Exploring the Julian Alps – The Descent

It was shortly past six when the alarm rang the next morning. There was a forecast for some rain from noon on, so we wanted to be down the worst bit before. Quickly we packed our stuff together and left without breakfast. The crisp cold morning air made us feel awake. From the east, the first rays of sunlight were touching the peaks around us, the valley of Soča River was still asleep in the shade. The cold made my breath condensate on my glasses, so I hiked up the 300m to the pass between Mount Stenar and Mount Pihavec being half blind. Once we reached the top of the pass, we found ourselves a spot in the sun and had breakfast.

One last time we looked down into the valley and to the chalet, before we started descending down on the other side of the mountain. We came to the bit with the steel rope that we had climbed up the previous day. My heart skipped a beat as I was forced to look down. There was an almost vertical drop ahead of us. I took a deep breath, attached my hiking poles to my backpack and grabbed the steel rope. The sooner I did it, the sooner it would be over. While I slowly wiggled downwards along the steel rope, I had to look down over and over again. How much easier it had been when you just had to look up.

The top of Mount Triglav was covered with snow already in early September.
The top of Mount Triglav was covered with snow already in early September.

Eventually I set my feet on firm ground and let go of the rope, but my feet wouldn’t stop skidding to all sides on the gravel covering the slope. As much as I would have enjoyed the view of Mount Triglav straight ahead, I had to watch my feet to not roll down all the way. Setting my feet sideways to take some of the strain off my knees, I tripped on the gravel, my hiking pole got stuck in between rocks and I landed on the pole with my butt first after a tenacious struggle for balance. As I got up, I saw the big bend in my pole. Well, better them than me.

A little chapel in front of beautiful scenery.
A little chapel in front of beautiful scenery.

The rest of the way downwards passed without any further incidences. I didn’t see much of the beautiful nature we had already passed the day before. The pain in my knees was slowly building up the further down we went. The softer ground in the wood didn’t really help. It felt like the descent would never end, when  we set foot on the even path around Aljažev dom. In our fresh memory from the day before that was a short walk, but now the path seemed to be dragging on and on. Finally, we saw the hut and the car park. I laughed in relief.

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