When we finished the CDT last year in Glacier National Park, we felt like we were ready for some time without the work of planning a big hike. However, as the winter months went by, SweetPea started to get a bit antsy for a hike this summer. Since this year is SweetPea’s 50th birthday (her birthday is about 2.5 weeks before we start our hike), we wanted to do something special to celebrate this big milestone. So, for her 50th birthday, she got to choose the 2022 “adventure.”
For some unexplained reason, SweetPea has always had a fascination with Croatia and that general area of the world. Knowing that the Croatia National Trail is a longer of a hike than what we wanted to do this year, she widened her search. She had heard of the existence of the Slovenia Mountain Trail (but hadn’t really looked into it) several years ago, so it was on her radar.
The Slovenia Mountain Trail is about 380 miles long, and usually takes a month or more to complete. It starts just outside of the town of Maribor in the north-east of the country. The trail heads due west and then takes a sharp turn and heads due south until it gets to the town of Ankaran on the Adriatic Sea. The terrain seems to vary from dark spruce forests to stark limestone peaks to rolling vineyards. We will hike through the Pohorje Plateau, the Karavanke Range, the Kamnik-Savinja Alps, the Julian Alps and the Dinaric Plateau.
This trail will take us to extremes in a variety of ways…on the one hand, we are expecting some of the trail to be VERY difficult and steep. So steep in fact, that parts of the trail have via ferrata routes, meaning set cables in the rock where we will clip in with harnesses. We have never done anything like this, so it is a bit of an unknown for us. Based on the guidebook we purchased for the hike, there will be many days where we should not expect to be moving more than half a mile per hour! We are expecting to have multiple days under 10 miles (yet taking 10+ hours to complete)…definitely different than every other hike we have done.
On the other end of the extreme nature of the hike, is the fact that this will be a hut-to-hut hike. And, we’re not talking about “shelters” like on the AT…these are full-service huts, where we will be able to get breakfast, dinner, and maybe even a packed lunch! We will be sleeping in the huts each night…even in an actual bed (wild camping is not allowed in Slovenia) and won’t even bother to bring a sleeping bag with us. The pictures of the huts along the route that we have seen really intrigue us…they look like alpine paradise :). Take a look at this Google image search.
The attitude we are taking on this trip can be summed up as “go with the flow.” There are multiple unknowns as we head off on our month of hiking. While, we have created a spreadsheet showing an itinerary of daily mileage and sleeping locations along the SMT, we accept that we might not have enough time to finish the whole Slovenia Mountain Trail (if we have delays due to weather, etc.). In addition, we might find that we just aren’t comfortable with the via ferrata routes and may decide to hike alternative trails. We may even find some of the huts full which would cause us to change our itinerary. Basically, we are keeping our plans as open as possible and the basic idea of “we are hiking in Slovenia” in July/August as our anchor.
Some Slovenia Mountain Trail facts:
- The elevation on the trail ranges from a high of 9,400 feet at the summit of Triglav to a low of 0 feet as the trail ends at the Adriatic Sea.
- It is a point of pride for most Slovenians to climb Mount Triglav at least once in their lifetime.
- There is a “passport” for the trail, where we will accumulate 80 stamps at notable spots along the trail (peaks, huts, etc.).
- The trail has several names in Slovenia: Slovenska planinska pot, the Transverzala and Route 1.
- Like the Appalachian Trail, there are painted markers along the route to follow (the mark looks like a red and white bulls eye with the number 1 next to it).
- A large part of Slovenia is made up of limestone, which is quite porous, so there are not a lot of lakes, streams, and other surface water sources.
One might wonder what we will be carrying if we are sleeping indoors with sheets and blankets and buying cooked meals each day. Well, the answer is not much. We will each be carrying two sets of hiking clothes (a real luxury!), with the thought that we will be able to rinse out our clothes each evening and have a clean, dry set of clothes to wear the next day. We will also have our rain gear, down jackets/hat/gloves, our hammocks (just for lounging in on short days) and of course our via ferrata kit with helmet. So, definitely a light load. We don’t really have large daypacks (which would have been perfect), so we decided to just use our ULA Ohm backpacks, even though they are overkill for this hike.
When we arrive in Slovenia, we will spend a few days in the capital city of Ljubljana. We will hitting a few of the noted outdoor stores there. There are certain pieces of gear that we need to get or replace, and the options in Mexico, where we live, can be pretty minimal or expensive when available. Hopefully we will be able to get over any jet lag during those few days, so that we will be ready to hit the trail.