Daily Miles: 8
Total Miles: 91
We had a nice stay at the tourist farm. It was good to have our own bathroom with a shower. They even had towels, which felt like a luxury after we have been using our thin 12” x 12” camp towel in the mountain huts. Not that we can complain, though, since we’ve gotten showers at all but one hut.
Breakfast was at 8am and we headed back to the trail at 9am. The tourist farm was fairly close to the trail, which was actually a small road for the first few miles, going deep into the Robanov Valley.
The walking was a gentle slope up and we made good time. As we got closer to the end of the valley, the reality set in that we had nowhere to go but straight up.
We took a break at a waterfall right before the “very difficult” section of the trail started. We filled up with water, had a snack and then started up. Shortly after starting, SweetPea decided she wanted her harness on, so we stopped and she got herself strapped in with the via ferrata kit and also put on her gloves and helmet. Beardoh just went with his gloves, figuring that if he got to a part that felt too sketchy, he could put on his harness.
There was a combination of steel cables attached to the rock with pieces of rebar and steel handles coming out of the rock…both there to give us something to grab onto (or hook into for the cables) as the trail ascended very dramatically. The going was very slow and it was quite exhausting.
We made pretty steady progress, stopping once to get more calories into our bodies. We could tell we weren’t really drinking enough, but it was hard to remember to drink when our hands were both busy pulling us up the trail.
It took us about two and a half hours to get through the very difficult section and it felt a lot longer than that. But we were happy that we kept our cool and made it up without any problems. We figure that the real test for our comfort level on the via ferrata is when we have to go down. The next four days will all have via ferrata, so we’ll have a good sense as to whether or not we want to do other sections of the trail with this level of difficulty.
As we climbed, the views were really spectacular. Looking back down at the valley we had come from, and looking ahead to the big rock walls around us. It really felt like a different trail from the foothills we have been walking in most days so far.
Once we got up to the ridge, we had about another hour of walking through alpine meadows and dwarf pines to get to our destination for the day. The Kočbekov Dom was burned down five years ago, but now there is a container next to the stone shell of the hut where hikers can come and sleep on the weekends. We were able to get permission to sleep here tonight even though it is not a weekend day. But since the hut manager is not here, there are no services and we needed to bring up our dinner and breakfast. That definitely made our packs heavier today, but it is worth it to be able to stay at this spot.
We arrived at the container at 2:45pm, found the key and were able to get into the bunk room. It has been nice just hanging out for the afternoon, enjoying the beautiful weather and scenery.
We are expecting two other hikers to be staying here tonight. Leah should be coming, as well as a hiker from France who got in touch through our blog, as he is hiking the SMT as well. We think he is hiking faster than us, so we might only see him for one night.