BLOG | BIOKOVO Hiking Trail, Sveti Ilija from the other side

There are moments I feel proud and thankful at the same time. Proud of where I am. Thankful that I can be where I am. The Via Dinarica website writes that the Blue Trail after the Baćinska lakes, the most southern part of the Biokovo Hiking Trail, is neglected and therefor not hikable. I had to walk the Jadranska magistrala, the main coastal road. Not my first choice, so I decided to be stubborn and check out the state of the hiking trail. Turned out that I would get to experience one of my favorite Via Dinarica moments on exactly this part of the trail. On an insignificant peak of an insignificant mountain. Insignificant, but indescribably magical.

Many things, feelings, experiences I can’t put into words. Think in Japan they have a word for these magical indescribable moments. Forgot what that word was, but what I do know is that I felt proud and thankful when I reached that top. Thankful for where I am. Proud that I can be where I am.

Biokovo Hiking Trail

The second week of November (2018) I was on the Biokovo Planinarske Staze, BPS in short or Biokovo Hiking Trail in English. Another incredible hiking trail through the mountains above the Adriatic coast ánd part of the Via Dinarica Blue Trail. It covers Biokovo nature park, but also the southern part of Biokovo mountain – Rilić I believe it’s called – and Baćinska jezera. I met someone who hiked the whole BPS in four days, but you need to be able to hike fourteen hours a day. With the sunset at 16.30 it was simply impossible to makes miles like he did, even if I wanted to. So, I took it easy and enjoyed my slow journey on one of the most beautiful Croatian mountains I have been. Biokovo, a wicked beauty.

Baćina jezera, Biokovo Planinarske Staze
Baćinska jezera
Biokovo Planinarske Staze BPS | Biokovo Hiking Trail
Biokovo Planinarske Staze or Biokovo Hiking Trail
Eva on sveti Ilija, Biokovo Hiking Trail
Sveti Ilija
Blue Trail: Rilić, Sveti Ilija
View from Sveti Ilija
Via Dinarica CROATIA Blue trail, Vošac | Biokovo Nature Park
View from Vošac, Biokovo Nature Park

Baćinska jezera

From Ploče I went to Baćina where I picked up the route towards Baćinska jezera. This is part (Baćina – Rudine – sv. Ilija) which wouldn’t be hikable, but to my surprise it was marked and not overgrown at all. Freshly painted red dots lead me through abandoned settlements to the foot of Sveti Ilija. A little demanding climb to the ridge, but worth every effort. I love ridges, love climbing and of course I love the wide views. With the sun on its way down, I made my way up. Weird to have the evening-sun-feeling at three in the afternoon. Weird, but beautiful. The soft colours and the warm light made the climb and the ridge hike even more spectacular.

Down to Gradac was much easier, even with only a little daylight left. I pitched my tent between some olive trees, the flattest place I could find, just before it got completely dark. It’s such a special feeling to be close to civilization, to see the coast and the lights of the towns down there while all alone on a mountain. Surrounded by the dark and the sounds of the night. So peaceful.

Biokovo Hiking Trail to Sveti Ilija
Biokovo Hiking Trail
BPS Biokovo Hiking Trail
Early evening
Sunset from Sveti Ilija, Biokovo Hiking Trail
Sunset at 4
Love rocks at the Biokovo Hiking Trail
Pink rocks

Beaches

Next day I had to go down to the coast to get food. Although the day started rainy, I was excited for the beaches. There’s something special about extremely touristy places when all visitors are gone and you only get to see the left overs. Pretty is different, it’s generally sad if you look at how we people destroy the environment, the nature to have a nice holiday at the beach, but in a way that is exactly what I like about the low season. It shows the ugliness, the other side or maybe just the reality of us consuming nature. When it rains it shows even more. All the pleasant vibes you get to feel despite all the sad- and ugliness is perhaps the real beauty of the Croatian coast.

From Gradac I walked to Brist and from Brist I went to Drvenik. Empty promenades, drizzly weather, closed bars, closed hotels, closed campsites, empty supermarkets and AND empty beaches. Halfway the day the sun came through and believe it or not, I actually went for a swim. Have to confess that it was mostly because I desperately needed a wash, but the water wasn’t cold at all. I could even dry my clothes in the sun and bade my body in the sun for a pretty decent while. Such a beautiful present considered it was already November.

After season vibe

Although I wished it could stay like this forever, the slow after-season-vibe, the softness of the light, dim sounds, salty sea air and the surprisingly warm autumn sun got me hooked in only two days, I knew I had push through the Biokovo miles before the first snow would hit. With Mr Bura on his way, I wasn’t even sure if me and my tent would be able to make it over the entire Biokovo mountain. So, I said the beaches goodbye and hiked up towards the clouds.

Grey day at the Blue Trail
Grey day at the Blue Trail
November swimming in Croatia
November swim
Empty beaches in November
Empty beaches
Cooking on the Beach
Cooking on the beach

Brutal Biokovo

Biokovo can be brutal. In summer it’s screaming hot, in winter there’s wind and snow and all seasons in between are sort of a mix of both. One thing is to be prepared when it comes to water and sun exposure, which is relatively easy manageable. Protecting yourself from the Bura is a whole lot more difficult. Once you’re up there, there’s no way to hide on these exposed ridges. You’ll have to find a good weather window and at all times admit that nature is stronger.

I found that window. Or at least I thought. From Drvenik I climbed the steep wall that is dividing the coast from the hinterland, walked in the clouds across the ridge towards Klenjak and then had a road walk to Biokovo Nature Park. Luckily an older couple in Drvenik let me sleep in a caravan in their backyard, because if not, I probably would have had to hold my tent all night. Winter wind is on it’s way for sure.

Biokovo Hiking Trail is behind that wall
Biokovo behind that wall
Blue Trail: Rilić to Biokovo Nature Park
On the saddle upon the “wall”
Behind the clouds, Biokovo
Biokovo behind the clouds
Biokovo above the sea
Sunny at the beaches

Biokovo beauty

On Biokovo I couldn’t get over its prettiness. “It’s so pretty!” I kept screaming. It really really is. The rocks, the route, the trees, the pines, the herbs, the massive walls, the insane views, the mountain goats. What not? Biokovo is a wicked, wicked beauty.

Mountain hut Vošac had an unlocked water cistern and also the hut a little further below had water. Filled up to the max Intinued to the next shelter, PK Lokva I believe it was. Although all huts and shelters were closed, I appreciated them a lot. It’s such a blast to be able to hide behind a wall and not having the wind constantly banging on you. With a little improvisation I managed to pitch my tent and with a whole lot of stones my tent managed to keep on standing during the night.

Sveti Ilija

Next day I continued to Sveti Ilija where I found the first patches of frozen water. So yes, besides windy it got cold as well. On top of that I had no water and not much day light left. The original track would lead me further Eastwards along the ridge, but there was also an option to descend towards the North where I would find a shelter and a water source. With pain in my heart I left the Biokovo Hiking Trail and hiked down. That night the temperature dropped far below zero. I was frozen, but happy. It was a good decision to sleep in the slightly warmer forest, because until now I kept prosponing swapping to my winter gear.

At all good things comes an end and that’s alright. Summer has gone, Autumn showed me it’s time to pick up my box with winter goodies and Biokovo, Biokovo gave me a reason to come back.

LOVE BIOKOVO Hiking TRAIL smile :)
Love love love Biokovo
Biokovo Hiking Trail: Trees
Trees and Trail
Biokovo Hiking Trail: rocks
slopes
Blue Trail BIOKOVO Hiking Trail
views
Biokovo Hiking Trail: ridges
ridges

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Via Dinarica CROATIA Blue Trail | BIOKOVO, Sveti Ilija
Biokovo’s Sveti Ilija
View from shelter down to the North
View from the shelter down North of the Biokovo Hiking Trail
Lower shelter of the North side of Biokovo mountain
Cold, but content goodbye

Biokovo Hiking Trail mapped out

As soon as I have uploaded my GPX tracks on the Outdooractive platform, a map with WayPoints and all the other stuff you might want to know is gonna show up here. Please be patient 🙂

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