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Updated: Mar 31, 2020

I had the best of intentions to make this Blog a useful resource for guests by documenting our hiking and biking adventures however, I must admit in recent months I have embraced the exploration part while my efforts at recording our adventures has been a bit lacklustre. By early June, Summer had finally arrived in the valley and with the last of the snow melting in the high peaks we had a long list of routes we were keen to check out. While we manage to fit in a range of activities during the week including swimming in the lake, trail running and biking, our weekend hikes have turned into a bit of a ritual where we rise early on either Saturday or Sunday and head out the door for a long day in the mountains.

These adventures can last anywhere from 7-12hrs and usually include; a stop at a mountain hut (Koča), lots of vertical ascent and descent, a bit of deviation from the planned route.... sometimes by choice and other times by accident, and they often (if not always) end with beer and pizza because cooking at the end of a long day in the mountains is normally out of the question.

On a recent outing we decided to explore the Komna Plateau at the western end of the valley high above Ukanc, so we departed the house around 6am and headed off along the northern edge of the lake towards Slap Savica. The approach to the foot of the climb is about 8km from Stara Fužina and took around 90mins with the cool morning air making the conditions quite pleasant for walking.

From Kôca Pri Savici (650m) we followed an old WW1 supply route ascending via a series of hairpins in the shade of a lovely beech forest. After 60mins of steady climbing the valley opens up to the west and we continued our ascent on a fairly gentle gradient for a further 30mins before arriving at the turn-off for Dom na Komna (1520m), around 9am. Instead of taking the short detour to Komna we opted to push on for another 15mins to Kôca pod Bogatinom where we stopped for the mandatory strudel and enjoyed a bit of friendly banter with the hut staff.

After leaving the hut we continued westward following a beautiful scenic path above the Gracija Valley which eventually delivered us to the foot of Bogatin. At the head of the valley the route becomes slightly steeper as you make the final ascent onto the saddle of Bogantinska vracta (1803m). Here the trail turns left and climbs a fairly steep ridge towards the summit of Bogatin (1977m). There is a little bit of scrambling just below the summit but the route is well marked and the view from the top is well worth the effort. The summit is narrow and exposed but provides sweeping views in every direction.

At this point it was just after 11am and the weather was perfect so we decided to descend the south ridge and climb the neighboring peak of Mahavšček (2008m) as it seemed enticingly close. The descent down the other side of Bogatin was steep and loose under foot but within 30mins we managed to descend and had climbed the opposite ridge to Mahavšček, which provided equally spectacular view but this time to the south towards Tolmin and the upper Soča valley.

From the top we decided to descend via a different route and explore a bit of uncharted territory on our way back to Dom na Komna so we followed the SE ridge down off the peak before descending via a series of switchbacks into the valley below. By this time the temps in the valley below were starting to climb but the scenery was lovely with wild flowers in bloom and WW1 military ruins scattered along our path. Arriving at Dom na Komna around 2pm, some 8hrs after leaving the house we were both hot and hungry so we ordered a cold beer and some hearty Koča fare to give us a bit of a lift for the final push.

With energy stores topped up it was time to bring this adventure to a close, so we descended via our original route to the valley below. I won't lie it felt pretty good to finish the descent to Savica and after buying a couple of icecreams we set off at a leisurely pace along the path towards the lake. Our final stop of the day was for a swim at Ukanc and after more than 10hrs on our feet the cool refreshing waters of Lake Bohinj had never felt so good. Feeling refreshed we changed back into our sweaty clothing and walked the final few kilometers back along the lakes edge to the house.

To summarize the day in numbers; we walked approximately 40 odd kilometers with 1790m of ascent. Total time for this adventure was around 11hrs 30mins with about 10hrs of that in motion. If you're looking for a fantastic hike to do I cannot recommend this one enough as the views are amazing, the route out of the valley is relatively gentle compared to some of the other options available (Suha) and if you wanted to shorten it you can easily start from Savica, which will make it a more manageable 20+km.

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Updated: Jan 27, 2020

It’s taken more than a week to muster the energy to write this blog post. You see earlier this month I ran a 53km mountain marathon while Ali and her niece Rachel tackled the equally challenging 32km trail race, and this was off the back of 36hrs of international travel having just returned from a visit to Australia two days earlier. What on earth were we thinking?

When we signed up for the Ultra Trail Vipava Valley (UTVV) earlier this year it seemed like a great idea, combining one of our favorite pastimes, mountain running with beautiful scenery and the opportunity to explore a new part of Slovenia we hadn’t previously visited. Renowned for its wineries and stone fruit including cherries, apricots and peaches, Vipava Valley nestles near the Italian border in the south-west of the country. The valley’s mild climate combined with its proximity to the sea make it perfect for winemaking and in 2018 Lonely Planet named the Vipava Valley one of its top 10 places to visit in Europe.

So all that sounds pretty enticing right….. except that after we entered, I realized much to my dismay that the race fell just two weeks after my Fathers 80th Birthday, another event we were firmly committed to attending... and so we decided to just accept our lot and embrace the suck.

Still suffering from jet lag we decided to head down to Vipava on Friday afternoon to pick up our race pack and familiarize ourselves with the area as it was an early start the following morning and we would be driving down from Ljubljana. After picking up our numbers and taking some time to wander around the race expo, it was back to Ljubljana for an early dinner and then to bed.

Saturday dawned early with a 4.30am start and we were quickly loaded up and on the road. Shortly after arriving I was boarding a bus to Vipavski Kriz, which was the starting point for the 50km. The girls meanwhile had several hours to burn as the 30km race didn’t start until 10am so they headed back to the truck to grab some breakfast and relax.

Arriving in Vipavski Kriz, a small village perched on a hill that apparently dates back to pre-Roman times I made a mental note that this was definitely a place I would like to come back to and explore. However, on this day my primary objective was to simply stay warm until my race so I huddled inside a small café just a few meters from the starting line and awaited my fate.

At 8am the starter fired his gun and several hundred runners, myself included set off through the narrow cobbled streets of the village before entering a small trail which descended the hillside to the farmland below. We were briefly reduced to a walk as several hundred people were funneled into this narrow section, however once we emerged at the bottom of the hill the route opened up and runners found there natural speeds and settled in for the long day ahead.

I won’t attempt to give a long blow by blow account of the day as it unfolded but instead I will share some of the highlights (and lowlights) that followed. Firstly, the scenery did not disappoint… the Vipava Valley is in a word spectacular and the area is a must see for anyone visiting Slovenia. Over the next 20 odd kilometers I ran through quaint villages and rolling hills covered with fruit trees and grape vines taking in some spectacular vistas. Unfortunately, vistas tend to involve climbing and this course had plenty of that, in fact we had accumulated more than 1000m of ascent before starting the long (10km) climb up Mount Nanos by which time the reality of what I had signed up for was starting to sink in.

At this point I’m afraid my pitch for tourism Vipava comes to an end as the natural beauty of the area was being overshadowed by the overwhelming reality of what I’d gotten myself into. The climb up Nanos felt like a death march as it followed a series of steep trails in and out of the forest before finally emerging on to a long exposed ridge line which led up to the summit. There is no denying the views at this point were breathtaking, however I was too tired to enjoy the scenery and found myself focused on putting one foot in front of the other as I willed my way to the top.

As I left the top of Nanos and commenced my descent with approximately 14km to go, I felt elated to be running on a logging road and making good time for the first time in hours. This feeling however was short lived and it wasn’t long before I was back on rocky technical terrain and my forward progress returned to a crawl. Ticking over the 50km mark, I think it’s fair to say the final 3km of this course were some of the most soul-destroying kilometers of the day. The terrain continued to be incredibly technical making it very difficult to find a rhythm and the constant pounding from the descent had left my legs in tatters.

Leaving the trail and making the final steep descent into Vipava on the road I crossed the finish line thoroughly exhausted in a time of 7hrs 55mins. I found the girls perched on the steps in the town square, Ali had finished her 32km race just a few minutes before me (in 5hrs 54min) while Rachel had arrived about 15mins earlier (in 5hrs 41min). Both had experienced a tough day out but had come through with flying colors, however we were all reserving our opinions on the race for the time being as the experience was still a little raw at this early stage.

Rachel, who was moving much better than any of us at this point, kindly offered to go and buy a round of beers which went down a treat. Then we hobbled off to the truck opting to head back to Ljubljana in order to grab a shower before going out for a celebratory dinner.

All in all, despite less than perfect preparation I think our UTVV adventure was a success and after a good dinner and a few drinks later that evening there was even some discussion about returning for the 2020 edition. Regardless I am certain Ali and I will be heading back to Vipava this Summer but this time I suspect our visit will be more focused on wine tasting and sampling some of the areas culinary treats.

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Updated: Mar 31, 2020

Alright…. I have a confession to make, the weather isn’t always perfect in Bohinj. In fact, the past week has been a mixture of rain and fog as Winter wages one final assault on Spring, which has visibly arrived here in the valley in recent weeks.

In some ways the bad weather is a blessing in disguise as it provides us with a legitimate excuse to stay indoors and catch up on work and other chores we have been neglecting. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve blown off work of late after seeing clear skies and near perfect snow conditions on the webcam at our local ski mountain (Vogel). For some reason the promise of sunshine and freshly groomed snow always trumps sitting at my desk but the patter of rain on the attic roof over the past week has made this unsavory activity an easier pill to swallow.

That said... by Sunday with our to-do lists well and truly under control, we were ready to head back outdoors, and didn't intend to let a little bit of bad weather stand in our way. With the rain easing around 10am we set off for Vogar and decided to reassess our route options after the first 500m of ascent was out of the way. Arriving at the lookout, we found ourselves blanketed in heavy fog, a stark contrast from the sweeping views we normally enjoy. Despite the limited visibility the dry weather appeared to be holding so we pressed on opting to follow a logging road we hadn’t previously explored, which ran parallel above the hiking trail to Prsivec.

As we continued our climb into the dense fog it wasn’t long before the grass was replaced by fresh snow and temperatures began to plummet. We eventually rejoined the trail to Prsivec and decided to push on a further 500m to a lookout high above the lake. While our efforts were rewarded with a dramatic view of the lake shrouded in fog, we were both starting to feel the cold, so we took a few pictures and quickly set off back the way we had come.

Dropping down out of the snowline the temperatures began to climb and with the greenery returning our frozen digits were finally starting to thaw. Approaching Vogar we opted to descend using the access road that winds down into the valley via 6kms of switchbacks. Arriving back in the village it was as if we had returned from another planet. The battle lines are drawn.... Winter continues to hold the high ground, Spring has firmly entrenched itself in the valley and Summer is on its way. Bring on the Summer!!

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