Winter hasn’t even started yet and I’m already missing warmer weather. The gentle afternoon sun, colorful scenery wherever you go. Warm winds and not having to think about how thick your jacket should be. These days it’s mostly about running from one heated place to another, be that your house, car, bus, workplace or whatever. Breathing the semi-recycled air and talking about how cold the morning was. Going to work in pitch black and coming back home in that same blackness which lasts exactly until you go to work again the next day.
When I was younger I used to love winter, as I guess every kid does. Now I just find it cold, dark and depressing. I find myself going back to all those sunny days spent in the saddle, three hot months on the Adriatic coast with some great night-time riding, or that time we went mountaineering in the Alps.
As you can quickly find out if you consult the map, there is a lot of variety here in Slovenia. Those of us who love the great outdoors take it’s compact size and stunning nature to our advantage in many ways. We like to say that skiing is our national sport, and it might have been, decades ago in the common republic (you might remember Yugoslavia if you’re a bit older – I don’t, really). Times have changed since then, skiing has become, it seems, a hobby of those better off than myself and even though I’d like to get into it, my wallet just couldn’t take the strain.
If anything, we’re a nation of hikers and mountain goats. Our highest mountain, Triglav, is on the national flag. We have more than 10.000 kilometers of marked and maintained hiking trails. In a nation of about 2 million people there are almost 300 hiking clubs with around 55.000 members. Thousands of other hikers are not even members of any such group. Venture out into the mountains on a sunny summer weekend and chances are, you won’t have anywhere to sleep if you’re late arriving at your chosen rest cottage. They’re not going to leave you on their doorstep, but given the limited number of beds, you’ll soon be sleeping on the floor of the common room if you don’t reserve in advance.
I’ve been a hiker longer than I’ve been cycling and I could tell you some great stories of how those alpine cottages are places of pure joy and happiness, and how you won’t find bad people anywhere up there. But that’s not what I wanted to do today. Mostly I wanted to show you a video I made of one of such trips I made earlier this year. The mountain in question is called Stol, which lies right on the border between Slovenia and Austria – our neighbours call in Hochstuhl or High Seat, while in slovene it’s just A Chair. 🙂
It was a one day trip which was supposted to take about 3-4 hours for the ascent and the same to get down. In the end it took us a good 12 hours, with everyone and their grandma overtaking us swiftly. We didn’t have much luck with the weather at the top and I was a bit cranky because I was lead to believe there was a lot less climbing involved. Even though I cursed the whole thing for the last few hours, it was certainly worth the effort – the memories stick with you for a long time after you get back.
I’ve been neglecting the hills in favour of my bike and perhaps I should make up for it next year. The mountains are perfect for an active holiday and if you’re perhaps looking for something different, why not give the Slovenian Alps a try? I promise you won’t be disappointed.