Taiano- Slavnik Slovenia
Sunday June 15th
The Sunday caminatta was a “wait and see what the morning brings”. The last 10 days have been above average hot and humid for the beginning of June – over 30 plus humidex. The sun hits my south facing balcony around 13:00 and beats down on it until about 18:00. The first couple of days of sultry heat were really enjoyable. I pulled shut the “tende” canvass curtains that run on a rail the circumference of the balcony and enjoyed sitting out there in the relaxing heat. The mistake I made was leaving all the windows open. My apartment was suffocatingly hot. I was expecting the temperature to drop over night like in Ottawa. But the temperatures stayed consistently in the high 20’s plus high humidity so the apartment kept getting hotter and hotter and the air was absolutely stagnant outside and inside. Going for groceries was like walking in a furnace and even the grocery store did not feel cool. I don’t know if they have AC. Then the last part of the uphill climb to the apartment made me realize that I really have to get more organized. First, I have to make sure that I close all the windows, shutters, and tende right away in the morning even though I would prefer to have the light streaming in. Then I have to have a supply of water on hand. As much as in Ottawa I almost never, never run my AC, by Saturday I was seriously longing for air conditioning and or the Pebble Court pool!
Then Saturday around 3 in the morning the bora started and I was very hopeful that it would bring some relief from the oppressive heat. The bora is a strong northeasterly wind with even stronger wind gusts and we were not sure if it would also bring rain.
The morning dawns sunny and the humidity is gone. The temperature is now low 20’s and it feels good. So the walk to Taiano is on – this time from Presnica. Presnnica is a small village of about 300 inhabitants living in carsic stone houses, dating back likely to the medieval ages. The trail once started here but apparently the residents became fed up with all the car traffic.
We park the car in a small clearing beside a vineyard and just below a railway track where someone is hard at work with a weed whacker – seriously disturbing the quiet of the country morning!
The trail heads into a coniferous forest, cool and shady, with pine cones scattered all along the path. We start out a bit later than usual because Italy was playing in the World Cup last night and the start time was midnight in Trieste. So one of our hiking companions was up quite late but the Azzuri were victorious so all is good! We stop for lunch in a clearing beside a small pool of water. Again, I think to myself how great it is to be out doors and no mosquitoes!
We are still heading up hill and now we come out into a meadow. It is the day of the butterflies. The trail takes us through grasses that are about thigh high and are blowing back and forth vigorously with the bora. The meadow is full of flowers of every color, and full of white butterflies, white striped butterflies, smaller tiger striped butterflies, orangey colored butterflies, small brown grasshoppers, shiny green beetles. As we walk the butterflies scamper from their perches on the flowers, so many that it feels like confetti thrown into the air all around us. The grasshoppers follow suit and all around us butterflies and grasshoppers are in constant movement. I cannot understand with this blustery wind how the butterflies are able to land on the flowers, which are in constant movement. Airplane radar landing is nothing compared to the ability of these butterflies to find a flower to perch on. All around us is constant motion, the grasses and flowers moving in long undulating waves, the butterflies floating up and around, the grasshoppers catapulting off the leaves. It is like being in a Disney animation with the wind as the soundtrack.
We reach a clearing and are treated to a preview of the what we will see from the summit – the Gulf of Trieste, Capodistria, Muggia and the capogita points out the anticima– the summit before the summit. The wind is even gustier here.
The trail takes us through a glady forest of old beech trees. We come to a fork (bivio)in the trail and are in a grassy clearing. The capogita asks if we would like to go to the anticima with its communications towers or to the rifugio. The trails down would be sifferent depending on which fork in the road we take. I ask to go to the rifugio because it would be my third time up to Taiano’s summit and it feels amazing to be able to say I have done this three times!
We head up the road across the open area that leads to the rifugio and I am very happy to say to myself that I recognize the trail and the surroundings. The wind is quite blustery as always here and this I remember well because the last time up here the wind was icy cold and I had to put gloves on.
There is only one couple with a playful black dog at the rifugio, quite surprising considering how many people were there the first time in March. I follow the capogita to the summit which is about 10 metres above the rifugio. The capogita points to the various mountain tops but the wind is so strong it is literally blowing his words away and I cannot hear what he is saying. The rifugio has what amounts to a log book where you sign your name and how many times you have been to the summit. Looking back at the pages I see that some people have been here 138 times and most of the names have more than 50 visits to the summit. The capogita logs our names. There is also a stamp pad and rubber stamp with the name of the mountain on it so that you can keep a record of your summits. I am happy to say that I am now in the possession of a piece of paper with the Slavnik stamp on it.
The first time I was here in March the field leading to the rifugio was arid, icy cold and we saw some snow on the way up through the leafless woods. Today it is an alpine meadow. Green grasses blowing in the wind dotted everywhere with purple, pink, yellow, flowers of every hue. The meadow is almost hip high and I suddenly spot a tiny, singular, bright orange flower. As I get a closer look I see it is a miniature tiger lily with the characteristic leafy single stem but no bigger than my thumb nail – a Lilliputian size. We take a few pictures and as I look around I spot more of these tiny orange flowers that stand out like little beacons among the much taller grasses and flowers. I cannot believe it – I am in this verdant, colorful, alpine meadow on a beautiful summer day.
The descent is through a shady ravine of sorts with a steep and humus covered trail – the beech leaves are more than ankle deep. I have to plant my poles firmly in front of me not to be pulled forward too quickly by force of gravity and the slippery leaves. Here we are protected from the wind by the walls of the ravine and now it is feeling much warmer. This part of the descent takes about 1 hour and now we are out of the shade of the ravine and onto a carsic stone trail.
Now you really have to watch where you put each foot because the rocks are loose and your feet slip, the ankles turning outwards. I look up and am about 10 meters from what looks like a gravel road. The rest of the group is quite a bit ahead of me and I can’t see them as I have stopped to take pictures of the flowers. A sharp pain in my ankle stops me, I try to step forward but another sharp pain so I rotate my ankle a bit, take a slow step forward, but again the sharp pain. The capogita has noticed that I am not with the group. He has come back and tells me to try and keep walking. Slowly I get to the road and when my foot is on a flat surface everything feels ok again. We follow this gravel road, flower filled pastures, and newly mown hay on both sides, back to the car. The cylindrical bales of hay are huge and we wonder how much they could weigh. “ Boys will be boys” and they had to test out their various guesses as to the weight of the hay!
Dinner at the Gostilna Pod Slavnik – slices of wild boar, venison in a brown gravy, and the best part tasty cheese filled ravioli with porcini mushrooms, fusi and gnocchi with a nice malvasia!
When I look at my ankle on Monday morning I see that it is a bruised green color. Luckily it does not hurt and I head out to the Eurospar to stock up on water because the forecast is for hot weather coming again for the week-end!