Day 20: Velebit National Park to Sugarska Hut

Unfortunately another night with no sleep. There are some serious snorers in the hut and it’s too hot in there and my legs are so itchy from another run-in with nettles the previous day. We head out early after a quick cold porridge for breakfast—we usually cold-soak oats and chia seeds overnight for breakfast in the morning. Gordon gives us each an apple and some hot coffee, such a treat for us! It’s the simple things you start to appreciate when you’re on the trail.

We hike just a few hours, stopping on the way for a quick climb up a peak called Velibaba for some amazing views.

We reach a roadside hostel/restaurant called Baske Ostarije. We’re told they have good food and we’re ready for a meal. We have just enough food in our packs for 6 days of hiking. This stretch is more remote than the others and we won’t be passing through any towns so we really need to ration what food we have. The meal is so good! We are in heaven. I get a white coffee (espresso with lots of milk), an omelet, potatoes, and a plate of prosciutto which I eat a bit of and pack the rest out for sandwiches on trail the next few days. With bellies full of good food we’re back on trail heading towards a mountain hut called Sugarska where we hear there’s a rain water cistern. It’s super hot this afternoon and the trail is up and down and all over the place. I see my first bear! Express is in front of me and I hear some thrashing around and think maybe she’s fallen. I yell out to her and then see a huge brown mass come dropping down from a tree and it starts running down the trail directing towards me. I totally panic and just scream, “It’s a bear!!!” Luckily the bear turns just before it reaches me and heads up the hill. Whew! Super scary but also so cool to see it so close! The rest of the afternoon is really rough. At the top of a big climb I reach for my water because I’m sweating like crazy, but my water isn’t there. I either left it at the restaurant or it fell out of my pack while climbing over some downed trees. I’m devastated and immediately start crying. We still have at least 5 miles until we reach the hut and the trail is difficult. Express is so nice and gives me some of her water. I struggle for the last few miles of uphill to the shelter. I run out of water and feel so lightheaded and dehydrated. My legs are like lead. At one point I slump over my trekking poles and start crying, but then tell myself to suck it up and get to the hut.

I finally get to the hut and all my troubles disappear. It’s absolutely beautiful! And there’s cold water! I cry tears of joy, collapse on the bench outside, and chug a liter of water. The hut is amazing, a cool modern structure on top of a saddle surrounded by peaks. We both agree that we would want to live here, it’s the perfect tiny home. Later in the evening a Swiss couple arrives at the hut to spend the night. We’re kind of bummed because we want the place to ourselves and I’m worried I’ll have another sleepless night if they’re loud or snore. I’m such a light sleeper, it sucks. Unfortunately they snore and their sleeping pads are so loud, every movement they make sounds like thunder. I’m super annoyed and can’t sleep and it’s really hot and stuffy so I take my sleeping bag outside and sleep on the bench out front. It’s actually a beautiful night and the sky is so clear. I stargaze for a while, see some incredible shooting stars streaking across the sky, and drift in and out of sleep, enjoying the fresh air and gentle breeze on my face.

Sugarska Hut

Sunset from the hut

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