After finishing my thru hike of the PCT last September I could do nothing but dream of other long-distance trails to explore. Laying in bed one morning trying to cope with my post-trail depression, I began googling long-distance trails on my phone. That’s when I read a tag line for a National Geographic article that piqued my interest. “Journey across 7 countries on the world’s newest long-distance trail: Hiking this 1200 mile long trail along the Dinaric Alps is worth the trek.” Dinaric Alps…never heard of them. I suck at geography and I’ve never been to Europe, but after reading the article I found out that the trail spans the Balkan countries (former Yugoslavia) on the east side of the Adriatic Sea along the spine of the Dinaric Alps. It starts in Slovenia and continues south through Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro, and ends in Albania. Seems like a pretty cool place to explore. The stunning photos in the article along with the fact that it’s a new trail (which I’ve now learned is not actually 100% complete) had me hooked. After hiking the PCT which has gained an insane amount of popularity in recent years and has in some sections become a super-highway crowded with hikers, the idea of hiking a new trail that no one’s really heard of was definitely appealing.
I mentioned that I was planning to thru-hike this trail (the Via Dinarica) to my friend and PCT family member Express (trail name, her real name is Brittanie). I met her during my first week on the PCT and we ended up hiking the majority of the trail together. I was so excited and relieved that she was up for the adventure and wanted to join me! I was prepared to hike it alone, but the newness of the trail along with the route-finding and bush-whacking that would be involved were a little intimidating, not to mention that I’d be in several foreign countries and I’m pretty much a newbie to international travel. And even better news is that a couple other members of our PCT trail family will be joining us for the beginning of the hike! Simon from Sweden (trail name Tots) will be meeting us in Italy and Moritz from Switzerland (aka Stats) will be meeting us in Slovenia. They don’t have time to do the entire trail, but I’m so excited to hike with these guys again, even if it’s just for a week or so.
Express and I will be flying to London and then on to Venice to meet up with Simon. From Venice we’ll take a train to Trieste where we’ll start hiking on the Via Alpina red trail to where it meets up with the Via Dinarica white trail in Slovenia. Stats will meet us in Slovenia and then we’ll continue south.
Currently the plan is to hike the entire Via Dinarica trail which should take a little under 2 months (it’s around 800 miles, not 1200 like Nat Geo advertised) and then we’ll hike the 500 mile Camino de Santiago pilgrimage trail. Most likely we will take the most popular route, the Camino Frances, which begins in France and heads west across Spain, ending at Santiago de Compostela. We’re also interested in the route through Portugal, so we might just end up doing both!
The adventure begins June 25 when we fly to London. Right now I’m tying up loose ends at work and paring down my belongings to only what will fit in a 5′ x 8′ storage unit. I’m trying to prep a bit for the trail by looking at maps and blogs of past hikers, but there’s not much info out there and all the foreign names are so darn confusing…not a lot of vowels in those Balkan languages.
I bought a one-way plane ticket, so my return date is unknown. I plan on keeping a journal and posting as often as I can with updates and photos. I’m excited for the adventure and to be back on the trail again!