We’ve returned triumphant from our big trek! We were able to summit Mt. Triglav, the highest peak in Slovenia (2864 m).
We left Lake Bohinj on Tuesday morning, covering the first two thousand feet by car. We parked the vans and set out in a light drizzle. The damp earth quieted our footsteps as we climbed through dense forests.
After a couple hours, the trees thinned and we entered a large pasture with ten cabins and roaming livestock. We carefully picked our way through manure piles to a cabin sitting on the edge of the field. Smoke curled from its chimney and picnic tables invited us to sit. A woman came out of the house and offered us cheese, which she made in one of the adjacent cabins. During the summer, her family brings their cows to graze in the alpine meadows. They milk the cows every morning and make cheese from the milk every third day. She gave us a tour of the cheese-making room, explaining each step of the process. Everything is done by hand, and the family powers most of the operation through solar. We marveled at the man-power required to make a kilo of cheese.
Our bellies full of cheese (or “sir” in Slovenian), we continued our journey upwards, the trail becoming steeper and steeper until we eventually reached the top of the pass. The trail then descended sharply down loose rock and lingering patches of snow. The fog persisted all day, never allowing us a view of the Julian Alps. We reached our hut around five, fully exhausted from a long, wet day in the mountains. The clouds briefly parted, and we were offered a view of our objective, Triglav, tall and imposing in the distance. Hot stews, pasta bolognese, thick bread,and marmalade pancakes were served and students fell asleep as the sun set.
The next morning we set out for Planika Dom, our hut for the night, and also our “base camp” for Triglav. “Planika” means edelweiss in Sovenian, and we saw the white wild flowers growing on the sides of the trail, along with plenty of sheep. Fog and rain followed us up the winding path, and we doubted our ability to summit as planned. We shed wet layers and backpacks at Planika Dom, unsure what the weather would bring. After some deliberation, we decided to push for the summit. The rain had miraculously stopped, and clouds began to part as we traveled along the via ferrata. We steadily climbed iron rungs and handrails as the sun peaked out for the first time in days. We summited in full sunshine, taking in the weight of our accomplishment and incredible vistas. We celebrated with chocolate at the top, a special addition to our typical lunch of sausage, crackers, and cheese.
We returned to Planika Dom, buzzing with energy from our accomplishment. We spent the afternoon enjoying the sunshine: students built cairns, read, and played countless rounds of Uno. After dinner, we were treated to the sight of ibex moving across the mountains. The sky was still clear and we watched the ibex pick their way down impossibly steep slopes as the mountains bathed in alpenglow. It was a terrific day.
On Thursday, we started our descent. We crossed snow fields and passed a series of seven aquamarine glacial lakes. The sun continued to accompany us along our journey, and we made it to our final hut of the trip without incident. We started early on Friday morning, hiking to a final hut for breakfast before saying goodbye to the mountains. We reached the vans by mid-morning: we were smelly, wet, muddy, and tired, and ready for the beach.