Podgorje Sunday March 9, 2014
A clustered settlement nestled in the foothills of Mt Slavnik (1028m). You can start the ascent to Mt Slavnik from here but we started in Skadanscina. We park the car in front of a small religious altar alongside the road. There are already a number of cars parked in what is a gravel clearing alongside the road – do not think asphalt and white lines marking the parking spots! We head down the raod past a weathered barn with its wide doors locked shut, past a recently constructed multileveled white house, some older houses and then turn left down a country road. I see a small animal on a long lead in front of a weathered building and at first I think it is a short legged dog but then realize it is a goat. We walk past the group of a dozen or so tan colored milk cows eating from a pile of hay – they are behind an electrified fence. We continue down the road along a pasture with knee high dry rock walls that you see everywhere in Istria. Then we turn left at the fork and into the forest.
The walk is through beech forests and winds slowly uphill, a little like cutbacks on a mountain road. We stop for lunch after a couple of hours. A young couple with a toddler in a back pack and a little girl maybe 5 years old walk by us. Everyone says, dobar dan, slave, bondi – climbing greetings. There are small patches on melting snow under the trees.
As we near the summit the wind really picks up and it is a quite a cool wind. The last part of the climb is getting harder. I find it hard to catch my breath and want to stop. I am told to keep walking because by this point I am very sweaty and stopping would mean getting very cold. The capogita drops back with me and makes small talk and tells me we are only two hundred meters or so away. I have no sense of distance and 200 metres is meaningless. Now the thought running through my mind is – will we ever stop this uphill climb! We reach a bit of a knoll and there ahead is the rifugio and lots of people on all sides of the summit. By now the wind is icy and strong.
We find a spot on the benches lining the wall and are sheltered from the wind. People are seated all along the wall looking out on the view below, having tea and strudel, eating their lunches, drinking beer, wine. Men change out of their wet shirts into dry shirts. I go into the rifugio to the bathroom and change as well. Now I feel more comfortable. It is actually nice and sunny and warm where we are seated and I do some people watching. Lots of Slovenians, young families carrying toddlers in back packs, young children, lots of really fit people in their trekking gear. The capogita takes me to the actual summit with its indicator rocks and I can hardly stand on my feet, the wind is that strong. But I feel exhilarated. I made it to the summit.
The walk back feels much easier. We reach a crosspoint to other trails, lots of trails to get to the summit. We take the Mala Vrata trail back. The walk back is through beech forests, silvery barks and tall and lots of brown leaves under foot. Also spring flowers everywhere. The large rocks are covered with a bright green moss, rounded and fairy tale feeling.
We pass walk on the narrow dirt road again, pastures starting to green on both sides. When we reach the barn – the horse has head outside and the goat is still tetherd, they watch us go by. About 5 hours of walking and we are back at the car. And time for dinner at a Gostilna.