Looking back on December: Slowly sliding towards the finish line

Categories Looking Back

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 December: Slowly sliding towards the finish line.

Slowly sliding towards the end of the trail and rapidly jumping into a new adventure. In December I finished a journey that started about 2,5 year ago, hiking Via Dinarica or better said Hiking all three Via Dinarica Trails. I’ve done it!

Although there’s still so much more to explore and I’m certainly not done with hiking, biking, climbing the Dinarides or the Balkans yet, I needed a break from packing my bag every single day. That’s why I headed to a mountain hut on Trebević, SPD Jure Franko.

📷 @wildinthebalkans
📷 @wildinthebalkans

But before I take you to Bosnia and Herzegovina, have a look at Croatia’s Blue Trail.

Kozjak

Kozjak was the last mountain I had to pass before the trail headed land inwards. Although it rained all day, I really enjoyed the hike. Sometimes a colourless day is exactly what I want. A wet, grey hike doesn’t have to be bad. Every now and then I got a little glimpse of the spectacular cliffs, but most of the day all I got to see were clouds.

Trail to Kozjak Mountain | Via Dinarica
View on Kozjak
Via Dinarica HR Blue Trail | Stage 15: Kozjak, misty mountain above Split
Via Dinarica HR Blue Trail | Stage 15: Kozjak, misty mountain above Split
View from Planinarski dom Malačka, Split
View from Planinarski dom Malačka

Central Dalmatia

I expected the Blue Trail to be more of a road walk kind of trail. Many stages are marked as biking sections that cover pretty big distances, but after Biokovo, Omiška Dinara, Mosor and Kozjak – sections more or less without roads – I almost forgot what roadhikes are like. I kind of started to miss those endless miles where I distract myself with podcasts. Where I can let my thoughts float as long as the day lasts. And where I forget to take photos because I’m totally in a walkingmachine-mode. Luckily there was Central Dalmatia to make it all up to me.

Via Dinarica HR Blue Trail | Stage 14: Central Dalmatia
Via Dinarica HR Blue Trail | Stage 14: Central Dalmatia

Krka National Park

Not sure if it was worth the awful asphalted up&down the same road detour, but at least I can tick off another MUST SEE from the list: Krka National Park✔️

Via Dinarica HR Blue Trail | Stage 13: Krka National Park

Budget tip: during low season you pay 30 instead of 200 Kuna’s to enter Krka National Park. Do bring your own sandwiches though, cause e-ve-ry-thing is closed. #hungryhiker

And here are my new buddies, the FiveFinger V-TRAINS. Warm, sturdy and sort of pink. Most of the mountains are behind, but I’ve still got about 500 (?) kilometers left. The biggest challenge now is the cold. Or the wind? Hmmm. Anyways as long as I keep on moving my feet won’t get cold 🤞

Krka National Park in winter
Skradinski slap, Krka National Park

Vransko jezero & the coast

Via Dinarica HR Blue Trail | Stage 12: Vransko Jezero Nature Park 💙 Silent shore
Via Dinarica HR Blue Trail | Stage 12: Vransko Jezero Nature Park 💙 Silent shore
Hiking Via Dinarica Blue Trail Croatia
Where the sea meets the road or the road meets the sea
Vransko jezero: Beautiful but boring
Beautiful but a bit boring

It’s amazing how well I’ve been treated. Can’t get used to it. I don’t need much, but a roof above my head when the wind gets too strong can make me superhappy. I had people driving up to a mountainhut to open it just for me, people that let me sleep in a caravan, people that offered me a room, an appartement or simply gave the keys of their weekend house. So many people invited me for coffee, lunch, dinner, treated me to a nice cold beer or a warm bowl of soup, gave me fresh food, homemade food, chocolate, cookies, candies, bread, nuts. I’ve been spoiled with warmth, good and kindness.

Got about ten more days to go, but I’m already feeling nostalgic. Perhaps it’s the time of the year, the end of the year when people start to reflect. Or it’s just because the end of the trail is near. The end of my Via Dinarica adventure. Anyhow, I’m dry and warm for tonight thanks two a sweet old man and his sweet old caravan.

Ravni Kotari

Via Dinarica HR Blue Trail | Stage 11: Ravni Kotari, monthly market in Benkovačko selo
Via Dinarica HR Blue Trail | Stage 11: Ravni Kotari, monthly market in Benkovačko selo
Via Dinarica HR Blue Trail | An alternative route for stage 9 & 10: Novigradsko more
Via Dinarica HR Blue Trail | An alternative route for stage 9 & 10: Novigradsko more

The island of Pag & Rab

Via Dinarica HR Blue Trail | Stage 8: Island of Pag
Via Dinarica HR Blue Trail | Stage 8: Island of Pag

Via Dinarica HR Blue Trail | Stage 8: Island of Pag

With another Bura coming I got a room for the night. Told myself it’s safer to sleep inside, but the truth is I desperately wanted to wash my hair 🙄

Via Dinarica HR Blue Trail | Stage 7: Island of Rab
Via Dinarica HR Blue Trail | Stage 7: Island of Rab ⛵ On my way
Croatia Full Of Life, sightseeing old town Rab
Rab old town
Croatia Full Of Life, sightseeing Rab
Croatia Full Of Life
Croatia Full Of Life, Christmas
Jep, almost Christmas

Bura and boats

Bura, Jugo, Bura, Jugo, Bura and there’s the Jugo again. Jugo brings clouds and rain from Italy, Bura blows it – with a good dose of freezing cold air – all away. In between it’s calm. So serene. Although I’m constantly checking the weather, it’s not bad at all. It’s exactly what I wished the winter to be like. Fresh air, clear skies and a whole lot of quietness. The only problem are the ferries. They don’t when it’s windy. On Pag I had to hike all the way back and make a detour via the mainland. Here on Rab it seems to be the same story. I decided to wait one more day, hoping the catamaran to Rijeka will show up tomorrow 🤞

Hiking on the Island of Rab on Vibram FiveFingers V-TRAINS
Stuck on Rab

Učka & Rijeka

From Rab I went directly to Rijeka and then to Matulji at the foot of Učka mountain. I decided that Rijeka would be the finish, but then my host in Matulji happened to live on the hiking trail to Vojak, Učka’s highest peak. A mountain on a plate 😉 Sooo, one more day to go! ✌️

Hiking Via Dinarica Adriatic Sea
Coastal Trail
Via Dinarica HR Blue Trail | Stage 3: Učka Nature Park
Via Dinarica HR Blue Trail | Stage 3: Učka Nature Park 😍

Vojak, you’re the finish. Here my Via Dinarica journey ends.

In the past 2,5 year hiked the White, the Green & the Blue Trail. Plus detours and alternative routes. In between I went to Amsterdam to empty my appartment, walked from The Netherlands back to the Balkans. I lived a few months in Zagreb, spend a fair amount of time in Sarajevo where I went for day hikes, short weekend trips, longer weekend trips, I discovered snowshoeing, explored the city surroundings by bike and sort of tried to learn the language.

Although there’s still so much more to explore and I’m certainly not done with hiking, biking, climbing the Dinarides or the Balkans yet, I need a break from packing my bag every freaking day.

Soooo, good bye beautiful blue trail. Hello uhhh – next step?

Keep you posted! 😘

Hiking Vojak peak, Učka Nature Park
Vojak peak, Učka Nature Park
Mountain view Učka Nature Park, Croatia
View on Triglav National Park

Sarajevo & Trebević

Sarajevo might be one the most polluted cities I’ve seen, it’s also one of the places I keep on coming back because it has something special. This time I’m not staying in town, but repacked my bag to survive one month in a mountain hut on Trebević. If the smog allows, I’ll wake up with probably the best view on this dirty, but beautiful concrete gem.

Sarajevo city view smoggy Hiking day
Smoggy but beautiful. Or beautiful but smoggy?
Hiking on Trebević mountain, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Wild in the Balkans

The great thing about Sarajevo is that in half an hour you’re in the mountains. If you’re taking the cable car it’s even faster, but I was not willing to pay, so we walked. And hitchhiked a little. A spontaneous microadventure with my sweet friend Sabina from Sarajevo. Had such a great day!

Into the white ❄️ almost there...
Into the white ❄️ almost there…

Mountain lodge Jure Franko

My friend Sabina told me about this new mountainhut on Trebević, Jure Franko and asked the owner if I could stay there. I could. Besides some photos I saw on Instagram I had no idea what to expect. When I opened the door I knew I found the right place.

Living Room Mountain lodge Jure Franko
Living room mountain lodge Jure Franko
Trebević mountain in snow
Trebević ❄️ view from the hut
Mountain cat Mac
Meet Mac (Mats)
Mountain dog Dexter
Meet Dexter
Sarajevo in the clouds
Sarajevo in the clouds
Cloudy hair day
31/12/2018 Eva in the clouds

Wintervlog

Best Nine 2018

Best Nine INSTAGRAM evadinaricaproject
Best nine photos on Instagram
  • Prokletije, Kosovo
  • Biokovo NP, Croatia
  • Velebit, Croatia
  • Tara NP, Serbia
  • Trebević, Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Krka NP, Croatia
  • Dinara peak, Croatia
  • Medvednica, Croatia
  • Tara NP, Serbia

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!

Vibram FiveFingers V-TRAINS
Vibram FiveFingers V-TRAINS

Support

Patreon | Eva Smeele is creating stories about her hiking adventures
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Kapučino

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. 💕

Hiking & Biking the Balkans

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