I had a plan, I had maps, descriptions from other hikers and of course my GPS. It didn’t seem difficult to go to the top of Dinara, just a long “climb”. I had enough time, more than enough water and a plan that gave me the opportunity to spend an extra day on the mountain. Mountain Dinara. The only problem was that I was tired.

Although I slept in a nice bed in Vila Cetina, I didn’t get enough sleep. Actually, I didn’t get enough sleep for too many nights in a row, so I was tired for days. Every night there is someone, something or some creature that keeps me from sleeping. Nevertheless, I went on, with this extra day which meant more napping time, in mind.

Coffee & rakija

Early in the morning I left Vila Cetina. The sweet Ivanka got up as well to make coffee. Before I knew it, she had filled two glasses with rakija. That’s how you start the day,  hoppa! Tired and drunk, I started my way up.

The first stop was planinarski dom Glavaš, the place where I was heading the day before, but due to heavy rain decided to stay in Cetina. Glavaš was closed, but it would have been a nice place to stay or camp. There is water in a well outside, picnic tables a flat grass to park your car or tent. I really don’t understand why the people in Cetina were so shocked that I was planning to go there.

Dinara, to climb or not to climb?
Hiking UP to Dinara

No water on Dinara?

After filling my water bottle and camel-bag, I continued the trail up. Although I had heard that there should be a spring along the way, you never know for sure if there is still water in it. Same for the water at the shelter, you never know. You might find a dead animal in the well. Of course there was water everywhere and all of it was perfectly fine. On this side of Dinara the “no water on Dinara” horror stories were not nearly true.

My plan was to stay at the shelter if there was water. This way I didn’t have to rush for the thunderstorms the weather forecast predicted and I could get some sleep. Take it easy, nice and slow.

Afternoon at Martinova Košara

There were clouds indeed and just before I reached the shelter a heavy morning rain got me soaked. Although it stopped just as sudden as it started, I was exhausted and stuck to my plan. I put up my tent in front of the shelter and slept for hours.

The sun woke me up. It was still the same day, but sunny. And windy. Beautiful though. I didn’t do much the rest of the day. Signed the register of the Martinova Košara and saw that Gerald,  the German VD hiker was there a few days before me. I amused myself with the water well – why do all the buckets have holes in the bottom?

croatia_dinara_via_dinarica | Hiking Via Dinarica
Dinara, Croatia

Dark clouds above Dinara

The next morning was completely different. No sun, no wind,  no rain, just depressing dark clouds above Dinara. No way. The day before I could have gone to the peak, I had plenty of time and after that little morning storm, the weather was pretty ok. Of course, I didn’t know that then, and I needed to sleep. Besides, I had a sweet afternoon. But it kind of felt stupid that I let this opportunity go now the morning was not looking too good. I couldn’t decide what to do, wait? Or just go and see what happens.

Luckily, two hikers came my way. A couple from Poland who were on their way up. They headed towards the shelter to hide for the rain. Yes, it started to rain. A short heavy shower, nothing to be afraid of. The couple was determined to continue and that spirit was just what I needed. Short after they left, I stuffed my wet tent in my backpack and left as well.

On my way to Croatia’s highest peak

A bit of rain, but not too bad. A bit cloudy, but not too much. This is doable, I thought. Finally, I’m going to make it to a peak! Croatia’s highest peak! Maybe these thoughts woke the little peak-devil that is travelling with me. The clouds became darker when I got closer. After each hill before the peak, there was another hill with even darker clouds. Ah well, you can’t have sun all the time… But I’m a lazy-sport-hiker. I like the sun and the views. Nevertheless, I continued, hoping to meet the couple on the top.

Unfortunately, they were already on their way back. Soaked. “How was it up there?” I asked. “We didn’t go to the peak.” They said with almost s sad voice. “The weather is no good there. You can’t see it from here, but the clouds look dangerous and there is heavy rain. It’s no good, we went back twenty minutes before the top.” I couldn’t believe it.

On the way up to Martinova Košara, a shelter at the foot of Dinara
On the way up to Martinova Košara, a shelter at the foot of Dinara

How bad could it get?

Polish people, Polish mountaineers are unstoppable. They go whatever it takes to the top. Also, this couple climbed in their short holiday many different peaks in the Balkans. What does this tell me? Are they not really from Poland? Are they not really mountaineers? Or is the weather really “no good”? I was in doubt. I had to make a decision again. Go on and see for myself? Or go back with them?

More rain, more wind. Come on, come on Eva! I looked at Patty, the girl. She didn’t look happy, but she made a decision. They were certainly not going back. “How bad was it?” I asked again. “You can probably make it, but don’t want to be in a thunderstorm, that’s all.”

It was only one kilometre, but I had the ridge in front of me. Exposed hiking, no shelter to hide. I was at a point where it would be more convenient to go back to Glavaš instead if continuing to Brezovac on the other side of Dinara. Ahh, I suck at this. That’s the hardest part of being alone, to decide what to do.

The Caroline test

I thought of Caroline, a friend from Amsterdam who is going to join me in a week. What would I do if she was with me? “Go back” the answer came immediately. I would not take any risk if I was with her. I feel responsible for someone else, more than I feel for myself.

On the other hand, I also know that mountains are less in her comfort-zone than they are for me. The mountains, hiking with a heavy backpack, sleeping in a tent, wearing the same socks day in day out. I can’t really compare the situation,  but the fact that I would definitely go back if Caroline was there, was interesting information.

Martinvova Košara

Martinova Košara

For a moment I thought of waiting at Martinova Košara shelter, to see if it would be better during the day, but it was hard to tell from that distance. Actually, on the way back, leaving the dark clouds behind, it kind of felt like a relief. I couldn’t do any more decision-making. There were more people going up. Our outfits were a bit if a contrast. Rain clothes from top to toe, still wearing a buff and warm sweaters and the summer shorts, colourful shirts from the hikers who just started their way up.

Unlike the Polish couple, I didn’t feel disappointed or even sad. I was looking forward to a cup of coffee and focused on the positive side. I could always give Dinara a try from the other side. From Knin. It’s not over yet.

The couple gave me a ride to Knin and from there I walked into a series of unexpected,  surprisingly sweet encounters. These I certainly wouldn’t want to miss, which I would have if I continued on Dinara.

“Whatever you’re seeking for won’t come in the form you’re expecting.” – Haruki Murakami


  1. […] Die “tussenstukken”, verbindingswegen of kilometerslange asfalt-etappes vind ik over het algemeen helemaal zo erg nog niet. Het hoort er een beetje bij wanneer je lange afstandsroutes loopt. Verstand op nul en doorlopen, je kan niet anders dan je eraan overgeven. Simpel als dat. Desalniettemin bleef de Dinara-overschrijding in mijn hoofd zitten. Te meer omdat ik twee jaar geleden niet eens op de top kwam. […]

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