Lightning Strikes

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. 

First stages of Bosnia are crushing my soul

Bosnia has provided us with our first and only actual Via Dinarica signs. It was so exciting to see the first one and see some bright red arrow signs pointing our way. With the first days in Bosnia providing a lot of thunderstorms and gravel roads we weren’t too sure what to expect. Although the first day away from Busko lake was all road/gravel walking it was quite nice. First passing by the lake and all of the lake homes, out into just big massive fields. We got to meet a beautiful woman and her 2 daughters who pulled up to ask if we needed anything. She is planning to hike the Camino next year. It’s one of the things I love most about thru-hiking is the conversations it creates. I hope she does get to do it, so we all wished each other luck on our journeys and went on our way. Past windmills, losing trail, talking about family and fun things. And New Zealand which is brought up a lot. We CANNOT wait to go there and be reunited with our trail fam!!!! We camped at a spring right outside of the town, Mrkodol, thinking its such a legit campsite. Only to learn all the locals from town like to hang out there and come there to drink beer and cigarettes. It was quite funny. Then the darkness set in. This overall was one of the toughest sections mentally for me. I struggled daily to find positivity. I get so sick of the trail making us move so slow just by it not existing. It’s a game of walk to a dot, stand for a bit while trying to search for another. And sometimes they just disappear for a bit. The markings are better her than in Croatia, but the trails aren’t. The day out of Mrkodol began my daily tradition of getting lost off trail and doing extra uphill and walking. First I blazed up the wrong mountain. I didn’t cut enough left which kept me on a different hump where I either had to descend way down and go back up the other side, or heavily bushwhack to the top of this mountain then I could walk over. I obviously chose to do the latter as I hate backtracking. In which case I had to literally army crawl under tree branches and got super cut up. Only to get on trail again then lose it moments later, Meg lost it too and we found each other luckily. Many “F you Via Dinaricas” were said this day and the days following. One cool thing that did happen is I made my first fire! I’m always with people who know how to do it so have never done it, but there was a fire pit, we were at camp early, and I refused to go this whole journey without a campfire. A simple thing that helped melt the frustrations of the day away. 

Next day, same thing. Missed a junction for the trail and ended up on the backside of the mountain so I had to bushwhack myself back to trail. The map showed I was on a trail, although it was the wrong one, but there was no trail. We summited Mali Vran, Vran, then Veliki Vran. We followed a mark path down the mountain only to realize after quite a long time it wasn’t our trail. It’s the problem with them using the same trail markings for any and all trails. The most frustrating part is that this perfectly maintained and well marked path didn’t exist on our maps so we had no clue where it was going giving us no option but to head back. But we could see way down the mountain where we needed to go, so we decided to just head straight down. Luckily, it was fairly open for the first bit, and the trees were spread out enough we didn’t have too much trouble getting through. But a descent that should have taken 45min took us almost 3 hours. We hit the hotel we were heading for, a super nice place reminding me of Callahan’s near Ashland, OR. We decided to have a meal, and it was possibly one of the best I’ve ever eaten. Everything there is cooked fresh with local foods. Perfect way to forget about what we just went through. Again, the pattern of cursing the trail followed by some simple food and a good campsite helping bring a little light back into my heart continues. 

The next day leaving Masna Luca began on a beautiful trail, no sights or views, but perfectly maintained and marked! But of course I’m walking, check my phone, and I’m off trail. Having to back track back uphill on loose rocks. When I saw Meg we tried to take the VD route, but after a few minutes we disappeared. So we decided to bail on it and stick to the trail I was on as it met back up with the trail. So for the 3rd time I had to go up that dang loose rock hill. I was pissed. I yelled. I’m over it. I want to just be able to hike. I just don’t think this trail is meant for my style. I like to just walk fast and cruise, not stare at my phone every couple of minutes or consistently stop to have to look for the next waypoint. We got to eat lunch at an amazing hut that looked out onto the mountains. After that initial mishap though, the trail was maintained and easy to follow all day. And the trail reminded us of hiking in Washington, my favorite section of the PCT. Views of mountains all around then getting to hike through some meadows. We got to see a tiny glacial lake, and then Rebels Gate which was super cool! It’s a big ring on the side of the mountain. Very popular and we actually saw a large group of people when we were heading towards it, which is super rare out here!! No big miles this section, someday only maybe 8. We camped about 1.5 miles outside of Jablanica, next to a river, Yay for getting to rinse off! And an apple tree which was the best thing to know I got to wake up and eat a fresh apple. The next day we had a, 1,500m,5,000ft, climb in about 5km. A nice chunk of it cramming itself into about 2km. That day deserves its own special post. 

But the trail is totally beating my spirits down. I’m typically a very light and positive person, but these days I struggle to find a smile while hiking. Even when the trail is nice I’m just endlessly anticipating the I’m on the wrong path or that it will go bad at some point. Making me get lost and do extra, or making us move crazy slow. It’s breaking me down. Stripping me down, and just fully exposing my soul. Making me as vulnerable as I could ever be. And now every little thing feels like a stab. And it’s daily just breaking me down more and more. Things that didn’t used to bother me and I could just laugh off, now make me want to scream or cry. But this could be what I need, it could be my spiritual journey. It’s breaking me down to build me back up into a better and wiser version of myself. Or, so I can hope. I believe in the good things coming. 

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See ya later Croatia!

Leaving Gracac we stopped for a quick delicious bite at a local restaurant in Grab. Which was literally the only thing there. We ended up hiking 12 miles that afternoon without leaving town until almost 3 and eating lunch. My energy is feeling good, but my feet are definitely limiting me. The next day our miles shot back up to typical PCT mileage’s. We hit 27 miles. And yet it seemed like we did nothing. There was no major climbing or descent just road walk. The entire day. The only truly interesting thing that happened this day was a skinny diseased cat that wouldn’t leave us alone at lunch. It kept looking at me with the biggest saddest eyes and I couldn’t handle it. But we didn’t want to touch it because it seriously had something going on. We hiked so far because where we had hoped to camp ended up being a weird rundown town so we kept going to Knin and got an apartment to stay in. We had to stay for the next day so I could try and buy some new shoes, and to resupply. One thing I’m learning here is to never trust booking.com. Numerous times we have purchased a room and it wasn’t what was described. We have left a place before because of it. This place seemed so nice. 24 hour reception where they spoke English, WiFi in all rooms, flat screen TVs, continental breakfast. We get there no English, the tv was not much bigger than an IPad screen and didn’t even work. The WiFi barely worked. But it’s just what it is I guess. Luckily the breakfast was amazing! Just a huge basket of homemade bread, cheese, and jelly. I found some new running shoes for $30. They’re not the best but better than shoes with no sole on them. Then we left to summit Dinara, the highest mountain in Croatia. Which isn’t very high actually just, 1831m. I saw a turtle on its back on the way, flipped it over to help it get going again. So random to see a turtle in the forest? But the climb was fun, the sign said it’d take 2.5hrs and it took me less than 1.5. I love racing those things! The view from the top was great, but the descent is where the magic happened. Just endless beauty surrounding me with mountain ranges of endless stripes of rocks, meadows, and grass fields. Leading down, down, down, to a shelter for Shepard’s. Where I saw one with his sheep, what a beautiful job! We passed a fresh flowing pipe spring, extremely rare here, and a midevil fortress before reaching out campsite. It was perfect until a family of 4 came which created a lot of noise through the night and in the morning, but overall a good day. Different muscles are definitely working now that I don’t have barefoot style shoes. Different things are feeling tweaky and sore, shin splints are returning and my back hurts a bit, but no blisters! The next day with a foggy mind we began more road walking. We took a wrong turn and added over a mile pretty early on. But then we met 2 kind people. One woman who offered us a ride to a bigger town, as we thought there was a store in this town, but it had apparently closed down. So all day all I ate was peanuts, peanut butter, and sunflower seeds as it’s all I had. Then we met Ivan, the local medicine man. He was so excited to chat with us. And was showing us plants he uses to make tea for high blood pressure, or about making soap, and being able to cure any disease in 15 days. He offered us a place to stay, Food, and wine from his vineyard, but it was only 10am so we declined. Luckily, I got his info and am hoping to reach out and maybe come back and learn from him for a week or 2. We got to eat lunch at a beautiful lake. Perfect temperature water. It was just the best! Then we quickly headed to Rumin where there was a store and camped by the river. 

Its now been over a month since leaving home. And somehow that feels impossible, it’s had to have been at least a year. That’s how far away it all seems. We had a huge day today. We hit many mile stones. 1) 10 by 10! Our first of the trail. That’s 10 miles by 10am. 2) 30+ mile day, we did 33. 3) first time getting to use the bucket and rope Meg has been carrying to get water from a deep well. 4) our first walk on an actual Pilgrimage trail, Our Lady of Sinj (training for Camino!) 5) we officially left Croatia and are now in Bosnia! We are over half way through the trail. 6) we finally experienced some real Croatian hospitality. After a quick water break at the Cetina river a man said something to us, after Meg explained we didn’t understand he gestured a drink. Thankfully, Meg being way more chill than me who just wants to keep walking since we just took a break, said yes. It turned into one of the most genuine acts of kindness I’ve ever received. These women took us to their porch. They brought us OJ with sparkling water and cookies, followed by Turkish coffee and a huge feast. All Homemade. Cheese, bread, tomato, prosciutto, pancetta, OMG it was so unreal.  And when we left they picked us a bunch of plums from their tree and gave them to us. For no reason except to give. It literally makes my heart melt. Crossing the border was interesting. Standing in a large line of cars. We finished the day to Busko lake. It’s beautiful but has been storming since we got here. A bummer as we are taking a trail 0 day, and expected to get to swim and lay in the sun. Instead we are just sleeping off and on hanging out in our tents. Oh Bosnia, I can’t wait to see what adventures you bring to us. 

Rocky road….and no not the delicious ice cream

The days here are rocky…..like literally just rocks. My feet are really beginning to hurt since I just have barefoot style shoes, and half of the sole on my right shoe isn’t even attached. Thank goodness for duct tape! The day started with a nice summit of Baske Ostarije before choosing another, attractive looking mountain. Bosnian was beautiful, the views just epic. We have been summiting so many mountains, some not so great, and a lot of the views are similar. So it was fun to branch off and just try one out and still get a good reward for the effort. The hut at Baske Ostarije was the best! They have a killer restaurant where I got to enjoy the best meal I’ve had since leaving the states. Homemade bread, with 3 perfectly fried eggs, and a big platter of vegetables. I was in heaven! And it was only $5! We stayed pretty long as I tried to figure out where and how to send myself new shoes. Fingers crossed that it even works! After which we headed out and up. As per usual, always up! And overgrown with downed trees. But I’m to where it doesn’t frustrate me anymore, it’s just how the trails are here. They’re not going to change, I can only change my attitude about them. While hiking through the forest at our approach to another summit Meg realized her water bottle was missing. Potentially it fell out while climbing over logs. We had a good stretch without water and we both had only packed just enough to get to the next source. So now my rationed source for 1 person, became rationed for 2. So we skipped the summit as our new goal was just to get to the hut with water. It was super hot and we had a ton of climbing so we were sweating a lot. Then a bear! I heard a noise thinking Megan was falling and yelled back asking if she was ok. I just heard “oh god” and saw something fall down the slope. I started running back and heard her yell “it’s a bear, it’s a bear”. So I stopped running and saw it bolting up the hill. It came towards her on the trail as she hid behind the tree and yelled, it chose to reroute up the mountain. Thankfully, they’re usually far more afraid of us than we are of them. It got the adrenaline pumping as we headed towards water. 3 hours of hiking in heat with just over half a liter between 2 people isn’t the most ideal situation. Getting to the hut was so hard. My legs were so heavy and achey. I had nothing left. At times I couldn’t take 20 steps without stopping and hunching onto my trekking poles forcing them to keep me up. Then it was there. The Sugarska hut. Filled with rain water, solar panels, and an epic view. The perfect tiny home I can only wish to live in someday. Water has never tasted so good. I think we each drank 3 liters that night and didn’t have to go to the bathroom. The dehydration stayed a good chunk of the following day also leaving my legs weak. We had a perfect clear sky summiting Veliki Stolac, offering more views of the Adriatic. Spoiling us with her endless beauty. Later I also climbed Debeli Kuk, while Meg skipped due to fatigue. I felt like death, but in the end I was so grateful to do it as it was one of my favorite views yet. Maybe I just appreciated it because I worked so hard to get to it. We lunched at Tatekova hut where we met a few nice gentlemen who were out for a few days. One of which helped build the equipment needed for the Little Rock obstacle course, Polje, we were about to go on. These huts are so cool! It’s like you can literally have your house in the city, on the beach, or where ever, but have a free house in the mountains. It’s so legit! I missed the intersection for Polje by over half a mile and had to run back to meet Meg to go through it. It was fun, but not as epic as the first going. I kind of like the adrenaline now of the high rocks and scooting along sketchy things. The trail then became my favorite yet. I realize I’ve said that many times, but I never know what the next day will bring so new favorites are sure to arise! But we got to hike through this beautiful vast valley. Filled with so much life just singing me along as I walked. We had one last climb to Struge which we prepared for at the church and ended up being epically awesome. The views during the climb were better than I could have ever imagined. And it made the climb seem not so bad. And at the top I met Tortus! A 2016 PCT hiker from Oregon! Is PCT vets sure get the thru hiking itch after the trail I guess. So fun to connect with him, and Mike, from Israel, who is our rock climbing. Fun fact: Paklenica National Park, where we are, is one of the most well known places to rock climb in Croatia. This night kept being great by offering a great campsite next to water, a rare treat. And no clouds which made for a perfect stargazing evening. The next day we hiked our longest yet. Almost 28 miles! Which is pretty epic for these trails and this terrain. And does include a 3 mile mishap in the evening. Luckily, I am re-hydrated and feeling myself again which allowed me to bust up the mountain quickly. While waiting for Meg at a junction I met Mia, a local who was super kind and gave me 2 bags of trail mix! Which I feel like only thru hikers can really appreciate what that means. We created our own route to avoid some mine areas, which we have already passed some and will enter more. So we climbed Sveto Brdo and headed over the top down to some water. The “spring” water here is so funny. It’s all just in wells. Nothing is flowing. The hike all day was again just beautiful. The scenery has been spoiling us since leaving Senj. Then the long long stretch of a rocky forest road became our life. I think we did about 13-15 miles on it. We thought we were taking a short cut, which ended up being false. Apparently there’s some epic tunnel systems here, and on the map it looks like our trail will cross the road, but we just walk over it and it’s well below us. Super frustrating but what can you do? Towards the end of the night I started having my first break down. My feet were on fire and every step was super painful. I kept getting slower and slower trying not to cry. At one point I got to Meg who was taking a break and I just collapsed. Really wishing I had different shoes at the moment. But we trudged on, and adding an extra layer with double socks helped too. We met a guy and girl who were out hunting bears. They approached us gun in hand, and were super friendly guiding us towards a safe campsite. As we were about to camp in the field where they were hunting. I had a funny slo-mo fall which helped make us laugh and bring good energy. We had cups full of berries for the second day in a row which has been AMAZING for our pb&j’s. We may not pack a lot of food, but we know we won’t starve out here. There’s so many raspberries! Either way we’re both losing a lot of weight out here. Barely eating around maybe 1200cals a day and burning 5-6,000 easily. It’s like we’re eating just enough to survive, but not much more. 

Final day of the stretch was nothing super interesting. More berry picking, as it’s become a usual 15 min of our day. We were excited to hit the little Prince trail, which we were told was the most beautiful trail in Croatia. After hanging at the hut we took off, only to not be overly impressed. It was fun to have a playground and rock climb and stuff, but we have been tainted by all the beauty we’ve seen. Making us quite hard to please. So as soon as we could we got out and headed to town. We’re currently in Gracac, which at first seemed like a run down and creepy town. Until we found the perfect place to stay, where our host took us to his house for laundry and fed us some fresh fruit cake from his wife. He got us wine and made us try the famous homemade Croatian Whiskey. Which was……interesting. It has been so nice to have such good hospitality. I am so appreciative for being able to experience it. 

Velebit National Park

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. 

Dear God someone hold me!

The struggle of towns and resupply is big on this trip. We don’t know what any town will really have and sometimes we have to just really hope they have a market as we’re out of food. Because Lic didn’t have anything we could resupply with we walked a couple extra miles on the road to Fuzine to resupply and grab some food to eat. Croatia is still just so bazar to me. No restaurants, very very limited markets, and the choices at the markets are even more limited. As a tourist in the moment it sucks, but as a way of life it’s totally what I want some day. These people live off of their own gardens and the land around them and what it provides. It’s so beautiful and amazing, but sucks as a hiker. Leaving town we met 3 men who were doing a Pilgrimage in Croatia. The Priest was with them and they were all super kind and we took a picture together. It was a small moment that meant a lot. Just to be with others who were doing something similar after feeling so alone out here was nice. We got to summit Bitoraja from the town of Vrata. Another mountain with some amazing sea views. I can’t believe how close we are to it! On our way down to Celimbasa, where we planned and hope to find camp, we saw multiple bear prints and some poop. The road was quite muddy, and looked exactly like Nutella, so the prints were very noticeable. Knowing they were near we knew we shouldn’t be quiet so we don’t frighten them, and nature just helped us with that automatically. All the sudden the decent mud turned into thick quick sand mud. With each step all the sudden we could no longer see our feet and the mud was creating a suction which made it hard to get our feet out. It was so hysterical. We were laughing so hard knowing there wasn’t anything we could do so we just kept going. The mud was all in my shoes and all over my legs. That night we slept in more tall grass, but had a beautiful sunset. The next morning helped me clean up as we got to walk through what I call natures car wash. Tall plants overgrown on the trail that were wet from the rain clean you up real quick. This morning was really foggy and we got to walk on a beautiful forest road through a meadow. I felt for a moment like I was on vacation. Just taking a morning stroll, which I guess is technically what I’m doing. The mellowness of the meadow and road lasted a couple of hours before the most adventure I ever had on dry trail began. We summoned Samarski Stijena, Stijena means rocks, first. These mountains are covered near the top with large white karst rocks that shoot up towards the sky.  Beautiful for sure. Comments from other hikers let us know it would be challenging but rewarding, I guess we just didn’t really get what that meant. Soon we were doing a lot of rock scrambling which is super fun. That soon because more of a rock climbing journey. Then trying to pass through super small cracks with packs on. Getting stuck. Then having to toss our packs down rocks and climb down. It doesn’t help that the pack is in the way but it also throws your balance off a bit, you may start falling forward when you really don’t want to be. I don’t like heights. They terrify me. So today I had to face those fears quite a bit. We’d follow the trail markers and I’d walk up and just see a straight drop down with the only path being to find little places in the rocks to grip with your fingers and place your feet as you slowly descend. There were ladders in a couple places. One hovering above the ground only being held up by some twisted wire. There was at times also stakes to climb up the rock with leading onto the next rock mountain of, Bijela Stijene. As well as wires to hold onto as you just walked along the side of ridges. Here is a quote from the VD Alliance about what we went through “The site of Bijele stijene is also a genuine gallery of karst forms: everywhere around, there are numerous, vertical, white, approximately fifty meters high pointed rocks in the terrain, with deep impassable sinkholes and swallow holes hidden in between”. So it was a fun, stressful time. Even though I was scared during parts it was my favorite day so far. And the views were pretty epic. Meg and I laughed when we checked the trail registry and saw what other hikers had written about the trail. “Dear God, someone hold me” and “whoever created this trail deserves either an award or a jail sentence.”  Those 2 were my favorite. It made me more interested in rock climbing though, just preferably prepared for it and without a pack on. 

The next day just started with me falling more. I ended up just walking barefoot. My shoes keep no traction on the mud and wet rocks, which is all the trail seems to be since it rains every night. Luckily my pack braces my fall for me a bit. The biggest deal with this day was just continuously getting off trail. The gps would show us on trail then a bit later we’d check and we’d be way off. Missing some random bit of overgrown trail we were supposed to get onto. I feel more attached to my phone now than I ever have. We always have to be staring at our GPS to try to not backtrack over and over again. It won’t have main roads on the maps, but super old roads nobody has used in years. I get anxiety whenever one of us is checking the maps not knowing if we just walked up the big hill for no reason or not, most typically it was for no reason. Just confusing. I have come to the conclusion that Croatia and I have an unhealthy relationship. You know, those relationships where 85% of it is total shit and you don’t like it, but there’s that small 15% of hope that keeps you hanging on. That’s it. I see great views and forget about all the shit it took to get there and all the shit that will come after it. I definitely don’t want to quit, my ego is too big for that. But I don’t really like this “trail” so far. But I think we’re going to continue learning and getting the hang of things and will be able to make it special to us. We got to have lunch at a sweet hut built into some cliffs, before more bad trail. But then we took a fire road instead of trail into Krvi Put which was so perfect. We were walking along the lower part of green pastures along the mountains with windmills and the sea just down the hill beside us. Idk why the trail wouldn’t just take this amazing route. 

The nights on trail have also been interesting. Not just the consistent thunder storms, but all of the wild boars. It seems anytime we’re in the forest we hear them walking around the whole night. Luckily they never bother us, and I think I’m used to them now. Once I realize it’s not a bear I just go back to sleep. But what seems to frighten me most is how many gun shots we hear. Assuming it’s hunters hunting the boars. But it’s kind of sketch as we don’t want to be camping in the “fire zone.” We will be fine though, it’s just funny how your mind can freak you out so much. 

Currently we’re in Senj on the coast. Spending a couple days relaxing in the water and watching Croatia play in the World Cup finals. We don’t want to miss the opportunity to be here in a town if they win! And it’s nice to be off the trail actually feeling like we’re in Croatia on vacation. 

Broken bottles,a Stage 5 Clinger, and National Park Risnjak

F22956AD-D4D5-4F8B-AC74-CDFCD05581E0EEDE33F6-02B1-4349-A71D-20001E9E3FBFE90BD412-5379-4785-B533-4CC63A331A77E18B1032-564E-48B5-A442-A73810EA42910C24F542-6587-49B1-99BC-AC3FEE7D9F064B063634-3C73-403C-BD5E-F565BCE3E8B97FF80E73-178C-4F05-9371-36494B0593C02C0526AA-C2B6-4FBA-90C3-D8FA455FEEF000ADB0DC-45CD-453F-BB73-A01F9030A820C7227828-9F83-488C-A87C-83398F7C0C7ARight away Croatia hit us with its tricky tactics. Having us shoot up the side on a mountain to go to the top, which had no views. And ironically the name of the mountain means “good views”. They’re full of shit over here. The dynamic is different now, just me and Meg. And I really enjoy it. Not that I didn’t enjoy the time with the guys, because it was the greatest! But things are just easier with 2 people and we get to connect more. The section before Cabar was interesting. Lots of bushwacking, always lots of stinging nettles, thorns, downed trees, and logs everywhere. The trail would make us go up just to go right back down again. I can never guess what this trail will have us do, every time I think I figured it out it shows me I know nothing. Cabar was great, after getting some food from the market, because restaurants literally don’t exist in any of these towns, we went to the bar to charge our phones, eat, and hang. Ended up meeting a man who claims to be the Mayor of the town. He was super kind and telling us all these places we should go and see, and about his adventures. When he was 20 he walked from Croatia to Egypt! That is so insane! And then he bought us a beer and we learned how to say Cheers, but idk how to spell it. Before the town of Trsce we set up camp in some super tall grass that almost covered our tents making us incognito to the locals. I slept so amazing though, like better than I have in months. And it was nice to know we just had a couple mile walk into town and that was it for the day. When we got to Trsce nothing was open except for the bar where people just sit and smoke endless amounts of cigarettes and were already drinking at 8am. While there and after no breakfast and some espresso we were randomly asked if these people could take our blood pressure and blood sugar numbers. We did and laughed when our blood pressure was way higher than usual due to the caffeine and no food, but just how random? Got a place to stay for $12 at Apartment David. The woman who greeted us, David’s mom, was so sweet and kind and offered to do laundry for us. It was a cute place and we were stoked to be in town for the Croatia game as we really want to watch it with some locals. What started out as such a nice experience quickly became a bit weird. After some weird interaction with the woman across the street for food David insisted we walk to the market and get food for his mom to make us pizza. I swear I will hate pizza by the time this is over. It’s all anyone eats. David decided to come with us to watch the game and we went into the bar with the most people because we guessed it’d be more fun. But when Croatia scored their goal someone threw a beer bottle at our table which hit and shattered our beer bottles and our glasses. Glass hit my mouth, face, cut my knee, got stuck in my feet and we got beer all over us. But nobody said or did anything, ever. No apologies no are you ok, just nothing like it never happened. I was pissed, sad by humans who can just not care at all, and over it. Shortly after David started hitting on Megan and just wouldn’t let it go. It was so annoying. And when we got back to the apartment he kept trying to stick around even though we told him bye numerous times. Then when I was outside talking on the phone he kept coming and just standing by the door wanting to show Megan a pillow he made. It was just super super creepy. And we both had the same nightmares of him being right outside of our window while we were sleeping. Definitely never going back to Trsce again. It’s pronounced like Tursa so we now call is Tursa Cursa. Never going back!! 

We happily and in a hurry left Trsce to head back out onto trail. Now it seems easier to laugh about what a weird experience we had in that town. Croatia just keeps us on our toes that’s for sure. We got to visit a nice church called Sveta Gora, which had a beautiful view, before road walking down towards Hrib. It’s hard to explain this trail, or lack there of. It’s obvious that the alliance who created it had never actually hiked it and just used maps with old trails to create where they’re sending us because a majority of the time it’s just a massive overgrown tree-downed area. Luckily, other hikers who have previously attempted these spots have let us know what to avoid so we are doing more road walking to avoid getting more cut and bruised up. Our poor legs are covered with cuts, scrapes, bumps, and bruises. Although we try to avoid as much bushwhacking and crazy unnecessary trail walking it doesn’t always happen. And we had a pretty good bushwhack into Hrib. Where I actually fell from a rock sliding out from under me. Nothing hurt but it’s always scary to fall steep ground because you don’t know how long you will fall for, luckily I didn’t fall for long before stopping. This stage got amazing by entering us into the National Park where we got to see Izvaka Kupa Lake and River. I have never seen a lake so blue. It was like a fairyland. I loved it. I didn’t jump in which I’m still sad about but it was cold outside so I worried I wouldn’t be able to warm up, little did I know we had a big uphill which would have done the trick. It was magical entering the NP, greeted by a man named Josip who hosts visitors and seemed super sweet. The luxury of trail and beautiful views soon left us as we had to walk 8.5 miles on the road. It starts to wear us down mentally for sure. It gets so boring and all you’re left with are your thoughts, which is rarely a good time. By the time we hit Crni Lug we were done, and thankfully the universe helped us out a bit. Meg walked into a bar as I looked at a map, to see if anyone knew of where we could stay for the night. And right away a man started calling around, found us a spot and before we knew it we were freshly showered and laying in warm comfy beds. The day we got to spend within the NP was great! To be able to hike on a well maintained trail was absolutely marvelous. I miss it! The uphill was pretty big and for some reason this morning I can’t seem to escape my thoughts at all. It’s multiple hours to the top of the peak and my brain just never slows down. It drove me insane. There is definitely no escaping yourself out here. I can’t listen to music or a podcast because my phone will die too quickly since we have to use the GPS so much. Just no distractions, just you with you. And sometimes it sucks, like today did. I did my best to not get frustrated and just be at peace with the thoughts. I just realize I try to control way to much and it’s making me exhausted. So I’m going to just do my best to let go of that need for control and just go with the flow. The view from the top was the best so far. We could see the sea not far away from us, then an ocean of endless mountains on the other side. The best part of this day was before we left the hut, and a fox came and hung around. I’ve always wanted to see one and it was so perfect. I desperately wanted to pet it and it took everything I had to not do so. The day became more magical as we went. We got our first dose of trail magic from a stranger on the road. He gave Meg part of his sandwich and me a really spicy pepper! Yay! Summiting Tubobic with more views of the sea around us, and leaving on a prairie filled of flowers before descending on an overgrown old forest road. We got another amazing act of kindness today when we asked a man for water as we were out and there was no place to get any, he and his wife spoke 0 English, but brought us out some fresh homemade cherry juice they made. They make their own cherry syrup. It was delicious and so so kind of them. It’s so much of what I miss on the PCT, people just doing nice things for no reason at all. I am so happy we finally got to experience it here. 

 

 

End of Stage 1: Slovenia

The last few days have gone from exciting with nice views to horribly long road walks that are completely unnecessary.  But the trail took it easier on us these two days. Some small uphills and downhills, but nothing like we have been experiencing. We saw an old bunker and walked through it for awhile laughing at how freaked out we all were just walking underground in the dark. You know nothings going to happen, but that fear is always there. The bunker was built between the two world wars as an Italian border control. It used to span 15km, but now only 1.5km isn’t cemented so you can walk through that bit. It was really cool. There was also another really awesome cave today. There was water flowing heavily through it with lots of moss and greenery surrounding just outside the cave with a nice bridge. We saw another castle, Haasberg Castle. Which apparently means Bunny Mountain Castle I think it was. Not near as cool as the Predjama Castle. The hiking lately changes consistently. The other day was a lot of forests, nice gravel roads and trail sighting more wildflowers, animals, and passing through many towns. In Cerknica where we stopped to resupply and grab lunch, I totally embarrassed myself. I went to the wrong bathroom, I went to the kitchens bathroom. And the guy says “I think you have lost your way, that’s the wrong bathroom.” It was funny, but what then made it worse is I went to plug in our phones to charge and it cut out the electricity. I felt horrible but luckily the guy was super kind and just laughed and helped me out. We hiked to the top of Slivnica where we camped at a local hut that is currently closed…but in the middle of the night we were awakened by a not so happy Slovenian woman who was wanting to know what we were doing there. She was irritated and we kept apologizing and offered to leave but luckily she let us stay. Camping is rough because not only are there no campsites, it’s apparently illegal to camp in general. So we need to try and be more stealthy to not get ourselves into trouble. The next day was just endless road walking. It was the worst. My body hurt more on this day than 35+ mile days on the PCT. My feet are super sore and my joints achy. And it’s just boring. And there were road walks both days that were completely unnecessary. It took us to no special sights or anything just way around right where we were going to end up. So instead of heading just a few miles straight into a town we’d loop around sometimes adding 6+ miles to the walk. We made sure to find a town with a restaurant to watch the Sweden v Switzerland World Cup game since Stats is Swiss and Simon Swedish we had a real battle on our hands! We followed a boot trail and Jesus trail markers to a beautiful lake where we got to swim and do some laundry before somehow getting lucky enough to actually find a restaurant with food, tv, and WiFi. It was a total win! So far I don’t understand this trail and it’s purpose all the time. But I’m definitely enjoying it. Thanks to the people and all of the flowers, and most importantly adorable amazing animals we get to see so much of. We even had a dog come along with us for a short bit. I tried to keep him, but it didn’t work out. Stats left us the following day after we took a tour of Sneznik Castle. It was said to say goodbye. The climate here is very tropical like,m. Extremely humid causing us to just always be sweaty, even at night which is uncomfortable. I’m cold yet hot and sweaty and it’s just making us smell horrible. And it’s been storming on us a majority of the nights. So no star gazing. The other night the storm was super crazy the thunder super loud and the lightning was so consistent I have never seen the sky light up that much. It was cool to lay in my tent and watch the show! The last day of stage 1 we stopped and ate some eggs at a Sviscaki mountain lodge before heading up to summit Mt. Sneznik which is the tallest Slovenia mountain outside of the Alps. We met a cool couple there who was saw later on the mountain, the woman used to live in San Fran and we talked about how beautiful of a place NorCal is. It wasn’t a hard summit. The sign at the bottom said 2 hours and I always like to race those, so I did it in an hour and 20 min. The view from the top was outstanding. Slovenia on one side and Croatia on the other. It was the perfect place to sit and have lunch with friends before the steep downhill. More beauty followed the peak as we raced, or shall I say slugged, down the steep peak on rocks that soon turned into an alternating pattern of beautiful forests and green pastures. And pine bushes that liked to throw me and my pack around like I’m inside a pinball machine. Every break we have to stop and do tick checks, and they seem to definitely love on Simon. I’ve had no issues but we’re going through so much talk brush you never know. The last bit of the stage was nothing great. More boring road walking mainly on logging roads, which I hate saying because I’m in Europe doing something so special but the monotony of the road walks just get to me. Time ticks by so slowly. The only interesting part was getting to maneuver around a lot of downed trees. Always interesting with a pack on. Climbing up and over, going under somehow, walking around, walking along tree to tree to get across. It slows you down, but makes the trail a fun obstacle course. The following morning we hiked the few KM to Babno Polje where we said goodbye to Slovenia and soon Simon as we walked across the border to our next country, Croatia. 

 

REUNION!

Day 2: 7/1

It was freezing last night. Actually below freezing I’m sure and it rained on us most of the night with high winds. The cold makes packing up and getting going even harder so we were pretty slow this morning. Luckily the morning began as a nice long descent into where we were meeting Stats, at the Predjama Castle. It took us just under 3 hours to get down there with a couple of breaks happening. We stopped and snacked at a nice big field covered in wild flowers watching the suns rays beat down onto the earth. I have never seen so many wild flowers, and so many different species of them in my life. It’s mesmerizing. I can’t stop talking about how beautiful it is here. Every view we get is so special. Slovenia is definitely one of the most beautiful places I have ever been, if not the most. The homes are so intricate and all of them have flowers all over. The greenery and fresh berries all around is just heavenly. I got to snack on a lot of raspberries and the best wild strawberries ever today! The strawberries tasted like candy I couldn’t stop picking them. And apparently, around here and other parts of Europe hazelnuts grow all over. We found some but they aren’t ready to go yet. It would be so cool to have a point where I don’t have to really carry food and can just eat from the trail! At 10:30am on the dot, as planned, we arrived at Predjama Castle. It is over 700 years old and perched on a 123 meter cliff. It is worth seeing I promise you that! We didn’t even go inside and it didn’t matter. It was so cool! We found Stats right away his hair is a little longer, but he looks just the same! It’s the greatest to be back with my trail family. It feels like we were never actually apart. After lunch and some nice salads we headed out, knowing we had some good climbing ahead of us. And it didn’t disappoint as per usual on this trail. The PCT spoiled us with its 15% grades, and now we’re on a trail that just wants to shoot us right up and straight down the mountains. It’s sweaty, hard, and super fun. I realized how much I like this kind of hiking. Work hard then get rewarded by amazing views and hang for a bit before doing it over and over again. So far another thing I love about this trail is that it isn’t all perfectly set out for us. I enjoy hiking in the tall grass and through the wild flowers feeling like I’m just as much a part of this land as they are. It’s freeing. At the top of the first big peak there was a trail registry I was super stoked to sign. It’s been too long since I’ve gotten to sign one, and since I have seen these other beautiful peoples names alongside mine. After hanging for a bit and eating snacks, as the hiker hunger is kicking in, we headed down the mountain a bit just to go right back up another one. And then another one. But luckily that was the last one. Then the trail mellows out for a nice downhill that led us past a fancy hut, a church, and down to another church, Sveta Marija, where we are set camping for the evening. I realized today how much a trail and these people feel like home to me. It just feels normal and like I’m exactly where I’m meant to be. I love being able to chat with them over dinner talking about any and all things and hanging in our tents talking even more. It doesn’t take much to entertain you on these trails, and it’s that simplicity of life I appreciate so much about it.

 

Trieste-Muggio-Via Alpina- Day 1 of Via Dinarica

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.