At the end of the month I like to look back on what I’ve done and where I’ve been. On how I felt and what was on my mind. It turned out that my Instagram pictures actually give a pretty good impression. So, I decided to put them together in a blog post. Here’s my monthly photo essay: Looking back on November BLUE TRAIL it is ✌️👣.
Via Dinarica Blue Trail
This is the last stretch. The last part of my Via Dinarica journey. In November and December I’ll be hiking the Via Dinarica Blue Trail in Croatia. It follows the Adriatic coast all the way to Slovenia, but Učka Nature Park will be my finish. I try not to think about the distance too much, but enjoy the miles I get to hike.
On Island Mljet I followed the Mljetska Planinarska Obilaznica (MPO), a hikingtrail across the entire island. It more or less matches the Via Dinarica or the Via Dinarica more or less follows the MPO. A wonderful, well maintained trail which saves the best for last 🙂
Somewhere along the way my sunglasses broke in two. Didn’t think it would be too hard to find a new one at the Croatian coast, but being off season makes everything a bit more challenging. Challenging and beautiful if you ask me. Like Mljet National Park. Being on this island felt isolated and free at the same time. Or free because of this isolation? Sometimes it’s a relief when not everything is possible. When choices are limited. Makes life a whole lot easier. Or not?
In August I got a new rain jacket, wearing it for the second time now. good-weather-hiker or a lot of luck?
Southeastern area of Biokovo
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.
Here I am on the top of mountain, Sveti Ilija. Not a high peak, not even a prominent one and technically it’s not even a mountain (if it’s true that a mountain needs an altitude of at least 1000 meter to be a mountain). But that’s not my point.
The Via Dinarica website writes that the trail after the Baćinska lakes is neglected and therefore not hikable. I had to walk the Jadranska magistrala. Not my first choice, so I decided to check out the state of the hikingtrail. On the Montenegrin coast trail (PPT) I freshed up my bushwhack-trail-searching-skills for over a week and it would be a shame not to use that experience.
To my surprise there were marks. Freshly painted red dots lead me through abandoned settlements to the foot of Sveti Ilija. Then a challenging steep climb started. I scrambled my way up to the ridge, a beautiful rocky ridge. In the meantime the sun decided to make its way down. The soft colours and the warm light made the climb and the ridge hike even more spectacular.
There are things, feelings, experiences I can’t describe with 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 the top. Thankful for where I am. Proud that I can be where I am.
You know what, I like selfies. I take them as long as I travel alone. Of course I usually smile when it’s sunny and I frown when it’s rainy or cloudy. All of them are more or less the same. But they’re mine. My selfies. And I like them. I often wonder why the hell I share them though.
Why do I feel the need to put my face on internet? My face, my stories, my thoughts and feelings. Why? Have to confess that I’ve always felt resistance. Part of me always disliked the whole social media world. The other part said it’s the easy way out to be a hater, so I engaged. But I still don’t know if it’s actually giving me more than it’s taking.
I noticed that I feel jealous when people tell me they don’t have Facebook or Instagram. “That must be such a bless” is what I think. Then I think of all the people I met through Facebook and even on Instagram. All the people with who I now can connect. Stay in touch. Be connected. What will happen if I stop? What will I miss? What would others miss? Don’t know.
Since I don’t have the answers and I don’t know if I’d like to find out, I’ll happily keep on sharing my selfies. Here’s a frowning one, ’cause it’s cloudy.
Biokovo Nature Park
The week before last week I’ve been on the Biokovo Planinarske Staze, BPS in short. Another incredibly hiking trail through the mountains above the Adriatic coast. 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 it in four days, but you need to be able to hike 14 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.
“You cannot walk on those shoes” is probably the number one comment I get. It doesn’t matter if I wear FiveFingers or these Vivobarefoot sandals, it’s just not a common thing and therefore people think it’s impossible. Well, I can tell you it’s not. Maybe you cannot walk on those shoes, but I’m doing a damn good job if you ask me. I stopped counting kilometers, but these buddies surely hit the 1000. Probably more. Hope to finish the Biokovo hiking trail (Biokovo Planinarske Staze, BPS) before I run out of shoes. Fingers crossed, cause both my FiveFingers and Vivobarefoot sandals are about to fall apart 🤞
Walking above the treeline is what I love most. The exposed, dry, rocky terrain with its round ridges and rugged peaks. After miles and miles and miles on many many mountains, I’m still in love and falling deeper every day.
On Biokovo it suddenly got cold. Cold, but still sunny. “Little Bura is coming” someone said. Bura, wind from the North can be tricky so I decided to go to Mostar to pick up warm clothes and new shoes. Smart move, cause on my way down my sandals ánd my FiveFingers fell apart. Even without Bura it would have been impossible to continue.
In Mostar I met up with a friend who accommodated me in mountainhut Fortica. My oh my, that’s such a cool place. It’s right above Mostar, you can even see the old bridge, but you’re totally surrounded by mountains. I could live there, honestly. Oh, and there’s a zipline😁
Although I didn’t plan to stay more than three days, cause I kind of wanted to hike the blue trail in one push, I of course ended up staying almost a week. Or longer? Hmm. “Tomorrow I’ll leave” and then I didn’t. Guess I’m not made for pushing through on trails. I need those breaks, I love those breaks. Sometimes I think the only reason I can keep on hiking is because I take breaks.
And the longer I’m on the road, the longer my breaks get…
Last year I biked from Sarajevo to Split. The idea was to connect the Blue with the White and Green Via Dinarica trails. What I didn’t realize was that I not only connect the Blue trail, I also biked the 17th stage of it. Therefore I now hike an alternative track on Omiška Dinara that follows the mountainous coastline. Although the original route along the Cetina river was great by bike, I definitely recommend Omiška Dinara when you’re on foot. There are excellent trails, shelters and of course amazing views 😍
Got another clear weather day. Blue blue sky on the blue trail. It’s pretty cold and still windy, but my oh my this mountain is worth every effort. I choose to go up from Gata to Kozik peak, a technical but beautiful route. Love these rocky ridges, seriously Mosor is just like Biokovo totally my kind of mountain.
Oww short days! The sunsets are absolutely spectacular, but the days are way too short. Here I’m still on the ridge while it soon will be completely dark. I underestimated the route, these ridges take time. With the dark comes the cold. This night the temperature dropped far below zero, with my three season tent and sleeping bag that’s a bit too much, but luckily a well marked track lead me to a shelter in the forest.
Think the trick is not to freak out when it gets difficult. I thought of the Alpine tours I made, then we mostly started in dark. Often on more difficult terrain, but I was never alone. Nevertheless that Alpine experience still gives me confidence. I could even enjoy finding my way through the dark. Everything gets so quiet while at the same time you hear so much more. Or because it’s quiet you hear much more. Anyways, it’s magical. Mosor has been magical from sunrise to sunset and beyond. Love this mountain!
Mosor mountain is a true hiking paradise. It’s covered with trails, huts and shelters and there are people using and maintaining them. Six or seven months ago I noticed on the Put Oluje (Dinara – Troglav – Kamešnica hikingtrail) that mountaineering club(s) from Split put a lot of effort in (re)building huts and shelters. Here on their “home” mountain Mosor I kind of expected it, but nonetheless it makes me so super happy when I meet red creatures like this. This container was marked as a picnic area on my map. Although I love picnic tables, red containers are the max! THANK YOU mountaineers from Split, you’re making my day 😘
FiveFingers & De Trek Barefoot
This year I’m sponsored by De Trek Barefoot, an barefoot minded outdoor store in Amsterdam and Hoorn, The Netherlands. Since I’m hiking on Vibram FiveFingers and Vivo Barefoot sandals for years now, De Trek Barefoot is a perfect match. Besides barefootstyle shoes De Trek Barefoot provided me with clothes and gear which means a lot. Thanks a lot for supporting me and my journey!
The 17th of February I’ll give a presentation (in The Netherlands) about long distance hiking on Vibram FiveFingers. It will be about the how’s and why’s of barefootstyle hiking just as much as it will be about my trekking through the Balkans itself. Keep you posted!
A big thanks to all the sweet people who treated me to a cup of coffee, it really really means the world to me. Not only am I welcomed almost everywhere I get with a good strong coffee, also people who read my blog frequently buy me a coffee. Because of all this generosity I’m able to do what I do, so THANKS. 💕