hour on all the rocks though before falling off. The rocks out here mimic all the lava rocks on the PCT. But omg every part was so worth it. So many views! I’m getting spoiled out here! We actually passed people on the trail, all teenagers from London and multiple groups of them. We saw them all again later at Skorpovac hut as they were on a big trip with some teachers backpacking for 4 days. What started as something we weren’t looking forward to turned it to such an amazing experience. We didn’t want to camp around 30 kids, luckily they went to a large camp just down the road. And we got to sleep in the hut which was super nice with great comfy beds. The host Tihomir, couldn’t speak much English but treated us so amazingly. He even made us tea, and just went out to the field and literally picked some oregano and made us a batch. The kids guide, Gordon, was a godsend. He could translate between us and Tihomir which allowed us to have good conversation. And both are from the area so helped us out with some questions. They both proposed to us once we told them about hiking the PCT, doing this, then the Camino. It was so great to be around others who love hiking as we do. And in the morning they provided us with apples, coffee, and tea before sending us off.
Some cool thoughts have wandered into my mind during this stage. 1) I really want to connect more with my family. Especially my nieces and nephews. 2) I wrote myself a love letter which had to be one of the most amazingly uplifting and spiritual things I’ve ever done. 3) my perspective on life kind of shifting. I was thinking about how out here doing these things allows us to feel every emotion every day. Fear/love, anxiety/excitement, sad/happy, frustration/ease, they all get to stand next to each other and show their faces every day. And that’s so rare. In everyday life how often do you get to experience all these things, and quite extremely as well? Our lives can become so monotonous and we’re just moving through the motions. I feel like everyday out here, is it’s own entire life. Like what if everyday, each 24 hour period, is its own entire life span. What if everyday I wake up I’ve been reborn, reincarnated with the guidance and wisdom of the past. And then I live the day feeling all Emotions to their deepest depths. And then I die at night, just to be reborn again the next day. These thoughts have really made me just appreciate every feeling so much more. When I get upset or feel tired I’m just with it now instead of fighting it. It’s been very refreshing. And I love how the trail and nature can open me up to such different perspectives.