It was good to turn back from our attempt to reach the summit. Decision making is only taught via experience. Yet failure can be a powerful spark. Thwarted from the summit of Slovenia’s highest mountain, we felt the need to struggle against the mountains, or maybe just ourselves — to strive, fight, and ache. We walked in silence for a time after leaving Dolicu. We each felt the long day calling.
Patches of sun broke through the shifting darks skies, but only on distance peaks. The white patches scrolled across faraway mountains, avoiding our paths. We slowly climbed higher, sometimes holding steel cables as we rounded exposed sections of the path.
Paul is strong. Amazingly so. Physically, he is in great shape, but on the mountain, strength is inferior to mental stamina. Paul can push himself too. He understands the drive required to climb up a steep trail for three hours with only a few breaks. Paul is still learning how fast to hike when he takes his turn leading, but choosing a pace that can be sustained for several hours may take years of hiking to perfect.
When Paul and I had breakfast, we pondered several distant huts. As the day wound on, we became convinced we should walk to the hut near the edge of the map, several hours away. We summed up the remaining trails. If all went well, we could make it to Kovinarksa Koca. Including our relatively short food breaks, it would make for a 10+ hour day.
In our attempt of Triglav, we reached 2500 meters. The hut we were targeting was at about 850 meters, more than a mile straight down.
After 8.5 hours we were exhausted, and beginning to stretch our water supply. I stopped drinking. We started the day with 4 liters. Less than a liter remained. We began to dream of strudel, of a plump Slovenian grandmother holding an enormous platter of apple heaven. Our steps started rhythmically chatting stru-del, stru-del.
Out feet were hot, toes ached, muscles quivered. When we stopped to catch our breath we had “sewing machine leg”. Ten hours had elapsed and we were still not to the hut. We alternated between laughing and silence.
The small hut was welcoming. A road led to town. We had electricity and water. Hot water for the shower cost 2 euro for 3 min, but it was a fantastic deal. We dumped our gear into a small common sleeping room with 3 bunk beds. Our mattress spots were just 8 euro each. We took turns taking showers.
Clean and refreshed we sat outside looking up at the powerful vertical walls towering more than 3000 ft up from our green valley. We started drooling as we imagined the glorious meal were about to gobble up. Our wonderful Slovenian grandmother appeared. After attempting some english and then switching to German, we ordered goulash and wurst mit senf. The picture below can’t begin to describe the wonderful goodness that is hearty meat and gravy meal after a 10 hour day. Wow. The goulash was not some California low-fat organic peppers with spring radish garnish in a tiny cup entree. No. Sparkling orange jewels of fat floated around the bowl. Wonderful lovely fat. Paul and I used two hands to lift the calf-sized chucks of meat from the deep rusty stew. Oh my. The stew included REAL bread. Not the white marshmallow bread we find in the US, but bread so coarse it could be used to sand wood. We tore the bread into chunks and plunged them into our rich reward.
The sausages with mustard were similarly awe inspiring. We sliced them open and watched cubes of melted fat and meat ooze onto the plate. I slathered on the mustard. Even Paul dipped the grilled meat into the yellow-brown garnish. Mmmmmmm
We spoke only to admire the grand meal before us. Wow. I’m salivating just writing about it.
Our only disappointment was that our Slovenian grandmother had not made strudel. She told us the it was only made on weekends. It was Thursday night. No strudel. Paul and I did find that they had ice cream (the wonders of real electricity). We went to bed exhausted, fed, happy, and with bits of goulash and ice cream on our shirts. A perfect day in every way.