Alpe Ardia Trail – From the glacier to the sea – Hiking the garden of Eden.
This is the beautiful trail of three countries that will take us from the foot of Austria’s highest mountain, Mount Grossglockner, taking us from glaciers, through mountain range, valleys, past rivers and lakes and ending at the Adriatic sea at the harbour town of Trieste Italy. The trail is roughly around 750 km in total and we will be walking in Austria, Slovenia and Italy.
Check out this video clip from http://alpe-adria-trail.com as it gives you a run down of the trail. WARNING : I take NO responsibility for anyone being jealous ♥
A little history of the trail
This trail has not got the history behind it as many of the others we walk as it is a newly created long distance trail developed only in 2012. This trail was developed in partnership with Kärnten Werbung (Austria), Slovenian Tourist Board (Slovenia) and Friuli-Venezia Giulia Tourist Board (Italy). It was designed to be a pleasure trail, easy to walk and mainly through non-Alpine regions. They have named it “Hiking the Garden of Eden”, this being representative of the stunning landscape of the south-side of the Alps.
Well that is what the official Guide book said I would say – It was designed to be a pleasure trail, it isn’t easy to walk and goes through non-Alpine regions as well as Alpine. They have named it “Hiking the Garden of Eden”, this being representative of the stunning landscape of the south-side of the Alps. The scenery is stunning but do be prepared for lots of seriously steep ups and downs especially in the 1st 3/4 of the trail. The km’s given are not always the same as in the book so be prepared to walk more.
Follow us as we spend the month of July 2018 walking this trail and so not to miss a post don’t forget to press follow.
Date of departure is 28th June 2018! so get ready 😉
We are off!
Funny enough (and not planned this way) but we are leaving exactly the same day and flight time as we did two years ago for Norway! We are also starting the walk on the same day and have exactly the same number of days walking. Weird and as one friend said maybe a little spooky.
This flight however is just a little different as we have gone all out and flying …….. Wait for it………business class! I know fancy hey, especially as we are in our hiking gear 😆😆😆 but there is a very special reason for this splurge. You see it is a special year for Mark, yes (he will be shy about it but I’m not 😆) he is turning 50! That’s right. This walk is his 50th birthday walk and on his birthday we will be somewhere between Austria and Slovenia.
At the moment we are between flights enjoying the business lounge waiting for our (delayed) flight to Venice. Don’t mind it’s delayed as I ate so much food on the first flight I need a rest before they give us more food on the second flight 😝😝😝😝
Keep following and I promise to add photos too as we walk along the Alpes to Adria.
Arrived in Venice
After such wonderful flights we touchdown in Venice along with many other flights! “We were stuck for a while in the not moving anywhere anytime soon line” along with many other tired passengers just wanting to get through customs and wanting to get on to their destination.
Once we got through we headed straight to the hotel, freshen up and ready to hit the streets (or should I say canals) of Venice. I have never been here before, Mark has on a few occasions, but it was a strange feeling as we were floating along the canals of “I’ve been here before!”. We would pass a building, dock, cafe Etc and I’m getting the sense of “I know this place”. The truth is I don’t I have just seen countless pictures and endless different movies that have been filmed here. Funny enough we saw a barge set up with filming equipment, filming! Not sure if it’s a movie, or a car add as there was a fancy new BMW there.
We had the chance to walk around and float around for hours through the very busy streets and canals (peek holiday season) till we just couldn’t do no more and found ourselves a lovely restaurant by the canal, had yummy food then made our way back to our hotel to pass out and rest ready for our journey up the Austria tomorrow. (which is today cause I was so tired I didn’t even try to write this yesterday 😆)
We are in Austria and in the mountains!
Today was another day of travel, this time not by plane but by trains, busses and automobile. We made out way from Venice Italy up to Heiligenblut just below Mt. Grossglockner Austria. This is where we will be staying for two nights as our first days walk ends in this village, I’m so glad as this is the cutest village with the most incredible views of not just of Mt. Grossglockner herself but of all the surrounding mountains and the valley below.
Our journey today was far from uneventful even though we had our route well planned. All good plans mean nothing when they decide to cancel the train your meant to take at the start of your day. We were all ready and at the train station early to start the series of trains and busses we needed to catch. Took a while before I left home to work out the best and easiest way to get where we needed to go and it would have been fine but the first step was cancelled and that was the major step. We were suppose to have a 3 hr train ride to get to Villach in Austria then with a 40 min layover before catching another train to Spittal then an hour layover and a bus to Heiligenblut. There are not many options but all doable until the train is cancelled and we get put on a bus.
We were told at the station to walk down the street, cross the road and at a yellow bus sign wait for the bus to take us to Villach. OK easy…… The road had yellow bus signs all the way along……which sign. Thankfully there were many other lost confused people so we all congregated at the one that seemed to be the correct one. Turns out it was luckily, but unlucky for us the bus comes late, leaves even later which means the chance of catching the connecting is minimal. Eventually arriving in Villach we run across to the train station with minutes to spare…. Or not. Stuck behind people not knowing how to use the ticket machine is super frustrating when you have to catch a train. We ended up skipping the ticket and ran to the train to have just missed it!
So we look for the next train which was an hour later, this is OK we can have lunch and if lucky the train will still get us to Spittal in time for us to make the connecting bus. It did!……….not, well technically it did in fact we ran off the train to the bus station with 3 mins to spare…….no bus. That’s right no bus so we thought OK it might be late and we will wait. No didn’t show and when I spoke to another lady (who was waiting too said the local busses are useless, she was not happy).
The lady went and asked others sitting at the bus station about the bus and they said it left early!!!!!! What! We spoke to a taxi driver and got him to take us instead. By now we were tired and it was getting late in the day and we just wanted to be there already. He was telling us on the ride that often the busses just don’t show, well ours showed just left early before the train arrived! We actually passed it on our way up the mountains, and glad we caught the taxi because we got there before it.
Funny enough again today whist walking around the village we saw another film production happening.
So now we will have a restful night before we head up to the base of the mountain to Kaiser-Franz-Josefs-Hohe (2,396m) and to the Pasterze glacier to start our walk back down to town.
Day 1 Kaiser-Franz-Josefs-Hohe to Heiligenblut – 15 km
We were so excited to get going this morning, though we had to wait for the taxi bus to pick us up and some other hikers and that wasn’t till 9 am. We are not used to starting so late and it was around 10:30 am before we did get walking. From the village of Heiligenblut you need to travel up to the base of the Mt. Grossglockner, from there is the Pasterze Glacier where you begin the walk. We would have spent 30+ minutes once we arrived up there just to have a look around and go into the museum which is quite interesting but in the end we just wanted to get walking.
We start around 2,396 m and have a full day of descent, in fact 1,267 m descent and boy there were times you really were feeling it. We really took a long time going down from the glacier and not just because of the steepness but because we were stopping and just admiring the scenery so much. If you do this walk do yourself a favour and go slow and soak it up, so worth it. As we head further down we are following the water flow from the melting glacier and if runs into Lake Sandersee, apparently this lake has been expanding as the glacier retreats. We traverse around this lake to were we come to our first bridge which happens to be a suspension bridge, (anyone who knows me knows I am not great with suspension bridges but this one has a wooden platform to walk on so I coped well).
Soon after climbing down a very rocky descend we reach another glacial lake, Lake Margaritzen, this is were we enjoyed our picnic lunch before heading up some but then quickly followed by yet again down, and some very (very) steep descent. Now as we are lower we are walking through the pine forests. It was a welcome shade as the sun was quite warm, the decent from here though we felt was just steeper than before and was very tiring and just felt like it was going on and on.
We took our time and rested whenever their was a nice place to sit and just soak in the surrounds. We looked for wild animals but only saw a deer, though heard many marmots and even a cookoo bird. Was a bit disappointed there weren’t anymore animals.
It was an amazing walk today and even though it was hard work at times it so was worth it. Very tired now and aching feet but sure we will be ready to do it all again tomorrow.
Day 2 Heiligenblut to Mortschach – 20 km.
Well good morning legs! They certainly had a workout yesterday and feeling a wee bit stiff and sore this morning, best way to fix that is to go for a walk 😝. The guide book refers today as an easy day with only a ascent of 490 m and a decent of 787 m.
We were only about a km out of town and we came across a small deer, taking a still along the path, maybe he is walking the trail too. He was sadly the only one we saw today, I was hoping that seeing one so early in the day would be a sign of more.
We saw many more people on the trail, mostly only walking for 4 or 6 days, we have not met anyone walking the whole way yet. We did hear however that there were 3 Aussies walking a few weeks back and they were going the whole way so that means they are most likely still on the trail. Good here other Aussies are out here.
The first 11 km into the village of Dollach was a bit more up and down that we expected but even so it was a very pleasant walk. There was a little bit of road but seriously such small country roads and super quiet I find it hard to even complain. Arriving in Dollach we found a great cafe to have lunch and rest along with other hikers some stopping there and others like us deciding to do the extra 9 km to the next town.
Between Dollach and Mortschach, where we are stopping today, it was super flat. The path mainly consisted of a bike path that links the two towns, it wasn’t till near the end you leave the bike path and walk through fields. Through this section however is very little shade and the sun was heating up, so I decided to give my new hiking umbrella a try. After watch my friends Lari and Hedley use theirs, and they swear by them , I thought I really should give it a go and yes I think it certainly is a handy addition to my hiking gear.
Tomorrow we are heading to a place called Stall, with the first 8 km straight up! Around a 1,159 m climb, that should be fun 😂😫😫. For the rest of the day a gradual down which is just perfect for any hiker, the hard work at the beginning and easy for the last part.
FYI The filming we saw happening in Heiligenblut is a new TV murder mystery series.
Day 3 Mortschach to Stall – 19 km walked and 5.5 km ride = 24.5 km.
Day 3 didn’t go the way we thought at the end but all for the better. First up lets talk the climb. This was challenging to say the least. We ascended 1,159 m and descended 1,150 m. We knew we had quite a climb ahead this morning, the book had 8 km we did more like 11 km and up it did go.
First part was not so bad just a continuous climb on a dirt road with many switch backs. I think the humidity was the killer more than anything. It got a whole lot more challenging once we left the road and when through the pine forest, it got steeper and steeper. It just kept going, I started to think they were lying about the top where we would find a bar for lunch.
We stopped at a bench seat at the 8 km mark with incredible views, unaware we still had 3 km to go thinking we will reach there really soon. We continued on shortly coming to a really rocky and steep climb, thank goodness there was a wire fence to help pull you up. Once reaching the top the sky started flashing with lighting and opened up dumping rain onto us. Luckily the storm didn’t last too long and by the time we finally reached the top and the bar it had moved on, or so we thought.
We had such a nice rest up the top at Marterle, there were other hikers we had been Criss crossing with since the start and sitting in the sun was just nice. As we finished the Dutch guys walked in. They had stopped for the day and were catching a taxi down to Stall, where we were staying, we however were going to keep walking our way down to Stall. The book showed a gentle down hill, (I’m laughing now). It certainly didn’t start off gentle for the first 3-4 km and the thunder had decided to start rolling around above though not rain at that point.
Finally the terrain gave us some relief and we were scooting along at a great pace through fields and along dirt roads, dropping down in metres quickly. Then…it was getting darker, and the rumbles of the thunderstorm a lot louder, then the rain started to come. All around us the mountains were getting swallowed up by these dark clouds and we picked up the pace thinking we might out run the storm. The trail then left the dirt road and headed back into the forest, we both were thinking NO we need to just get down quickly so we got the map out and checked where the dirt road was heading. We saw further down the trail intersected the road so knowing we are quicker on the road we will keep to the road.
It was getting darker and rain heavier, the thunder storm a whole lot louder and Mark yells back “did you hear a car?” (We hadn’t seen a car since the morning), I said no it is the thunderstorm. Next thing you know a car did come around the bend (don’t know where the hell from as there is nothing up there). He unwinds the window and asked do we need a lift? Of course we jumped at the chance and no sooner did we get into the car the sky opened up like you wouldn’t believe. He drove us into town to our accommodation and it’s still raining.
What a strange set of circumstances that played out! If we didn’t make that quick decision to stick to the dirt road we would have been stuck in the deluge of rain, thunder and lightning. What were the chances of some guy just happen to come down this dirt road right at theT exact minute and ask if we needed a ride? He could have just kept going, most people, and why was he there?
Day 4 Stall to Kleindoff – 17km walked and 8km taxi = 25km
Today we had to decide what was to be the best way through this day as we were going to be walking 1 1/2 stages. The place we wanted to stop at was Innerfragant but sadly all accommodation was booked out which meant walking further to the next town another 8 km away. Now 8 km doesn’t sound like much but in these mountains that might as well be another 20 km. We really didn’t want to miss any of the stages but are finding accommodation hard to get as everything is booked out with it being their summer. We decided the best thing to do was to miss the first bit (mainly because it was accessible by car) and continue on the next part. (Think this might be happening on a few stages sadly).
Anton the taxi driver was really great, he and his 5 sisters have been doing this trail in stages together for the past few years and are up to the Slovenia stages. He was so excited to hear Australians have come over to do this trail. We got to Goldberghutte, with the most incredible views. (I keep saying that but seriously everywhere I look just is a wow, Donovan this may be your walk).
So enjoyed today and the rain and storms stayed away letting us just enjoy our wander through the Austrian Alpes. We went through a section called the Rollbahn weg and this was just stunning. The path is carved out of the hillside and was used in times of past for the copper mines where the copper was trained out by horse-drawn trains. This was a fairly flat easy walk that was impressively beautiful and very lush vegetation, along with some very steep views down into the valley below. We crossed bridges and even went through a tunnel.
Once we arrived at Innerfragant for our lunch spot we were greeted by this massive waterfall, quite a sight especially as we saw the river up the top. We stopped in at Gasthof Pension, it was not open for lunch but the beautiful lady there, Christina, was happy to serve us the best chicken noodle soup and cold drink. She was impressed we were from Australia and come all the way to Austria to walk the trail. Thank you Christina you were very kind and I’m sure the little bottle of special mountain drink will be just lovely.
The rest of the day was so pleasant, there were some killer down sections but all in all wasn’t too bad a day, arriving around 3 pm giving us a chance to get our laundry done and rest our very tired weary legs.
Day 5 day trip from Mallnitz to Stappitzer See and back -10 km
After the first 4 days of gruelling ups and downs we decided to take a more tourist day and follow the trail up to the Lake Strappitzer See from Mallnitz and back. This is a loop section on the track and was such a great way to spend the day.
Last night we stayed in a village called Kleindorf in a 4th generation Pension, Pension Maier. I would certainly recommend the stay here. Dinner was in the weirdest Italian/Mexican restaurant. I think it has an identity issue but was nice enough.
Today walking up the valley from one of the cutest little villages was a really pleasant walk through farm fields and pine forests. There were many people out and about hiking today, all seemed to be day trippers just really enjoying the beautiful sunshine.
Mark picked up a hitchhiker, a butterfly, which found his pack just the right spot to sit and go for a ride. Once he was bored with Mark he decided to come and sit on my hand and go for a walk. It was the strangest thing.
Day 6 Obervellach to Muhldorf. Nearly 24 km (and feeling it)
This morning we were straight up and up and just a wee bit more up, up in the clouds literally. Mark was mostly in front and one minute I see him and the next he disappears into a cloud! It was like walking through pea soup!
It drizzled for a fair part of the day, just that annoying drizzle where it is humid, no breeze and you are not sure if you should put your rain gear on or not.
We went through this pine forest that was mystical and silent. It was the conical hill that is in the middle of the Moll Valley. It had a strange and mystical feel as well as making us walk up hill. This area has been used for over 6000 years as ceremonial sites. It has one of the oldest sacrificial alters in this area. A temple was erected by the Romans in the name of the God Hercules. We saw many information boards through the forest though not being able to read the language sadly unable read the info.
Had lunch at the historical Herkuleshof before tackled the down hill run which was so pretty through the forest mixed with pine trees and lush vegetation. Walking through Danielsburg was pretty then from there it was all valley walk to the end, following the Moll river all the way to Muhldorf.
Day 7 Muhldorf to Gmund. 25km +
Bit slow in writing this post as we did have a long day walking but the real reason was we have a friend who lives here and he picked us up after we finished our days walk and we are staying with him for a few nights. We hadn’t seen him in awhile so it is so wonderful to catch up (into the wee hours of the morning) 😄😄
Yesterday’s walk started like every other morning with an up, though this one wasn’t as painful on the legs mainly because it was so interesting and beautiful your mind was distracted from the fact you were climbing.
We were climbing up through the Barbarossaschlucht Gorge and in my opinion on of the most beautiful sections yet. From the moment you leave town and start the climb the story telling begins with installations of art, and story boards showing the legendary story of how the Emperor Frederick Barbarossa and his brave soldiers had stayed the night in the gorge and were chased out by the devil.
The whole way along this well managed pathway you come across sections of the story and the surrounding gorge as you climb higher into it just gets more and more mystical and beautiful. With every turn as you wind your way up is just an ‘oh wow moment’ and you find yourself just wandering along with the feeling you may have stepped back to the medieval days. I could have spent the whole day there just exploring and watching the water as it was gushing down the centre of the gorge as one massively long waterfall.
Having experience the gorge first up in the morning had set us up feeling very excited about the day ahead. We left the gorge and heading into more pine forests and I said to Mark I would like to now see some red deer, especially a stag, and a squirrel as well. So as we traversed the mountain through this forest I am all eyes peeled and I saw my red deer! She was quite a distance off so the photos are not great but to see her with my own eyes was special. She knew we were there and stood so very still like a frozen statue only here ears twitching around keeping open for sounds.
Later that day as we left a little village we spotted not one Stag but a dozen! Sadly they were not in the wild but fenced in someone’s property, hopefully soon I will spot one in the wild. We also came across an ostrich, yep an ostrich in Austria. 😆 it too was behind a fence and I can’t imagine why someone would keep one.
The rest of the day was made up of going in and out of small villages and walking mostly Ridgeline with a few ups and downs but all in all one of our easier days and we arrived in Gmund around 5 pm where we met up with an old friend from Perth how has moved over here to retire.
Day 8 & 9 Playing happy tourists
We have had the last two days off from walking and staying with our old friend from Perth who is now retired here in Austria. Benny has been showing us around his now home town of Seeboden and surrounding areas.
We went for a drive through the mountains and explored the medieval artistic town of Gmund and beyond to the mountain weir. If you are into your cars especially Porsche then Gmund is a place for you to visit. We were seeing many old cars and there is a Porsche museum here as well.
Day 10 Seeboden to Matzeldorf 28 km + (watch battery ran out)
What a long day. It was around 12 hours on the track and a lot longer than we first thought. I really think the distances in the guidebook are not very accurate and think you need to add at least an extra 3+ km to what they say.
It was a really enjoyable day for the most part, just the last 7 km I found to be a march constantly downhill on mostly old country roads with nothing inspiring to look at. The signage that has been great up until now just disappeared for a large part of the day and mainly where you needed it, this just made it frustrating as there are so many trails Criss-crossing and you were never sure if you got the right one. Luckily with Mark’s excellent navigation skill we did not get lost!
We spent a good part of the day up high over the 2000 m level and after the 5th summit I just stopped counting. The rain held out for the most part and gave us the most spectacular views for miles to see. I really enjoyed it up there and we came across many horses, too many cows and saw a snake, a marmot, Mark saw a deer on the way up (I missed that one sadly).
There were many day walkers we met along the way enjoying the sunny day, quite a few families which was great to see the kids exploring. Lunch was at the Alexander Hutte that had views overlooking the valley and lake below.
Day 11 Matzeldorf to Erlacherhaus Hutte – 20 km (still having trouble loading photos so I will keep trying).
Late start, (the place we stayed didn’t serve breakfast till after 8) but a much shorter day having us arrive at the Hutte by 5:30 pm. It was a day of up up and let’s just say up.
It was a pleasant walk today even though we were climbing, the walk was mostly on country paths following a stream all the way. We went through what they call Langalmtal, the valley of the mills. This is a trail leading you up the stream through a heritage site showing you how the water mills worked and many fun things for the children to explore depicting fairy tales. There are a lot of BBQ spots along the way for families to enjoy a day out. It was just a very enchanting walk with the rushing of the stream going through the various water mills, the lushness of the surrounding forest, the many carved wooden fairy-tale characters. Really enjoyed it.
I thought today was a Hutte to Hutte walk as we did pass many Huttes along the way. These places are mountain huts that offer food and drink and some even a place to stay. Tonight we are staying in one and it is just amazing. They are very warm and inviting and this one surprised me at how many people were staying here. They are family run places and give you the family welcome.
Tomorrow we are deciding on what section to tackle with many summits ahead of us but the weather will predict whether we get to go higher.
Day 12 Erlacherhaus Hutte to Bad Kleinkirchheim – 12 km
Today is Mark’s 50th Birthday! And what a way to spend his special day than high in the Austrian Mountains. We had a wonderful stay at the mountain Hutte and was great to see so many people staying and enjoying the mountains.
When hiking any mountains you really need to respect the mountains and the weather. It changes so very quickly and what might look like a great day can turn sour really fast so you should be prepared. We always check the maps and know alternative routes if we need to get down quickly as well as carry all the appropriate gear to protect ourselves from the sudden change in temperatures, and of course our emergency locator (PLB).
Even our alternative route was engulfed by thick cloud, though we could still navigate quite well and the cloud was moving along fast. We got up to 2170 m and we really did enjoy it up there. Every now and then the cloud would clear away and we would get a whole WOW moment with amazing views. We were not alone on the mountains as there where many people doing the same thing and just hiking and enjoying them.
For lunch we dropped down to 1600 m to another mountain Hutte and enjoyed their soup and some warm sun. We sadly couldn’t get accommodation further around the mountain where we wanted as it was all booked out so we changed route one more time and headed down to a town Bad Kleinkirchheim, this was where we had planned to be tomorrow, but there is a music festival here at the moment in the mountains and is really busy with many people.
All in all we have had a fantastic day and our accommodation had just opened their doors today after renovation. It is an 800 yr old building and the owners mother has her birthday too today, so I think it was meant to be.
Day 13. Bad Kleinkirchheim to Arriach – 18 km
We had a fantastic day in the mountains today, with the first summit partially aided by a cable car then the rest by foot. We went up over the 2100 m mark again and the views were just incredible.
I really could just sit up for hours on the top of a mountain and watch the clouds move along on their journey. They roll along on their own pathway, engulfing the land that comes in its way before spitting it out the other side. One minute you can see your trail and the mountains around you and the next it is gone! Just swallowed up in the whiteness of the cloud and before you know it it is back before you!
After doing 2 summits today we then headed back into the forests and down to the valley below. The trail heading down was windy and at points seemed to take us way out of the way to where we needed to go before swinging back around.
Sometimes you can understand why a trail would do this, could be the terrain is dictating how you can go, other times it is because there are interesting sights the trail wants to show you. Then it is just because it can, today it felt like that at times and it makes you feel like you just have to do the miles and there often isn’t too many smiles.
Day 14 Arriach to Gerlitzen Alpe – 16.5 km (all up)
We had a great stay at the Gastof Arriach, met a lot of Dutch people holidaying and talk to them about our next year perhaps doing the Peiter Pad there. We were well rested which was a good thing as the day ahead was just a day of up up and let’s say more up!
The day was just basically one of those days you get on any long distance hike that just is. A part of the trail that will get you from A to B and that is all. Don’t get me wrong it was far from unpleasant, in fact some of the forest walk was very peaceful and pleasant.
We did have an encounter with some horses, one that particularly took a liking to us. I kept asking them would they be so kind to take us to the top and after this one horse came over for some investigation and scratches she proceeded to push me up the hill. It was quite funny.
We had also encounter another stage where we struggled to get any accommodation. In some parts we have had a bit of trouble with this as it is their summer holidays and all is booked out. I heard some of the campgrounds aren’t too bad if you have a tent or if you are super rich you could pay real big bucks and stay in fancy hotels. We didn’t bring a tent and we didn’t win lotto so we have to look beyond some of the popular spots on the trail which means moving along a little more.
Lucky this time our friends came to our rescue and picked us up and drove us to Villach, a large town just off the trail. Christina’s mom had an empty apartment we could crash at for the night. There was no furniture but we didn’t care, a night on the floor never killed anyone and with a raging storm outside we were really grateful.
Day 15 Villach to Velden am Worthersee to Faaker See. A short train ride and 18km walk.
After having to detour for accommodation last night we caught a train to get back to the track early this morning arriving in Velden am Worthersee for breakfast the we hit the trail for a day that was not filled with endless ups and downs or even any summits but a more comfortable days terrain which was much welcomed as Mark is not feeling terribly well today.
We met up with two young Germans today walking a section of the trail. We haven’t seen anyone else walking the trail in a while now so we were happy to see others. We joined them in this community building for a cuppa. From what we understand this place use to be a guest house of sorts but now is a community building filled nick-knacks of all sorts and basic food for you to purchase. The man that runs it made us coffee and sat with us sharing stories that we mostly was not understanding.
When we reached the lake, Faarker See, It had become extremely humid (as most days) and the storm clouds just kept building and building. As we walked around the lake (wishing for a swim) we found it difficult to get to the lakeside as all the foreshore son the lakes are privately owned, so you are unable to get to the lake except for some small public sections. By the time we found the public section we just wanting to keep moving as the sky was grumbling more and Mark was just done for the day.
Just 3 km from our accommodation the sky exploded, hard, fast and extremely loud. We managed to shelter for a bit under a think grove of trees before it lightened enough for us to get moving again.
Tomorrow we say goodbye to Austria and hello Slovenia by way of a mountain pass over the Julian Alpes. For days we could see the pass ahead going in between the Schwarzkogel and Mittagskogel mountains. Whether we get to cross the path by foot or go around will be determined in the morning as we heard the weather is storms forecast.
Day 16 Faaker See to Kranjska Gora. ?kms
We woke in the morning and decided that a mountain pass today was not going to be a wise choice with the weather forecast to have storms at 10 am and 12 am and Mark (though feeling better) was quite sick the day before. We remind ourselves that we are on holiday and we walk these trails to enjoy and experience them not to put ourselves in any unfavourable situations.
It was a fickled day though to get to Kranjska Gora as it isn’t as straight foreword as one would imagine. We had to get not only over the pass on the Julian Alpes but also go into another country. There was no one way there and it certainly was not a straight across passage. In fact what would have been a 22 km walk was something like a 50 plus km train and bus ride.
Having to travel up alongside the borderline for quite sometime before getting to where the tunnel was to get the train though before travelling back but on the Slovenian border by bus.We didn’t mind at all as it is another great way to see more of the countryside we would not have been able to see otherwise.
Getting into Kranjska Gora you quickly see this is a real lively village. Loads of holiday makers and most wearing hiking gear so you know that this must be a great hub for hiking. Not surprising as looking around at the scenery of the surrounding mountains the views were spectacular. Reading up on the area there is a lot of history here from World War One and when we cross tomorrow’s mountain pass and head into the Tiglavski National Park we will come across many monuments and signs of this history.
We are looking forward to the next stage.
As each stage we approach we must find ourselves accommodation and I have to say this trail is increasingly becoming difficult to get anything. We have been getting frustrated more and more with this trail and although we are enjoying the countryside and the walk we are annoyed that we struggle to get anywhere to stay. It isn’t accommodating for the distance hiker in the sense that they make it affordable or even enough places. We do know it is summer here and school holidays but if they are promoting a distance hike like this and want people to walk it then they need to accommodate them at night. We are struggling again to get any thing for the next stage but we really are not wanting to bypass another stage just because the accommodation.
After exhausting all the different links for places we could find and even ringing some in the hopes that there might be something, we head to the tourist office to see if they can help. We ask if there is anything in Trenta that they know of and the lady sighs and says ‘I’m tired of trying to speak so many different languages in one day, (rattling off the languages, German, French, English …….. )’ and then she says ‘most places won’t take the advance booking in case you don’t show. I will give you the phone and dial the number for you.’ Well I was shocked to say the least and getting quite annoyed by now.
We talk to a few places and nothing, we also spoke to the tourist office in Trenta, their response was most places are fully booked out but if we walk the pass and come into the tourist office they will help us find something by ringing some places they know. OK that’s the best we could get but we also decided we need back up options just in case so we look beyond to the next town and the bus timetable to get there.
Day 17 Kranjska Gora to Trenta to Bovec 25kms plus a bus ride.
As you can see we needed that bus ride to the next town sadly and I have to say we are even more frustrated with the whole accommodation situation here more. We walked into Trenta after a very long day, with what the book calls 18.7 km and medium difficulty we call 25 km and hard difficulty. This trail book has hardly been accurate at all this trip. Most days it is out by 3 km or so but today it was a whopping 6 km! Come on really? I’m sorry but they have set this new trail up for the tourists to come walk but really I’m finding it to be full of so many potholes I’m not thinking I could recommend it to anyone.
To say medium difficulty I’m not sure how, when one has to be scrambling on all fours with a pack and a cliff below not once but a few times and the signage well let’s say lack off. We use the app for the trail when we need to but that just chews the battery so fast, the km on it might say 200 m to a point but really 3 km as it isn’t calculated from the track but from a straight line and the maps suck. We came across another couple who were finding the lack of signage frustrating as well and we ended up walking with each other through a forest section to be sure we all got through.
Yes I’m whinging but sorry it doesn’t stop here. We walk into the tourist office at Trenta and ask about accommodation. The guy ums for a minute and says no there is nothing (he didn’t look) we said that they told us to walk in and speak to them and they will call around for us, he says who, we say you guys did. He said well I can’t help you. He didn’t even try and quite frustrating and really puts a sour note on what could be a great walk.
Anyway back to the walk which I have to say the scenery was just awe inspiring with so many WOW moments from our first steps. I really love the look of the Julian Alps. They are so rugged, dramatic yet pretty at the same time.
About a km out of town you come across the crystal clear and beautiful lakes of Jasna before following Pisnica mountain stream. I have never seen a mountain stream so beautiful before! The water is the most crystal clear water rushing over the chalk like stones, just teasing you by inviting you in but when you touch the water it is so cold! We followed the stream up for the longest time, always having the rugged and dramatic chalk mountains looming over you.
All along the way you were reminded of the history from this area with the remains from WW1. There was even a small Russian chapel on the pass that was built by the Russian prisoners of the First World War in memory of a tragic avalanche in 1916 that killed over 200 soldiers and prisoners.
Then there is the ‘Pagan Girl’, this is a face of a girl that is naturally formed in the rock on the side of the mountain. The legend has it that she had prophesied the death of the legendary chamois buck, Zlatorog, and as punishment turned to stone. It was quite impressive and for a while when walking over the pass I felt her eyes were watching over us.
The walk today was long and hard going but we really did enjoy it. As always the final part is the part you don’t enjoy esp when once again the rain came down with only another mere 3 km left. Oh well it’s all part of the adventure.
Day 18 Bovec to Dreznica – 26km
Feeling hot hot hot was the word for today. Oh boy it was a hot walk but regardless of the heat I really found it a nice comfortable one with no major ups and downs or even any scrambling, just a bit of slippery mud but we stayed on two feet so all good.
I can’t get over how gorgeous the water looks here. So clear, so inviting, so cold. We saw many people playing along the bank of the river enjoying the summer sun. One guy ran into the water and let out a mighty big yell so it proved to me it really is cold.
We watched a lot of kayaks heading down the river and boy that looked like so much fun. I was extremely jealous as it was so hot to be walking. At lunch we found a caravan park beside the river with cold drinks so we just sat and re-hydrated for a good hour or so and let the heat of the day move on. This was one day we were hoping for that afternoon rain and it is the first day we didn’t get any. Always the way.
We met more people today hiking sections, still no going all the way. Everyone was just frazzled from the heat but seemed to be enjoying the walk. It was a welcome relief to get to our accommodation yesterday and get that icy cold beer.
More climbing tomorrow.
Day 19. Dreznica to Tomlin – 23km.
Another hot hot day today. Yesterday was over 34°C today was pretty much the same but we did have most the walk in the shade it still was hot.
Slovenian forests are so pretty. In Austria the forests were more just the pine but here it is quite a mix of trees, maybe because we are not reaching heights like Austria and maybe because the soil and rocks look very different. It is quite obvious we are in a new country even though so close, there is that definite dividing line of the Julian Alps that makes the difference.
Apart from the heat I really found today’s walk to be just pleasant. It was nothing of the WOW, or spectacular, just a pleasant walk. Sometimes on a long hike you do need these days just to walk and not have your senses stimulated. It is a time to switch off and just be, be in nature and in the moment. It was also a day for us to just reflect on the journey we have already had and look at what we have left. Sometimes we forget in life to take these moments and before we know it time and life has passed us by.
Day 20 – 40.2 km, taxi, walk and bus. Tolmin to Cividale del Friuli. (Photos soon as the Internet is shit)
Mixed bag today but all went to plan. We needed to get to Cividale and the only bus was at 2:40 pm from Tribil Di Sopra. To get to Tribil it was around 20 km up over a mountain and in temperatures mid 30’s, humidity beyond belief, storm clouds moving in, we decided the best way to tackle this was to taxi to the top where there is the Kolovrat open-air museum and walk the 12 km to get the bus. We made it! Just, but made it!
We spent some time exploring the open-air museum. This is the remains of an extensive 3rd line defence they called the “lines d’armata”. When up on the Kolovrat ridge and look around you are looking at the battlefield of the Isonzo Front.
There are trenches and tunnels every where. Walking in them gave me a weird feeling knowing that many fought, lived and died here over the four years. This is the first time I ever have actually walked through trenches, you see them in the movies Etc but when you are in one it’s quite sad and you start to picture what it might have been for the soldiers.
For the rest of the walk we kept coming across move tunnels just out of nowhere. I imagine that mountain as a block of Swiss cheese with all those holes. When we where at the peak of the mountain we actually crossed borders again! So it is goodbye to Slovenia and hello Italy! Only a sheet while as we will be crossing back soon then back to Italy.
The walk itself was nothing special as it was a mix of extremely steep downhill forest, few paddocks and some country roads. As we headed down you could see over the valley the clouds brewing and getting ready to explode.
By the time we reached Cividale the heat in the air was heavy and the sky was rumbling. We are so glad to stop here for the day though the next stage is only 13 km and for once flat we decided not to push our luck with yet another storm.
Day 21. Cividale to hotel Venko – 24 km and humid as all hell.
We woke this morning to the sound of thunder and rain, which we pretty well expected as the forecast for the weekend is just that. We were not worried as we know it passes quick and we are not climbing any mountains today. What’s a bit of rain and an angry sky anyway. By the time we finished breakfast it had passed just leaving us with the most disgusting humidity.
Today’s walk was not anything do extremes of a sends or descends, just a passing through the valley then into the hills. We walked a lot passed vineyards and orchards with the occasionally visit to the forests. All in all a pleasant walk.
We pushed further than the guide book said as we are rapidly running out of time, we might even have to jump forward a bit more in the next few days just to get to the end in time.
Lunch time we ate at a tourist farm that sat right on the borderline of Italy and Slovenia, so after lunch we stepped back over the border to Slovenia. For the rest of the day we skirted the border of the two countries often looking across the river to Italy while walking in Slovenia.
The weather tried its hardest on and off all day to give a rain but never getting more than spits. This however just kept the humidity high and our nice clean clothes we washed yesterday were soaking in sweat.
Day 22. Hotel Venko to Gradisca d’Isonzo – 24km.
Today we managed to squeeze two and a half stages in one. Why? Because we are running out of time so instead of weaving along the trail like a drunken sailor we opted to make a more direct route. With still over 100 km left and not many days to do it we will have to be creative with our route again over the next few days.
Another very hot and humid day today. We are coping quite well with the heat and humidity, we just have resigned ourselves to the fact it is what it is so don’t worry about it and just enjoy the walk. Once you start focusing on something that annoys you then your walk will become a chore and you don’t enjoy where you are or what you are doing. Over the years we have gotten very good at just getting on with it.
We walked into San Lorenzo and was fortunate to find the only bar/restaurant we saw all day. It was a relief to find it open and have our favourite Limone Soda on ice! Heaven. We also had lunch and wow, I do love Italy, they really know food.
We walked out from lunch and the sunny sky had gone and replaced with dark threatening clouds and constant rumbling. Every afternoon we end with a storm and today was the same, just a little earlier than normal. We checked the map and decided to try and avoid the storm and take a different route, so glad we did as it looked and sounded vicious.
Arriving in town we had no accommodation booked and decided to try the hotel the book recommended. As we are hiking the Alpes to Adria you receive a discount on the price so we jumped at the chance to stay. They also had a pool! We raced upstairs and threw on our bathers, that we have carried the whole way but not used yet, and headed straight to the pool. OMG it was amazing! Floating in the pool watching the storm pass around the town and having a cold beer. I’m in heaven.
Day 23. Gradisca d’Isonzo to Duino. 26 km
Again it was ridiculously humid and hot and the body is feeling it after the past week of it. Feeling very drained out and tired and today was just not fun.
For me personally today was my worst day on the trail. I did not enjoy it one bit (except the cold water fountain we found after the first 20 km. Mark was coping OK and said he enjoyed the first part of the day enough but it was not anything special, but in the end the heat got too much.
As for the trail today there was nothing of real interest to experience. You do go through areas with history from the World War 1 and if we weren’t so hot we might of spent more time looking at it.
We past Doberdo lake, it’s in a conservation park and all the water within the lake comes from underground springs. We could see the lake from the top of a hill but when we came down (on an extremely sharp and nasty decent) you didn’t see it again even though you were skirting around it.
The area was all over grown so if you didn’t see the lake from above you would not be aware of it being there.
The rest of the trail was just scrappy shrubs that you walked through, sometimes on old 4WD tracks other times overgrown trails. Signage was there, then not, then back again. Made no sense sometimes esp when it didn’t link in with the map or app. There are so many trails around it is easy to not know whether you are on the right one or not. A lot of the time we figure we were heading in the right direction so it will do.
We found following the trail into Duino a pig, and I mean that in a not so nice way. The trail was so confused we couldn’t make heads or tails of it having to back track for quite a way and believe me when you are tired and at the end of a shitty day you really don’t want to be doing that. They really need to work out where the trail is to be and map it properly. It really is just all over the place, and after today I am feeling done with the whole thing. We will see how I feel in the morning though, I might change my mind.
Day 24. Duino to Prosecco (yes the sparkling wine) – 17.5 km
As you can see we walked, I didn’t take the bus, it was tempting as again it was hot and humid. Mark is coping quite well with the weather, at least better than me. I feel so drained and each km feels like an effort but I’m staying strong and moving on.
We walked the first part along the cliffs with the Adriatic Sea beside us, is was great to have it there even though it was a brief moment of the walk this morning it was still nice. We have been inland this whole journey so to come to the sea is a real treat even if we are too high on the cliffs to reach it.
The walk now takes us around about way down to Muggia, the official end of the trail, and sadly keeps you away from the sea. It goes back inland and up into the hills then tomorrow takes you back across the border to Slovenia and back again to Italy. Trieste is in the middle but on the coast and is the major city here so we decided to get an apartment for 5 days and just bus out to the start of tomorrow’s walk then bus back to Trieste and do the same for the final day. This way we can just carry a day bag and not all our gear, hopefully making it a bit more pleasant and comfortable to walk.
When we arrived in Prosecco we caught the bus to Trieste. It is great to actually know we are in the same place for the next 5 nights as it get so disorientating waking every morning somewhere different.
At around the 9/10 km mark we decided to branch off from the trail for a few km’s as it seemed to go off up into the hills for no great reason and to be honest it was too damn hot to wander aimlessly through the hills. We joined the trail a little further down and I liked that we got to go through a few small villages rather than just bush-land.
Some of these small villages are really interesting and find them full of character, with every house having a dog of some kind and they all what to be tough dog and warn you away when in actual fact they are just cute.
We saw more evidence of the war through this section and for anyone who maybe a war history buff, you might enjoy this side of the trail.
It was nice to get to Trieste and spend a few hours wandering around getting a feel for the place that will be our home for the next 5 days. We are looking forward to meeting up with a friend from Perth who also is walking and should arrive Friday. She is walking the European Peace walk, and we are keen to hear all about her journey.
Day 25. Prosecco to Sottomonte – 7 km along and decided to stop.
It was just way too hot. We don’t even hike in this heat at home so we decided to not push it and enjoy what we have done and find other ways to enjoy the place we are in.
This morning we caught the bus back up the the village of Prosecco and walk a the next section which was to be our second last day till we reach the end. The first part was enjoyable, more so on sights than weather, the best scenery we have had in a few days.
We were walking along the Strada Vicentina or also known as the ‘Napoleon Path’. This is a historical pathway that leads from the Karst plateau into Trieste. There is a legend that Napoleonic troops had created this route, giving it the name Napoleon Path, but it is also named after the engineer who planned the route, Vicentini. Who knows.
After walking the path we reached a major road and crossed over heading up hill towards the next section of the trail. Just before reaching the bush land there was a caravan park where we got cold drinks to try and cool off. This is where we made the decision that we were done, it was just way too hot to continue and to be honest we feel like the trail was done.
We decided to finish the trail we needed to change the way we went about it, after all it’s our journey and we must always remember that. So we went back down hill to the main road and walked till we found a bus stop and caught a bus back to Trieste, grabbed our bathers and got on a ferry and did the final part of the journey by ferry to reach Muggia.
What a great way to end this trail by getting there by sea! We arrived in Muggia and looked for our info point we find each day just to feel like we really made it then high tailed it to the water where we spend a few hours just soaking in the Adriatic Sea.
So we are officially finished the trail, not the way we usually finish but that is exactly what a journey is about, taking you in directions you never knew you were going to take.
Be sure to follow our YouTube channel and have a look at our series of videos on this trail. https://youtu.be/mGm4iz-JxOo