Ready to go!

While sitting on my balcony, watching the sunset I realise I am ready. It feels weird, I’m having an amazing time here, but I’m also ready to move on.

The adventure I am so much looking forward to is about to begin. Well, that’s not entirely true, the adventure has already started long ago. Life is one big adventure. I’m just moving on. A next chapter.

Today I have sent ahead the last package for supplies on the road. Besides maps and directions it contains a fantastic breakfast mix, SPF 50, batteries and an empty diary. It isn’t neccessary to do this, but If I have learnt one lesson it is that something that is easy to get in the Netherlands can lead to a day long search here in the Balkans. To give myself a break I have done some prep work and re-supplied myself at some strategic places. Since it is quite unusual to send yourself packages through post offices (and there aren’t many post offices along the way), I have approached several guesthouses, families and people I know along the White trail. This way I have come in contact with people I will meet in the flesh in a couple of weeks. Talking about joyful anticipation!

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These past days I have spent hours sorting through the chaos of phone numbers, addresses, links, websites, GPS tracks and coordinates in a network of contact persons, mountain rescue teams, mountaineering clubs, mountain huts, friends and acquaintances. Over the past weeks I had collected al the information by bookmarking, writing down, mailing myself, taking pictures, but I didn’t have a system. Also I am using a different phone with a Bosnian number and I am not skillful enough to easily sync everything. To my frustration this took a bit more time than I anticipated, but it feels good now everything is in order.

For the time being all the mandatory jobs are in a fine balance with the fun side of things. Trips to the mountains are easily arranged even when you don’t have a car. Sarajevo is surrounded by these giants. I also am lucky enough to have met the right people. I landed in a circle of nature lovers, passioned mountaineers and enthusiastic entrepreneurs. Contact is easily made and leads to new encounters with like minded people every time. That’s why I’m having trouble leaving. There is so much more to do and so many more people that I would like to get to know better. Enough reasons to stay. Or reasons to come back.

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The countless cups of coffee, beers and test trips have lead to being mentally and physically prepared. I have been informed by experts about the mountains, the trails, the dangers, the habits, the discomforts and all the beauty that is ahead of me. With a notepad full of tips, advice, to dos, must haves, don’t forgets and more email addresses and phone numbers it slowly came together. And yes, as I just sat on my balcony I felt ready.

There is a big event in Blidinje National Park where all involved will be attending. Via Dinarica, Terra Dinarica, UNDP, local entrepreneurs, mountaineering clubs, volunteers, bikers and hikers. Everyone is invited and welcome. For me this seemed like a good time to pack up and move on. It doesn’t matter if it’s a beginning or a continuation. I’ll travel on to Valbona in Albania where I will finally start hiking.

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The only thing left for me is to put all the gear I have collected in to my beautiful new, still nameless, backpack. I’m a bit scared of the “Wild” scene where Cheryl Strayed who is hiking the Pacific Crest trail starts packing the evening before and finds out this is more difficult than she thought. AND when she’s finally packed realises the bag is too heavy to lift off the ground. That’s why I’m postponing the packing. I am ready to go, but not quite ready to have a confrontation with my backpack.

Translated by Liesbeth


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