Up to this walk I have been in training/evaluation status. The capogita started out selecting walks where he could check out how far I could walk – the ferrovia, pista ciclabile,Strada Napoleonica, then how I could handle the slippery carsic rocks – M. te Spaccato, then how do I handle walking on a crest and looking straight down-Crni Kal, how do I handle a slow uphill – M. te Auremiano, then how do I handle a real summit with a steeper uphill- M.te Slavnik. OK I seemed to have passed all those tests and this Sunday we are headed to M. te Sisol in Croatia. I am told a number of times beforehand to make sure that if I am not comfortable with the walk, if I need water, if I need to stop to not be afraid and just say so. I am also given two different walking guides to read up on this walk. I see that the descriptions all say that there is an unparalleled view of Istria and the coast from the summit.
I also know that last year I saw the same coastline from a lookout along the coastal highway and it was stunning.
There were 11 people on the walk, and only 1 was younger than me. The walk started immediately uphill at what I considered was a military pace in a small town in Croatia called Plomin. I kept up for the first third, lagged behind for the second third. Then I found myself was quite light headed and I tell myself that I am not used to the harsh glare off the rocks. I have to stop and catch my breath at the end of the second leg. Not only am I light headed, my stomach is churning and I am way over heated. It is about 18C, not a cloud in the sky, a glaring sun, I have stripped down from my black Arcteryx up to -40C hoodie (way overdone but instinctively I am dressed for frost bite weather in March and I even have gloves in my backpack), my all weather shirt is off, and I am in my base level undershirt and I don’t care what I look like because my body temperature is in the very hot range. My pant legs are rolled up even though I know you should not do this because of those insects (lime disease but not in the spring). I am later told not to do this again….A lady whose son did his masters degree in California starts to walk with me. She wants to practise her English and luckily for me it keeps my mind off the how hot I am and how dizzy I feel. The suggestion is made that we stop for lunch. But the troop wants to head onto the summit and I feel really badly because there is no way I can keep going and a couple of people have to stay with me so they will not be achieving their objective of making the summit. It is not easy to explain but I could not catch my breath while everyone else just trudged along. I am so overheated that even eating my panin is hard but after about 30 minutes my body temperature feels ok and we head out along the trail for another 30 minutes. The view is stunning, but I cannot absorb it all. It is surreal that I am actually on this mountain side, that it is March and a beautiful hot spring day, it is not snowing and minus 20C, that there are purple grape hyacinths everywhere underfoot, the carsic terrain is rocky and unfamiliar, I see the ferry from Krk, and I should know the names of the islands by now Krk, Vela and ?,but I don’t the view of the fjords below is stunning but it is all too surreal and I am floating. By then the group that went to the summit is headed back towards us and we turn around. The trail back is actually not any easier. The steep incline coupled with the slippery carsic rocks keeps me constantly in putting on the brakes muscle tension but I manage to slip and slide my way back down. The vertical drop was 450 metres and we were at about 1300 metres. I felt great making it up to the summit of M te. Slavnik and I feel the opposite now – totally devasted that I did not achieve the objective.
On Monday I wake up with a nice head ache and looking in the mirror I see that the back of my neck and the front of my chest are sunburned. No doubt I was dehydrated and sunburned in March! Good news is that I had no leg muscle pain at all. So the aerobics classes did do some good for the quads and gluts strength but apparently not enough for the aeorbics perspective.