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Published: June 17th 2011
Day 27 & 28, 16th & 17th June Lepena
Day 27 Assault on Mount Krn
We set off early and start our hike uphill at 700m. The Triglav National Park itineraries are simply marked by a red circle painted on rocks and trees along the way and therefore with the aid of a map navigation is reasonably simple. The terrain is rocky and the Dolomitic white limestone rocks scatter the ground beneath the beech and spruce trees. It is as if God has thrown a handful of large white boulders down the pathway, scattering them and breaking them up on the way. As a result of these boulders and shingle the going is pretty tough – apart from the uphill we had to concentrate on where to put our feet! Rest assured, dear reader, we were pretty well equipped and had decent walking shoes, rucksack with waterproofs, food, water, home-made beech walking sticks and the map. It was a LONG way up but in spite of the rough terrain it was a great climb affording some spectacular long ranging views down the valley. We are not really walkers and so were pretty pleased when we arrived at the first
summit (1400m) some 2.5 hours later.
The second of the Mountaineering Society’s mountain huts is a little drop down from the summit at 1385m and sits in a shady glade. Above the bar are lots of First World War artefacts from the Soca Front (otherwise known as the Isonzo Front) for it is up here that the Italians took up position and the front line ran along the top of Mount Krn at 2244m. Amongst the artefacts are gun shells and it is extremely sobering to think that many men lived and fought at this altitude and higher. The Italians occupied the Mount Krn front line for some 29 months but it was a war of attrition and territorial gains were minimal in spite of the horrific and bloody battles. The war moved down the mountain in 1917 where the Austo-Hungarians and the Germans routed the Italian Army – this Italian retreat is described in Hemingway’s ‘A Farewell to Arms’ as he himself was wounded on the battlefield while driving an Italian ambulance.
The scenery belies the history.
Take a short walk, for it is now a verdant alpine plateau, from the
mountain hut and you come across a farm – yes, a farm! It turns out the farmer has a farm downhill and one uphill at 1385m. He and his animals winter in the valley and summer in the mountains – there are 8 cattle (yup, complete with bells), 70 sheep, 2 pigs and a flock of chickens. Twice a day he hand milks the cows and makes 4 truckles of cheese. The cheese is made in the most ‘interesting’ of conditions with absolutely no regard for health regs and, no doubt because of this, it is utterly delicious. We laugh as we struggle to communicate with him and buy some of his cheese – he is stocking up for the main tourist months of July and August when no doubt he will earn his whole annual income.
Beyond the farm and up again you reach the highest mountain lake in Slovenia. The water is icy clear and if you dip your aching feet in the edges of the lake hundreds of little fish zoom in for a nibble – this ‘foot spa treatment’ is now all the rage in UK high streets, there is even one in Shrewsbury
– but nothing, no nothing, beats this high altitude freezing cold nibbly foot spa! From this beautiful lake you can take another 2.5 hour hike up to Mount Krn where there is another hut. Regrettably not for us, but perhaps another day, another year, we will do it and stay on the mountain for the night. We do however decide to walk just a little further and up another crag to reach the remains of the snow, still there in a north facing gully. We have reached 1500m.
After a full blown carbohydrate experience at the mountain hut we head down – it takes 2 hours. We have left our bikes at 700m by the mountain hut. We mount and whizz downhill to 500m where our hosts feed us with river trout and Slovenian wine. What a day!
Day 28 Lepena
We are remarkably unscathed by our day on the mountains and proclaim that we must be fitter than we think we are!
Day 28 has been our admin day – washing, drying, cleaning, fixing and deciding where we go next. We love it here and want to stay but we are 4
weeks in and still want to see other countries and have other experiences. We plan to take Big Bess up and over the Triglav pass (45 hair pins going up and 50 hair pins coming down) and explore another part of Slovenia.
Postscript: I am aware that the last few blogs have been, perhaps to some, fairly boring – rather full of history and less full of antics – but please bear with me and remember that this is written as our diary as much as it is to keep you, our wonderful family and friends, up to date. Thanks. X
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