SMT Chapter 2: Entering the Kamnik-Savinja Alps and Racing with Storms
Day 4: Thunderstorm and Power Outage
In Poštarski dom, I slept through the night for the first time. So, it was much harder for me to get up at 6:00 AM and part ways with my cozy bed. Well, it might not be the coziest bed for most people, but it was a luxury compared to my squeaky NeoAir.
M and I packed our things and sat at a large wooden table in front of the cabin to have breakfast. I had my all time favourite: tortilla wraps with Nutella, as usual. It was cold and foggy outside, with thick clouds creeping up the flank of Mount Uršlja Gora. We set off, and after just 30 minutes, it started to rain. Fortunately, the shower was brief, and afterwards, even the sun came out. The ascent to the slightly over 1600m high Uršlja Gora was demanding and steep, and I felt every gram of my backpack weighing on my shoulders. On the first day after reaupply, it always felt particularly heavy…
M and I practiced headstands on the grass; he showed me a one-handed cartwheel, and I attempted a few handstands myself. After our little athletic break, we went to the summit cross, which was located slightly behind the hut. From up there, we could look into the Kamnik Alps ahead of us. The bright limestone sparkled in the sun and almost looked like snow.
We descended a bit, crossed a meadow inhabited by cows, and soon found ourselves in the forest. We hiked on a forest road until we reached a small hut around shortly after 1:00 pm, where we took a lunch break. The sky was covered with bluish-grey clouds, and we decided to wait out the approaching thunderstorm inside the hut. As it turned out, this was definitely the right decision, as just an hour later, the storm arrived with all its force. The wind whipped the rain against the window panes, thunder rumbled loudly and darkly above us, and after a while, the power in the hut went out completely. We knew it was a strong storm when the hut’s host took out her phone and recorded a video. She explained that it had been happening more frequently lately, and when M asked if it was normal, she said it wasn’t.
We had a coffee and waited for the storm to pass. When the sky finally cleared, we set off towards Smrekovec and the hut just below it. While hiking, we debated whether it would be smarter to spend another night in a hut or set up the tent. Shortly before reaching the hut, we crossed a small clearing, which seemed like the perfect spot to pitch the tent. I spontaneously decided to stay here . The weather forecasts were not entirely consistent for the upcoming night, but it didn’t look too bad, and I didn’t want to spend all my money at the beginning of the trip. M continued a bit further to the hut to sleep there. We agreed to meet tomorrow morning at 7:00 am at the hut to continue hiking together.
Just as I had set up my tent, it started to rain. I sat inside with my legs pulled towards my chest, surrounded by my unpacked equipment, and for the first time, I began to doubt my decision. Fortunately, the rain stopped quickly, and I could arrange my little home. Afterward, I cooked myself some food and observed the sky. When it was time to sleep, I laid down and tried to close my eyes. In the distance, lightning illuminated the horizon, making it difficult for me to fall asleep. I also wanted to know if the storm was getting any closer. Finally, at 2:00 am, it was dark enough, and I drifted off to sleep.
Day 5: The Spoon Saga continues
At 4:30 AM, I woke up from what barely was more than a “nap” and decided to start packing up early to have everything ready in case the morning rain arrived as forecasted. An hour later, I reached the hut where M had slept. I encountered a Slovenian couple and had a brief conversation with them before they started hiking. Then, I filtered my water and waited for M to be ready to have breakfast.
As he came out of the hut a little later, we had breakfast together. While preparing his porridge, he unfortunately realized that he had also lost the spoon I had taken from a mountain hut for him just 2 days ago. That makes two spoons lost in just 5 days! I temporarily lent him mine and would go on a spoon hunt later to replace it.
After breakfast, we hiked through vast, lush grasslands along the ridge of the Smrekovec group. Fortunately, the forecasted rain did not occur, and we remained dry until the evening.
After climbing the smaller peaks of Krnes and Komen, we also paid a quick visit to the viewpoint at Travniku. It was an excellent spot to gaze at the Kamnik Alps. Then, we hiked down to Koča na Travniku, which was unfortunately closed during the week, and took a short break in the sun.
From there, we had around two more hours of hiking through forests and alpine landscapes until we reached Koča loki pod Raduho. It was only 1:00 pm and we discussed whether to continue to the next stage or stay here. A quick check of the weather forecast made us decide to hike out as the thunderstorm shouldn’t hit until later in the evening. So,we ascended via a steep and rocky path to our first 2000-meter peak – Raduha. At the summit, there was an ice axe and a summit logbook, in the background the kamnik alps and light shining through the clouds in distinct rays.
The descent to Koča grohotu pod raduho felt almost quick compared to the ascent. We had to be cautious with the scree while descending, and around us we could see signs of recent erosion from recent rainfall.
After finally reaching the hut with our legs getting slightly tired, we had an alcohol free “Radler” and ordered a meal. The hut’s hostess was very friendly and explained each dish in a mix of German, English, and Slovenian. After the great food, I quickly took a shower and got ready for bed.
Distance: 22,7 km; 1518 hm up; 1424 hm down
Day 6: A heartwarming invitation
Since we had plenty of time to reach Solčava and meet up with Tomasz today, who would be accompanying us for a week, we didn’t set an alarm. At 7:00 am, we were slowly getting up. It was pouring rain outside, so we took our time with breakfast. The kind hostess even offered us a second coffee on the house.
When the rain finally subsided, we slowly set off. The descent was muddy, and many times we slipped on the wet forest floor. After losing track of the SMT trail, we hiked along a forest road that also led to Solčava. In the small village, we first visited the supermarket and, as always, ended up buying too much food. At a picnic table in front of the supermarket, we devoured everything that either couldn’t fit in our backpacks or wouldn’t be good for long. Then, we moved over to a café across the street. Unfortunately, while using the restroom, I discovered that I got my period, which slightly overshadowed the excitement for the mountains. I took a painkiller and tried to make the best of it.
At 1:45 pm, we set off towards Robanov Kot, a beautiful valley with a collection of old farmhouses, where T’s bus would arrive, turning our duo into a trio. While waiting for him, it started to rain slightly and ahead of us laid a long and steep ascent into the Kamnik-Savinja Alps.
Our plan quickly changed because the rain turned into a full-fledged thunderstorm that struck with great force overhead. We continued hiking, searching for shelter, and finally found refuge in a barn belonging to a farmhouse along the trail. A woman approached us and asked where we would be sleeping. Truthfully, we replied that we didn’t know yet. She smiled and left. The rain just wouldn’t stop and intensified over time. After a while, we decided to have a picnic while lightning kept flashing through the valley.
Some time later, another woman and a young man approached us. She was the owner of the barn, and he was the son of a farmer. It was evident that she wasn’t pleased that we were sitting in her barn, so we apologized profusely and assured her that it was not our intention to stay there. The young man invited us to his place and pointed to a house further down in the valley which turned out to be a guesthouse. We packed up our things and followed his directions.
When we arrived at the charming old farmhouse, the wife of the man we had spoken to earlier welcomed us. She offered us the last available room and gave us a particularly good price. Not only due to the lack of alternatives but also because it was a truly beautiful place, we decided to stay. The ascent would have been impossible in the current weather anyway. Our hosts treated us to homemade raspberry schnapps and even offered us soup (free of charge)! We insisted on paying for it though. Once again I realised the hospitality and generosity of Slovenian people.
Distance: 11,6 km; 126 hm up, 919 hm down
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