“Blind and visually impaired hikers who, under the auspices of the InPlaninec committee of the Alpine Association of Slovenia, are conquering the Slovenian mountain trail, are also happy to participate in inclusive hikes, where we meet people with other disabilities. Being served by the deaf in mountain huts has already become a real constant. It was precisely they who took the first step, as they prepared menus in Braille for us, and there were vibrating pagers on the tables that enabled sending a message about payment or ordering a drink. And that prompted the idea in us, well in me – blind people will learn Slovenian sign language.”
This month we continue learning Slovenian sign language. We spent the late spring and summer on various mountains. We included our May and June ascents among the LLW events coordinated by the Alpine Association of Slovenia.
Despite the rain, we visited Dobrča in May. The very next day, we visited the Hell Gorge at Borovnica. As the hike there is challenging even for experienced mountaineers, every blind or visually impaired person had two companions, one walking in front and the other behind them. Thus, any accident was ruled out.
The following weekend, more than 250 of us went on the inclusive hike on the Oljka Mountain organised as part of the Mobility–impaired People Conquer Mountains campaign. In addition to the blind and visually impaired, more than 70 people with physical disabilities joined the hike. It’s hard to say which trip is more beautiful. All of them are wonderful, but this one is undoubtedly one of the most memorable. We spent the whole day in beautiful nature, basking in the sun.
We visited the Vrata Valley and the Peričnik Waterfall before the summer. The mobility-impaired and AMA neurodiverse people also joined us on this hike. We had refreshments and listened to the programme at Aljaž Lodge, under the mighty northern wall of Triglav. Just as always, there was no shortage of cheerfulness and singing. What is common in all our hikes is that we are welcomed and served exceptionally well everywhere.
I participated in hikes to Svetina, Bevkov vrh, Ermanovec, Triglav Lakes and Krn in the summer.
The mobility-impaired people reached Alma’s house in Svetina by road from the mountain hut Celjska koča. It was particularly interesting at the end of the hike, as the International Festival of Folk Musicians organised by the Associations of Accordionists, Guitarists and Bassists at the Accordion from Celje was carried out there. The mountaineers who were there sang and danced. The atmosphere was delightful.
The very next day, we went to Bevkov vrh and Ermanovec. Blind and visually impaired mountaineers set off from the Na Ravan farm to Bevkov vrh and from there along the mountain path to Ermanovec, while the mobility-impaired people went to their destination by road from Podlanišče. At Ermanovec, we had refreshments, listened to the cultural programme and then went to the chapel with the bell tower. From Ermanovec, we could admire the beautiful hilly landscape scattered with rare farms.
In July, we already started hiking in the high mountain areas. First, we went to Stol and the next day to Vogel. The high mountain areas are, of course, more demanding than the medium mountain regions. We returned over the Šija Mountain. The descent was challenging, but care was taken to ensure that even the hike on the wedges ran smoothly.
A fantastic two-day hike to the Triglav Lakes was also successful. We first stopped at the Kugy monument and water spring in the Trenta Valley. From there, we set off on a long hike towards Prehodavci and the seven Triglav Lakes. We ascended all the time and covered about 1400 meters of altitude.
Despite the sun’s intense heat, the views of the mighty two-thousand-metre mountains around eased all our efforts. In front of us was Kanjavec, and to our left was Jalovec, with Mangart peeking out from behind. The mountain Lepo Špičje was on our right side all the time. In some places, the path is steep.
Along the way, we enjoyed eating strawberries, which are tastier here than in the valley. To get to the mountain hut Zasavska koča in Prehodavci, we still had to walk quite a bit of path, which ascends in zig-zags. Here we took a break and had a snack, so we could more easily continue the journey along which the Triglav Lakes line up under the mighty Hribarica and Zelnarica mountains. The whole way, we descended among flowering meadows. While walking, we heard the whistling of marmots and soon saw one of these cute animals. Just before Tičarica Mountain, it got cloudy, and we felt the first drops. The path was already becoming more difficult because of this. We finally arrived at the mountain hut at the Triglav Lakes. As we settled in, heavy rain poured down. After dinner, there was a social gathering and our anthem, A Decisive Step, echoed. Our joy was contagious. There were also quite a few foreign hikers in the mountain hut.
We had a good night’s sleep and continued our hike alongside the beautiful blooming meadows, past the Dedno polje plateau to the Planina Jezero plateau, where we had a short break and then continued our journey to the Planina Blato plateau.
From Kuhinja Mountain, we continued our hike to Krn. We admired Lake Krn and ended the day at the mountain hut there. We were joined by our group of hikers who came from Lepena.
It rained during the night, but there was good weather again in the morning, and we set off towards Bogatin Pass. Many remains from the time of the Isonzo Front are seen along the way. However, despite the never again pledge, wars are still happening. We stopped at the mountain hut Koča pod Bogatinom, admired the beautiful mountain flowers along the way and later enjoyed pancakes given to us by the friendly staff in the mountain hut Dom na Komni. Finally, after countless twists and turns, we descended to the Savica waterfall and ended the successful hike in Lesce.
Special praise goes to our excellent coordinators, Marjeta Čič and Jurček Nowakk, who ensure our hikes are beautiful, safe and successful. Every time, just before we go on a hike, Jurček walks each route first by himself and makes sure everything is as it should be, especially if something is destroyed, for example, after heavy downpours. Nothing is left to chance. But, of course, the discipline of hikers and following the instructions and rules is also essential. That’s why everything goes flawlessly and safely, as the organisation is truly excellent.
Both people with blindness and visual impairment and their companions are looking forward to the hikes yet to come.
Marija Metlika (firstname.lastname@example.org), volunteer