It always strikes me as funny that the shorter and deemed easier trail days feel the toughest. It just goes to prove that mindset plays a massive role in our perspective reality. So many life lessons continuously being thrown at me out here, or anywhere I suppose. Just out here I’m more receptive to them. All day was pretty confusing trail wise. We were following old roads, but so many seemed to branch off in a million different directions it was continuously confusing. Walk, stop, check GPS, ok no roads for a bit. Walk 2 seconds, where did this road come from? Where is it going? I guess I’ll walk for a bit and see if the gps says I’m on the right trail. Over and over and over again. But I didn’t let it get to me! Just kept taking in the views of the rolling hills that surrounded me. What’s funny is that this stage is called the Mountains of Montenegro. Before, I thought this last week or so of trail was going to be tough. Lots of time in the mountains, long breaks from towns, lots of elevation change. And the stage name would certainly make you guess that. But no, it is walking through low lands viewing the Montenegrin mountains. We made it to Srvinsko lake around 10:30am and I went for a nice swim and we got to hang for a bit. I had skinny dipped and nobody was there when I did so, but legit when I got out like 6 jeeps filled with people pulled up to the other side of the lake. We are learning consistently that there aren’t really any “backcountry” attractions here. Everything can be driven to. We met 2 groups of people today who legit made us feel famous. We laughed and laughed about the absurdity of it all. The first group, ladies with a couple kids. We’re videoing us walking up and taking pictures and selfies and videos with us. Meg made a funny joke that they are going to put it online and say, “Come to Biogradska NP, where you can see real life hikers!” Haha. The next was further up the road, a couple of jeeps filled with people who just parked and walked maybe 2 minutes to the summit of Sveta Grada. They too were all chatty to us, and one man insinuated that these mountains were like the Appalachian. We disagreed, but continued on. After a steep downhill on the CT1 following under ski lifts we reached our destination, Mountain Lodge Vranjak. We sat and ate some Burek and yogurt. And I have been wanting to work, and spend less money. So have talked about doing dishes or some cleaning to pay for food and housing. So I went to the kitchen and just started cleaning, I didn’t ask since there was a language barrier. But the woman, who we later named Mama V, didn’t mind at all. We ended up getting to camp for free, not pay for lunch, got free tea and coffee in the morning. And actually at night some guys were there and bought a bunch of food and ended up giving us some. So that was a win! The ladies who took pics with us earlier also showed up, and took more pictures. And as I was outside doing handstands a crowd suddenly appeared and I basically became an entertainer for a bit. It’s quite strange. I loved this time at the lodge Mama V is so so kind and genuine. It’s in these moments I truly wish I could speak the language as I feel an even better bond could have been created.
The next day we had a quick gravel road walk to Trenjevik, a small but cute town. Offering a couple cafes and a place to stay. We hiked on passing a couple other hikers and a few mountain bikers. The 3 miles from there to Stavna was nice. A road surrounded by forest. Stavna was great! I had a delicious veggie omelet and we just hung for a few hours. My maps have been disappearing off my phone lately so I had to redownload them all, it has since happened again. But luckily we’re almost done. The trail after Stavna was an actual mountain trail! I loooooved it! The slippery mud and rocks felt so foreign again, but so much like home. We were surrounded by the beauty of large, rocky Mountains. I wanted to go up Kom Kuchki, but knew a storm was coming so there was no time. I never would have made it safely. So on I went. To Katun Carine where we planned to camp. The Katun was so legit! It had water, coffee, cookies, fuel, stove, candles, wine, all kinds of stuff. We killed a bottle of wine and hung out on rocks watching the sunset and the storm come in. And boy did it come in fast. All of the sudden we just heard hard pellets on the roof above us. It turned out it had hailed quite a bit, now I’m even more happy to be in this shelter. We slept inside, again thinking it’d just be a normal night but again, we were wrong. Not sure what time it was but a truck pulled up with 2 men. They got stuck in the mud and for quite a long time kept trying to get it out before giving up and just going to sleep out there. As much as I wanted to help, we didn’t think it was a good idea to expose ourselves as 2 women alone in a shelter with no where to go. The hut was locked from the inside, and they never even tried to open it so I felt safe
An occurrence early the next morning reassured me that we made the right decision by not going out to help the men. As we were walking Down the road a car pulled over with 2 guys. One very obviously checking me out up and down, not trying to be discrete at all. He keeps saying something, but I can’t hear him. Then I do, and so does Megan. Sex? He says….wtf is wrong with people. I was so disgusting. Part of me wanted to say yes and have him get out of the car just to kick him in the balls. But instead I sternly said no and immediately walked away. Only feeling safety from the fact there was a car behind them and no where to turn around. After that mess we entered back onto normal mountain trail. First going through forest then up to the top of Maglic peak. We have summited 2 Maglic mountains here. Both on the border, or very near, to country borders. The first Bosnia/Montenegro, and this one Montenegro/Albania. It was BEAUTIFUL! And a perfect snack spot. The mountains were just so vast and endless and rocky and jagged. We can see Albania from here. The descent was fun, some ridge walking followed by going up and over and down little humps along the mountains. Then weaving through and around rocks until we met the road that brought us to Rikavako Lake. Like usual, we enjoyed ourselves for a bit. Swimming and doing some laundry. Looking forward to relaxing and lounging. When some horses decided that wasn’t ok. They came over to us and started going at our things, licking everything of Megan’s, stepping on equipment. And just being annoying. We couldn’t get them to go away. So instead we packed up all of our stuff and we moved. Something always happens when we think we’ve found the best spot. The rest of the day I was bored then suddenly very tired and endlessly hungry. I ate most of the food I had left and want to just keep eating. The days we hike and do less my body just aches for more food. Must be another reason I like hiking all day instead. Now only just over 40 miles left.