Zabljak, Montenegro: 31 August – 5 September, 2019
Saturday 31 August
After a long bus trip, where I caught up on Black Mirror, met a friendly local named Oli who helped translate the comments of the driver, and spent as much of my remaining Dinar as possible on junk food at a small roadside shop, I arrived to Zabljak!
It was fantastic to check in at the Hiker’s Den Hostel and meet the two proprietors Alex and Stefan, two helpful guys who were keen to have me. “We are glad to have someone like you here!” I recall them remarking as I shared my passion for trail running, and they planned out a couple of great missions for me to tick off on the Durmitor National Park in the coming days.
I met a fun crew at the hostel and enjoyed some corn porridge for dinner.
Cracking Run Across the Mountain!
Sunday 1 September (Strava details)
First up was a classic – a shared van ride up to Sedlo Pass, before conquering Bobotov Kuk and wandering back to the town via the ice cave and exceptional scenery. It was fun trails on a great day!
It was a good steep climb up to the summit, with plenty of rocky stuff and a little via ferrata type action. I found out later I had snagged the Strava crown for the climb from Sedlo! A gorgeous panoramic view awaited, including the famous sight of the lake below.
More superb technical running followed on the descent, including a stop off at the ice cave. I was making good time and loving it!
I soon closed in on Black Lake, before hitting more tourists and the last miles through the town back to my accommodation. Alex and Stefan were super impressed and we discussed day two of their training camp.
I still had the afternoon to relax and wander back past Black Lake enjoying some snacks and podcast time. It really is a beautiful area! A great pasta dinner and laughs with the team ensued.
Another Stunner on the Durmitor!
Monday 2 September (Strava details)
This time I left Zabljak on foot and was relying on a ride home from Sedlo Pass – the sort of plan that can make for interesting times! I first purchased another park ticket near Black Lake and headed up and over Plananica, en route to Veliko Skrcko jezero, the lake seen from Bobotov Kuk the day before.
It was a good steady climb up to Plananica, rewarded with fun views back towards the town, over towards the lake, and over to Bobotov Kuk where other keen hikers enjoying the mountain were visible.
A very steep descent towards the lake followed. Good fun, technical stuff and slow going! A bit of scree action almost. Careful foot placement was critical, and this situation was not helped by the increasingly stunning views over the lake!
Passing near the lake, it was simply beautiful! My ticket was checked at the hut and I continued onward climbing up towards the road and up to Sedlo Pass. Amazing scenery surrounded me.
The final grunt along the road to Sedlo was a tiring final push. My ticket was again checked, even though I was now leaving the park haha. My transport woes were alleviated when I hitched a ride back to Zabljak with some friendly Russians! I even got a nice postcard with a stunning photo of the Caucasus mountain range taken by the driver! A ‘vegetariana’ pizza from the place down the road went down well to complete the afternoon.
Fun Technical Run Around Black Lake on a Cloudy Day
Tuesday 3 September (Strava details)
This was more of a “lay-day” as one of my new Aussie friends would put it. I had a relaxing start and did some trip planning towards Bled before getting out for a fun technical run around Black Lake on a bleak day. Even the ‘easy option’ was surprisingly rocky and interesting!
Durmitor Days No. 4 : Red Rocks
Wednesday 4 September (Strava details)
My final outing on the Durmitor (never say never…) was a mission to Red Rocks. Unfortunately that cloudy weather from the day before persisted throughout my run. The weather couldn’t stop the fun though – I got packed up and headed out the door!
There were no views due to the cloud, but lots of rocky technical trail was enjoyed today. Things were particularly interesting at times near the cliffs at the top. I struggled to locate a trail junction and spent a bit more time up there than I needed to. The options for longer / more missions out there were tantalizing!
Arriving back to the hostel I was pleased to have made the most of a short stay in an amazing place! Stefan had bought a lot of alcohol for his birthday, and I enjoyed a nice sugary soda. Zabljak was a blast! And I must say there is still some slop in that Sedlo to Bobotov crown…
Thursday 5 September
It was a cruisy start before catching the bus to Kotor, which was thankfully a shorter trip than others had experienced. After check in I sweated up a storm running up to Fort St. John via the free entrance. The views above the town were majestic!
After doubtful dissuasion from one of the hostel receptionists (tut-tut, I’m no mere mortal…), I was stoked to meet experienced hiker Pava at the nearby travel consultants, who provided useful info for my next mission up to the Mausoleum of Petar II Petrovic-Njegos. Should be another cracker!