We take a trail zero (a day off on trail without going into town) at Busko Lake. It storms on us for most of the day but I’m happy for an excuse to lay in my tent and read and write and nap. In the afternoon there’s a break in the storm for a few hours, just enough time to take a dip in the lake, rinse our clothes out, and lay in the sun. The day ends with one of those magical sunsets that just keeps getting better every minute.
We’re refreshed from our relaxing lake day and walk about 8 miles into a town called Prisoje. It has a market where we resupply for the next stretch (they have peanut butter!!!) and a small cafe where we have coffee and use the WiFi to prep for the next stages. The trail today is another gravel road walk, but it’s up on a ridge so there’s decent views. We pass under wind turbines and power lines. A woman drives by and stops to ask us if we need anything, her two little girls grinning out the window at us. We’re ok since we just stopped at the market, but we are once again so impressed by people’s kindness towards us here.
We reach camp in the early evening, a spring tucked into a valley on the outskirts of town. The water is so fresh and cold and there’s a perfect grassy area with a picnic table where we set up our tents. As we’re brushing our teeth and getting ready for bed (even though it’s still light out) we receive all sorts of visitors. Apparently the spring is the town hangout. There’s a group of kids on dirt bikes, zooming up and down the hill, a couple who don’t speak English who sit down with us to smoke a cigarette, a group of young guys who planned to sit here and drink beer. They’re all surprised that we’re camped here and we feel bad for taking over their spot, but no one seems to mind.
In the morning we hike a few miles into Brezovac and stop at Cafe Lovre. They don’t have typical breakfast food on the menu so I order a baked potato and cappuccino. I end up with French fries. Not an ideal breakfast, but still delicious. With the language barrier it’s too difficult to try to send anything back, and ordering food is always an adventure, so we just shrug and accept whatever happens to come out.
We have a steep uphill ahead of us. Express takes off in front of me and I see her way up the hill but off trail. She’s too far for me to yell at her so I continue to follow the trail and hope she finds a good way to reconnect with it. The trail is really well marked and easy to follow and I feel like I’m making good time, then suddenly all markings disappear. I keep checking the gps but can’t find the trail so I look at the map and just make my own route. I have no idea where Express is. After following a dry stream bed to where it intersects the trail I’m so relieved to see Express. She’s got blood all over her arms and legs—she ended up having to army crawl through a bunch of bushes after losing the trail earlier.
We take a lunch break and Express heads out a few minutes before me. The afternoon is spent playing connect the dots—there’s no defined trail, just a series of red and white bullseyes painted on the rocks here and there. I’m listening to music and having fun trying to find each dot and plan my route, plus the views are spectacular. I’m in great spirits when I meet up with Express a few hours later but she’s not happy at all. Between losing the trail this morning and having trouble with the dots this afternoon she’s frustrated and over it. It seems like when one of us has a terrible time in a section the other will have the complete opposite experience, but it keeps us going. If we were both miserable there’s a good chance we might quit.
We find a great place to camp next to an old cottage. There’s a fire ring so Express builds us a fire and we sit and have dinner. This is our first campfire on the trail and our spirits are boosted, it’s a perfect way to end the day.