– Vale delle candele March 12, 2014
As we round the final bend and I can see the Pensione at Poklon, the capogita says – we are not taking our hiking shoes off. We are headed to the Vale delle Candelle or Vela Draga in Croation. We head back down the forested road, pass the fountain Josep II again and several hairpin turns later we are at the parking lot for Vela Draga or Vale delle Meraviglie. We follow a newly renovated path for about 600 metres. It leads to an observation area that looks down into a deep canyon (a straght valley starting at the perpendicular walls of the mountain just under the Ucka tunnel. Some say that it is a phenomenon created by the erosion and dissolving of the carsic soil which forms huge caverns. Others say that in geological ages past this was a huge grotto and the rising rock formations that we see are stalagmites that formed inside the grottos. Whatever the cause, it is impressive to see the rock formations rising 10 to 50 metres from the ground. They are now used for rock climbing though there was no one there on Wednesday. They all have names too – La candela, il guanto, la tore grande. The first person to climb one of these in the 1930’swas Emilio Comici a famous Alpaniste from Trieste. The highest tower is named Comici.
It was late in the afternoon and the canyon was in the shade but the rock formations stood up white and tall in the soft spring sunset light. The canyon itsel is a tree covered and dark green but alos a bit arid looking. At the far end looking to the left is a railway track and two elevated roads (viadotte) at the entrance of the Ucka tunnel. Apparently the railway tracks are no longer in use and I could hear people’s voices and then saw a dog and two persons along the railway tracks. Amazing how far up the voices can carry. At the horizon also looking left I could see Monte Maggiore with the round white radar ball, the tv antenna and the tower where we had lunch – a bit surreal to think that I had actually walked up to that summit.