My body is feeling beat up! This hike has been challenging to say the least. The extreme ups and downs, the road walking, bush-whacking, rocky terrain, sometimes non-existent trail, plus the fact that I haven’t done any hiking since finishing the PCT last September, all of it is starting to take its toll on me. My legs are covered in bites and scratches and some weird rash and we have to check for ticks every time we stop for a break because they’re everywhere. I’m struggling on the uphills and having a hard time keeping up with the others. And the sweat! I can’t remember when I’ve sweat so much. It’s a combo of the heat, humidity, and the exertion but I just keep telling myself it’s good for me, I’m detoxing and my skin will be glowing, right? Or I might just slump over in the middle of an uphill climb and pass out from dehydration. At least the wild strawberries will be easier to pick if I’m laying down.
As much as it’s been physically draining I still have to stop ever now and then and look at my incredibly beautiful surroundings and marvel at how fortunate and grateful I am to be here in foreign lands with such beautiful people. It’s so rewarding to see these small remote parts of Slovenia that tourists never see. The tiny villages where every house is covered with window boxes overflowing with red geraniums, the meticulously maintained gardens and wood piles. The people here really know how to work with and live off the land. It seems to be such a simple, peaceful, beautiful life….
On July 4th we hike to Snežnic Castle, pay 5 Euro to see inside the castle, and are bummed when we find out we can’t just look around on our own, we have to take the guided tour, which is agonizing because our legs are tired and all we want to do is sit down and eat but we don’t want to be rude. We sadly have to say goodbye to Stats here, he is heading back to Switzerland to finish up his exams. So now our group is down to three again. We leave the castle, more bush-whacking, a walk through some nasty stinging nettles, then mostly road walking until we find a place to camp. It’s an exhausting day, our first 20+ miler so far. I’m so tired but I’m kept awake all night by the sound of wild boars all around our tents, snorting and squealing and kicking lots of rocks around, really creepy and annoying!
The next morning I feel awful, super tired and sick to my stomach. I’m bummed because this morning we only have about 3 km to walk to a mountain hut where they serve breakfast. I’ve been craving breakfast and coffee for so long but right now it sounds terrible. At the hut I nibble on a few bites of egg and eat some bread and jam but that’s about all I can stomach. It also sucks I’m feeling crappy because right after breakfast is a huge climb up to the summit of Mt Snežnic, the highest peak in Slovenia outside of the Alps. I put on my headphones for the first time on this trip and take it slow and somehow muster the energy to make it to the top.
The rest of the day is tedious walking on forest roads. The monotony and the fact that I am still feeling sick and haven’t eaten anything all day are making me feel weird and light-headed and I’m having almost out-of-body experiences. It’s super weird and all I want to do is curl up in a ball and sleep. I’m not sure if I have a bug of some sort or it’s just pure exhaustion, or maybe a combo of both. We’re all running low on water but can’t find anything anywhere, so I resort to filtering a muddy puddle in a tire track on the road. It’s not the greatest water but I know I’m dehydrated and it’s better than nothing.
We end up camping at some memorial for a hospital from WWII. It’s right at the intersection of two forest roads, super visible, but there’s a nice flat patch of grass and we are all so exhausted that we don’t care if someone sees us. I fall asleep instantly and only wake up a few times during the night by some insane thunderstorms passing overhead. Tomorrow morning we will be in our last Slovenian town, Babno Polje, where we will cross the border into Croatia and sadly say goodbye to Simon as he has to return to Sweden to get back to work.