Daily Miles: 18
Total Miles: 45
It rained overnight and was still raining as we got up this morning. We tried to get to breakfast a few minutes early, so that we could start a few minutes earlier today. Breakfast today was a personal pot of Turkish coffee, tea, fried eggs and bread with various toppings. Similar to yesterday, we made sandwiches out of the leftover bread and meats.
We heard that the hut was closing today for the rest of the season to do renovations, so we felt extra lucky to have been able to stay there last night. By the time we headed out just before 9am, the rain had turned to just mist. It was cool out and it felt good to walk in our windshirts.
On the way to our first hut (and first stamp) of the day, we came across a small A-frame shelter. It is now used as an emergency shelter, but it was originally built for workers who made charcoal up in the hills. It was a pretty cool building with a roof made of bark.
We got to our first hut of the day after about an hour and a half. We got the stamp for our trail passport and then headed straight up a ski run. In our first three days on trail so far, we have walked by or through five different ski resorts. It was definitely a good climb and we got nice views into a nearby valley that was shrouded in clouds.
After the ski hill, we had a lot of downhill, which can best be described as relentless. Every once in awhile, we would get a break from the steep downhill as we had a small bit of road walking, then we would end up on another steep downhill.
There is quite a lot of signage along the trail for notable spots coming up (most commonly for the huts). The signs never mention the distance…instead it lists an estimated time it will take to reach the point of interest. We are still trying to gauge how our walking compares to the time on the sign. It seems that when we have flat or uphill trail, we take less time than the sign indicates, but with the steep trails downhill, we need more time than listed on the sign.
The first four or five days on the trail for us are in an area considered to be the foothills of the Alps. The trail difficulty is listed as “easy” and therefore we have been trying to do bigger days and bank a few miles. Once we get into the first range of the Alps, the difficulty will become “very difficult” and we will shorten our days drastically. We are looking forward to the shorter days coming up. The rule with the huts is that you need to arrive by 5pm (or let the hut manager know you will late), otherwise your spot could theoretically be given away. So, we are moving all day to make sure we get our miles hiked in our allotted 8 hours.
We saw several pairs of people out picking blueberries today. We’ve seen unripened blackberries, and ripe raspberries and blueberries along the trail. We stopped once or twice today to pick a few berries. The folks out picking the blueberries seemed to have a small device for picking. We’re not really sure how it works, as we’ve never seen something like it before. The mom we talked with yesterday, Stefanik, takes two weeks off from work each summer to pick wild strawberries. We’re told she can pick as much as 30 pounds in one day! That is so much when think of how small wild strawberries are!
When we got to our second hut of the day, we stopped and talked with a group of guys who were just hanging out at the picnic tables. They seemed to be there for a birthday party that had already finished up…there was a life-sized cutout of the birthday girl in the lawn and they had a birthday tiara on their table. They offered us a beer, but we felt like we needed to keep moving to get to our hut on time.
We continued our descent down into the town of Solvenj Gradec. We kept thinking it was such a nice small town as we walked through. The houses were nice and everyone seemed to have a flower garden, a vegetable garden, and at least a few apple trees. Since we were coming through town on a Sunday, the grocery stores were closed, but we managed to find a small store where we could buy some snacks for the next stretch. We got some cookies and candy bars for the next few days and then got ice cream bars and pastries to eat on the way out of town.
We continued on, walking through neighborhoods and farms on our way out of town. As we started to climb again in elevation, we had nice views of the surrounding countryside…lots of farms divided by dark green forests. It was quite pretty. We even have that view now from our room in the hut.
We arrived at our hut just after 5pm. The manager is a very sweet woman and she even gave us slippers to wear when we arrived. We took showers and then headed downstairs for dinner. It seems that we are the only ones sleeping here tonight. There were several locals guys here for a beer, but no other hikers.
There was only one option for dinner tonight: rice mush with meat (not really sure how else to describe it, but it tasted much better than it looked), with salad and bread. Beardoh discovered Radlers yesterday (beer with grapefruit juice) which is super refreshing. We had a few with dinner which was a treat.
We feel really beat again today after hiking…definitely a good kind of tired. Lots of energy burned, great weather, beautiful scenery…the tiredness is certainly worth it.