So this day was one for the books. It deserves its own special post. It led to a night of very little sleep due to the stress and anxiety that had settled in during the day. Started normal. Had a 1.5 mile walk to town and while we waited for the grocery store to open we tried the famous Burek. A philo dough pastry filled with different things, mine was just cheese. It was so so delicious. It is literally probably all I truly crave now and I just want more and more of it. It was cool to see them being cooked “under the bell” as they call it. After the store and grabbing just a couple bars to get us through the next morning we set out for our steepest and toughest climb, I think, that’s on the trail. We climbed about 5,000 in about 5km. First we had to get to it though and the trail led us through some of the most disgusting forest I’ve ever felt. I was consistently wrapped in cobwebs and there were gnats everywhere, it smelt bad, Megan heard a boar by the water. The ground was super mushy in some places. It was just a weird energy. I tried my best to just race through it and get to a break in the trees. The climb itself was quite tough. My Achilles were aching with still 1.5miles to go. But I don’t like taking breaks so I just kept chugging along and ended up making it up there in pretty decent time. While I waited for Meg I let my extremely sweaty clothes hang to try and dry out. Once she got there and we left it was already about 3pm. Not long into walking we hit an area of trail we were told had a bit of bushwhacking. A bit was quite an exaggeration. This part of trail was nearly impassable. Even without a pack it’d be brutal. Dwarf pines swarmed all over the trail. Their thick branches sometimes barely able to move and they’d just scratch and grab onto me as I tried to pass through them. It took us forever to escape that place. I started getting really claustrophobic at one point. It was quite uncomfortable. Then once we made it through we found ourselves on the top of a very open mountain and then heard it, thunder. We knew there was a cave nearby. Less than 2 miles away so we started to try and walk quickly towards it for shelter in case a storm case. And it did, just far quicker than we could ever get to that cave. We had to go hide out in a small rock bundle that took us out of the open area a bit. There was no shelter over head so we got pelted with rain. I luckily, have my super corny poncho that in this moment was my favorite piece of gear. It kept my entire body and pack dry. While Meg was freezing in her coat. It lasted just under an hour. It was terrifying. The lightning was literally right on us, flashing really brightly and followed immediately by the loudest snapping and cracking thunder. After a bit it’d seem to get further away from us, the thunder coming a few seconds after the lightning, then bang it’d be right back on us again. Meg was getting too cold so we had to get up and get moving. Luckily, the lightning storm ended and it stopped raining soon after. We walked and came upon an emergency shelter, that wasn’t on our maps. So Meg switched to dry clothes and after warming up a bit we headed out. Hoping to get 4 more miles to the next shelter. We had been told by previous hikers that there are multiple times in Bosnia that the GPS is off of what the marked trail is. And to follow the trail. So after the trail almost took us right off a mountain we found a marked trail and followed it. And after almost an hour we realized that the trail was taking us in the wrong direction. Back around and over some mountains that would end up leading us back to where we came from. So exhausted, frustrated, anxious, we decided to just get back to the emergency shelter and camp there. Initially we planned to just be a few miles out of town this night, instead we’re over 13. Thankfully we had each bought some bars from the store otherwise we would have no food. The night ended up being amazing, besides the not sleeping part. But the beauty of the sky kept me in good company. I spent a decent chunk of time laying half out of my tent just stargazing, my favorite.
The next day we did get lost for a bit adding a mile or so of hiking. But the hiking overall was so special. It’s like the High Sierras, without all the snow. Just big jagged rocky peaks surrounding us. It provided us with some of the most beautiful views yet. It definitely would not have been appreciated by us if we hadn’t had rested at the shelter. The 13 miles took quite awhile. It lead us out of the mountains, which had seemed to last forever due to all the stress. We got to the hotel and went to hitch. After waiting a bit with only 2 cars, we started heading back down to the hotel to call a taxi. And I randomly stuck my thumb up when a huge logging truck was about to pass and what do you know. He stopped. It was so so much fun to get to ride in this massive truck. He dropped us in Mostar where we have spent the last few days. Doing nothing but eating tons of food and laying around watching tv. Allowing our bodies and minds to recover. Mostar is a super cool beautiful town and we are renting the perfect apartment. Tomorrow we plan to head back out with a new mindset. We’re now only planning and packing food and goods for 12 mile days. We are sure we will typically do more, but we don’t want to be stressed and nervous about food when days happen where we planned to hike 20 miles, and only did 10. This trail is consistently making us change our perspectives on what a thru-hike can be like, and even just what a “trail” is. Learning to accept this for what it is has been tough, but we are continuously trying. We’re hoping our mental change will allow us to enjoy what we’re doing day in and day out a bit more. We have less than 300 miles left until the trail is over, and my goal is to live fully present in, and appreciate each and every single day we have left.