In the autumn of 2009 David and I completed one of the most exciting and exhilarating walking trips we have ever done, a grand walking tour in the Julian Alps. Since our first visit to Slovenia in 2001 we had always dreamed of climbing Triglav and incorporating this challenge into a circular walk and sleeping in the mountain huts in the Julian Alps. It was a walk that we will remember and cherish all our lives.
Slovenians are proud of their hiking prowess and the mountain huts enable those who love the “Great Outdoors” to stay for days or weeks amidst the high peaks. Huts is a bad translation of koča or dom as these buildings provide clean accommodation, including bedding, warmth and good basic food. There is always a warm welcome and, even with only a few words of Slovenian, it is easy to communicate. The huts are run by various walking clubs and usually there are 2 or 3 people in charge who spend the summer months cheerfully catering to the needs of the hungry, weary walker. Generally there is never more than 5 hours walking between the huts.
With many routes to choose from and a choice of accommodation we found it easy to plan a tour that allowed us to start and finish from the same place and, what was truly magical, we could see where we had come from and where we were heading many times on the journey. As everything you are going to need has to be carried on your back, careful preparation is essential. In addition to the usual necessary walking equipment only a little extra is needed in order to stay in the huts. Just the basics are needed in the washing department as water is very limited, so don’t expect a shower! A torch is recommended for use in the dormitories at night, but you will have one in your pack anyway. Carry a spare set of clothes to wear in the evening and enough cash in your pocket to pay for your bed and meals and you are set to go.
Our holiday started with a pleasant walk from Ribčev Laz, passing by Lake Bohinj, to Stara Fužina, from where we climbed up the well way-marked but steep path to Planina Uskovnica. A quick bite of lunch, sitting in the warm sunshine beside the pretty chapel there, was followed by a long traversing walk, mainly through trees, around the head of the Voje Valley where we met the main path from Rudno Polje to Triglav. We were clear of the trees and we would not walk in them again for the next week. Having made our height for the day it was then an easy traverse around to our first hut, Vodnikov Dom at 1817m.
Unusually, no one in the hut seemed to speak any English, but with our very basic Slovenian we had soon secured a room for the night and had a refreshing cup of tea in our hands. Supper was vegetable soup and bread and more tea, soon followed by an early night and falling to sleep to the sound of cow-bells drifting up from Velo polje just below.
Day One stats – 6 1/2hrs walking, approx 1400m of ascent.
Breakfast was two fried eggs, a slice of bread and a cup of tea (just over 5Eur each) which was to become oue morning ritual. Today’s walk to reach Dom Valentino Staniča pod Triglavom, named after the man who first accurately measured the height of Triglav, was only a three hour hike and a further 500m climb. Setting off we could see Dom Planika high above us but Triglav behind, was shrouded in mist. From Konjsko sedlo we traversed below the cliffs of Ržki podi and around Rž to descend slightly to the hut. What a wonderful position this hut commands, surrounded by high peaks yet accessible from the Kot and Vrata valleys and fine views across to the Karavanke on the Austrian border. After lunch we dumped our rucksacks and explored the nearby peak of Visoka Vrbanova špica (2408m). Later on in the evening, chatting with our host we discovered that we would be unable to stay at Triglavski Dom at Kredarica or Dom Planika on Saturday because they were fully booked. We would have to stay here another two nights.
Day Two stats – 4hrs walking, approx 600m of ascent.