Via Dinarica Week 6! Bosnian Beauty.

Day 36 – Tomislavgrad to Bukovica (16 miles)

New eyes, then a long ridgewalk.

I left off last post on a side quest to get some Bosnian money in the city after having lost my glasses somewhere.  I thought I was going to have to do the rest of the trail in a blur.  However, a couple friends recommended visiting an optician, because why not!?


A quick search on Google located one and I was there at 9 when the doors opened.  The lovely woman said, “I turn on machine, come back in half hour.”  So I went and got a cup of coffee and returned a half hour later.  She did the eye tests, luckily had the right lenses in stock, had them cut and fitted in my chosen frames within 15 minutes, and I have clear sight again!  Total time? Under 1hr.  Total cost?  Under $100.


I headed back to the hotel to checkout.  I had them call a taxi for me because I didn’t want to waste more time trying to hitch back to the trail.

The trail for most of the day was a long gravel road and I had stunning views of the Duvanjsko polje, a fertile glacial plain, to the northeast and Buško jezero to the west.


I explored a couple caves along the way.  I dropped into one and very much enjoyed the cool temperature after the hot, exposed road walk.  The other I passed towards the end of the day and returned to later to set up my tent.

The end of the route for the day led me straight to a pizza place.  I ordered two pizzas and the woman raised her eyebrow, but I crushed them both!

Day 37 – Bukovica to Mountain Hut Blidinje (17.4 miles)

First single track in days, some wayfinding when it disappeared, and a low alternate.

I woke in a dewy field beside the Cathedral Cave just as the sun was cresting the hill I had to climb.  After packing up my wet tent I walked across the Duvanjsko polje and started the climb up the hill.

I walked a well worn path until I lost the markers near the top.  Then I carefully worked my way across the meadow ridge to the peak before dropping the steep other side.  The next few miles I had very little trail to follow, but there were blazes.  I got to another high point, Svinjar peak, then went down to a settlement near a highway.


At this point I had a decision to make.  I was supposed to climb 2,000ft to the base of Vran Mountain.  I had seen the forecast for the next day was rain and thunderstorms.  The climb didn’t seem like an enticing idea.  The highway led to a lake with a hut near it.  After much deliberation I opted for the low route.  I was also walking with about a liter of water left and the streams were all dry.

I arrived at the hut, which was locked, after several miles of pounding pavement.  As I was filling water and weighing my options the caretaker drove up and let me in.  Later that afternoon two Croatian hikers also showed up and we had dinner together while sharing stories and shots of Rakia.

Day 38 – Mountain Hut Blidinje to Hajdučke Vrleti (3.2 miles)

Rain day, so a walk up the road to the hotel/restaurant.

The sky was dark when I woke up, but it wasn’t raining yet.  I decided to walk up the road for a hot meal or two and wifi access to pass the day.  I wanted good weather for the next section because it is regarded as one of the highlights of the Via Dinarica.


Leisurely, I walked the 3 miles up the road and settled in at the restaurant to wait for checkin.  I definitely made a good choice to stay low because about midafternoon it started pouring and the mountain ahead was completely covered in cloud.

I had a great dinner and although totally overwhelmed by this wine list I made a couple good selections which helped me sleep very soundly.

Day 39 – Hajdučke Vrleti to Jablanica (20.7 miles)

Great weather, massive limestone cliffs, The Outlaw’s Gate and a 6,000ft descent to town.

I awoke to totally clear skies but had a little trouble getting the early start I wanted.  The hostess had said 7am checkout possible, but no one was at reception when I went down.  It was almost 8 by the time I was finally able to pay and get going.

The start to the day was an almost 3,000ft climb over 2 miles, extremely steep, but I enjoyed the cool forest path and made good time.  Once I got up to the higher elevation the trailed stayed gentle for quite a while.  There was a 400ft climb, then a 600ft climb to the summit of Veliki Vilinak, and I met a few other hikers in this area.


After passing the Vilinak Mountain Lodge the trail led me to the iconic Outlaw’s Gate, a natural arch in an almost perfect circle.

The scenery around this section was absolutely spectacular, some of the best I have seen on this entire trail!

I wound around the karst peaks for a while before dropping down to the locked Plasa hut, where I had lunch.  The rest of the afternoon I descended nearly 6,000ft along a switchbacking trail, then dirt road.  I was rained on for a short while, but it cleared up quickly and I made it into Jablanica around 5.

Day 40 – Jablanica to Mountain Hut Međuprenje (8.5 miles)

A shorter day than expected due to a long, steep climb, and rain.

You know the saying ‘what comes down must go back up’ (I think that’s how it goes, right?) Well, that is indeed what I had in store.


I left Jablanica, passing a destroyed train bridge probably from the 90’s conflict, but I’m not sure.  Then I had to climb and descend about 600ft, it wasn’t a PUD (Pointless Up and Down) though, I certainly had outstanding views both behind and ahead to Cetina Peak and face of the Prenj range.

The longest, steepest climb yet.

After the drop into the little village of Ravna I began the climb up up and up some more.  The trail was very steep, with hardly any switchbacks, and it wasn’t long before my legs were burning.


I got rained on about halfway up, and I was not cooled down.  The rain didn’t last long but it was enough to make the leaves slippery and I was not having a great time.  I ascended into the cloud, which would break open a little every once in a while, teasing the views I knew I was missing.

After 4,000ft of gain I arrived at two huts, the nice new one was locked tight but the rickety old one was open.  I decided to get a fire going to dry out my clothes, warm up, and wait for a break in the weather.

Around 4:30 the break came and I decided to try for the next hut, roughly three miles away.  I had another 1,000ft to climb and just as I was nearing the pass a couple appeared.  We stopped and chatted and they told me they hadn’t seen the hut I was trying for.  This was concerning, and when they told me they knew where the key was to get into the nice hut below, I made the decision to turn around and call it a day.

Day 41 – Mountain Hut Međuprenje to Rujište (16.6 miles)

An alpine karst environment, with landmines.

I had to keep moving, whether I wanted to or not.  I got a quick snapshot with my new Belgian friends as we went separate ways.  Then I summited Greda Pass again and walked into an eerie alpine landscape.  I say eerie because the black clouds covering the peaks made it somewhat haunting.  Also, I passed several signs warning of landmines!

I was absolutely stunned by the landscape and I had a blast (luckily not literally, though that would happen a couple days later…) moving through Prenj.

In the afternoon the sun cleared off the clouds.  I finally got to see the totality of what I’ve heard referred to as to Yosemite of Bosnia.

Midafternoon I ran into the problem I had feared going into this trail.  I needed to take a poo but with landmines around was not comfortable going off trail.  I made it to a hut with an outhouse just in time, but I’ll be carrying a wagbag from now on.


The final descent led me into Rujište by about 4.  I had dinner with the most drawn out sunset I’ve seen in a long time.  I had two large main courses, two beers, and four shots of different Rakia for just over $10!

Day 42 – Rujište to Rakitnika (22.2 miles)

A long roadwalk with a Medieval necropolis, a big blue lake, and breathtaking views!

I had an escort out of Rujište, a friendly canine companion.  I followed it down the misty road and lost it in the thick fog.  Gradually the road climbed up and I emerged from the fog to witness a cloud lake:

I followed the road up to a ridge where it flattened out, passing a Medieval burial ground.  I read that the tombstones are called Stećci.  They have magical looking engravings and I spent some time exploring the necropolis and taking pictures.

Then the road made a wide turn and I got the first view of the next set of ridges.  Far below me was Boračko jezero.  I was headed to the lake but not directly, the trail followed a contour the long way around.


Where the route was supposed to leave the contour and drop a couple thousand feet down I lost the trail.  I think the gpx was off.  I found several potential old and overgrown trails, but I didn’t feel comfortable after the mine signs the day before.


Listening to my intuition I decided to take the paved road down, adding a bit of distance. I feel safer playing frogger dodging cars than ‘shwacking where there might be landmines hidden.


The restaurants by the lake unfortunately were not serving food, but I was able to get some wine.


The route then followed the paved road for a while, and I jogged the steady downhill because I was feeling good.  I found a nice lookout to pause at for a bit, then continued the last leg of the day.

I passed some very confused villagers in the tiny hamlet of Kašići.  A little farther I found a farmhouse ruin in a clearly maintained pasture.  I decided it was the place to camp for the night.  I was close to the Rakitnika River and the base of another long climb.  Quietly, I set up my tent as the twilight dropped and darkness fell.

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