I’d had a hard time researching the possible option for two city dwellers hiking in Durmitor and all I’d found apart from the shorter hike around the black lake was a suggestion to hike to Planinica and back. According to the blog it was a rewarding walk which was doable in one day.
At the tourist info centre they were not much help and at one of the many travel agencies in town we were told that we wouldn’t make it in one day. Thus, I was very confused regarding our options when we set out in the early morning for Durmitor National Park.
The girl at the Visitor’s Centre was clear in stating that a trip to Planinica would be six hours. Now that I look back I am not so sure if she meant six hours to and from or one way. She also claimed that the dotted line which on our map clearly stated unmarked trail was marked and possible to follow, meaning that we could take another trail back.
I trusted her because she worked at the Visitor’s Centre, and thus we set out for Planinica on this beautiful summer’s day with lots of water and a map.
Now this shouldn’t sound like a blog on how it all ended in disaster because the trip ended up absolutely amazing and at no point were we in danger of any kind, but I look back on this day wondering how on earth we did it. I’ve even promised my boyfriend never to plan another crazy hike again.
On the trail to Planinica
The hike started out on flat land and for some parts on a road. It was easy peasy and we managed to make a short stop at the lake Zminje Jezero. We’d read on the map that a spring would be available here and thus had filled already emptied a large part of our water. But we never found the spring.
But so far the hike had been easy and we still had two litres left.
After another hike through the pine woods, the road started to go up, but it was manageable and the trees covered us from the sun as we slowly ascended reaching a clearing with a beautiful meadow called Crepulja Poljana. It is a stunning place in the middle of the pine wood forest and encircled by the mountains. I was hooked and despite our ascend I was ready for more.
Those I imagine were my famous last words, because from there it went straight up. At 1716 meters above sea level, we started out on more than a 200 meter ascend in order to reach the entrance to the Ališnica Valley at 1940. I have no idea how I survived, but I imagine that some of the reason was that we were distracted a large part of the way by a butterfly which decided to hitchhike on my boyfriends finger most of the way.
It was strenuous and constantly as we thought we’d made it another climb came into view. as if there was no end to this personal hell. Having to save on water as well and far away from the pleasant pine woods I was close to collapsing.
But after what according to the trail signs was only 45 minutes but to us was close to two hours, we made it to the top of the trail and around a small bend. And this is why we climbed all this way. The Ališnica Valley is a most beautiful piece of this earth and if I’d had any breath left from climbing up there the sight would have taken it away.
For the next hour to hour and a half we walked through this magnificent landscape where horses were grassing in the distance. Even better it was for the most part somewhat straight with no serious ascends.
When we reached a sign midways, it became obvious to us that the unmarked trails which the girl in the Visitor’s Centre had claimed to be marked were no such thing. Moreover, the trail we had hoped to follow was across a mountain ridge with an ascend of 400 metres. No thank you.
It had become clear that our only option was to take the same trail back, and with near to no water left and the clock closing in on 4 PM we were slightly concerned. But meeting a couple of hikers going the opposite direction, we were told that Planinica was only another 45 minutes away and we decided to keep on walking.
That was just before another heavy ascend began reaching the flat peak of Planinica at 2330 metres. When we’d made it, I was slightly disappointed and close to collapsing. Nothing seemed extraordinary about this place in comparison to the valley we’d left behind. But my boyfriend stuck to the idea that from somewhere we should be able to see the two Skrcko Jezero lakes.
With indication of a trail through some bushes we nearly climbed on our knees searching for a way to the viewpoint indicated on the map. And there behind heavy scrubs we found the actual peak of Planinica – a wide meadow with stunning views of the surrounding mountains and down a small trail we could see directly below us Malo Skrcko Jezero as an emerald nestled between the mountains. What a beautiful place.
But it was 5 PM and the last thing we needed was to get caught on the mountain by night. Thankfully most of the way was descending, but particularly the climb down from the Ališnica Valley was terrifying with the fear of falling and with the light slowly fading. We were completely robotic at this point only thinking of putting one foot in front of the other dreaming of reaching a place where we might saturate our thirst and find comfort for our feet.
After Crepulja Poljana the descend became easier, but what we had remembered as a short and relatively easy ascend proved a very long trail down through the darkening pine wood. The road seemed to go on for hours and as darkness was falling around us a sign let us know that we had another 1 hour and 30 minutes to Crno Jezero – the black lake. From there it would be 900 meters to the entrance and if we would find no taxis then 3 kilometres into town.
If I’d thought too much about it I would have crumbled up, but all I could do was put one foot in front of the other. At least we’d made it down the mountain and onto the trail that for parts followed a road. My fear of being stuck on the mountain in the night was not realised, thank goodness.
But the best part of the day was when a small red car with a Belgian couple stopped after I threw out my thumb. Before making it to Crno Jezero we got a ride into Žabljak where these amazing and friendly people dropped us off in front of the supermarket.
After a run through the store and a short waiting in line, we sat down at a nearby bench draining each our litre of water before starting on the lemonade and orange juice and another water. Never has a beverage of any kind tasted as great as on that bench in Žabljak.
We ended up eating a pizza at some fancy place in town where the waiters forgot us and the chairs were uncomfortably high. And we agreed that the following day we would spend recuperating.
Was it worth it? Yes, but I wouldn’t have done it if I’d known how hard it would be. I guess ignorance is bliss.