Getting Lost Over the Weekend 1 – Western Julian Alps

posted in: Europe, GLOW | 0

When hearing the word Alps, most people think of the high mountain peaks, climbing or at least trekking. But there is so much more to do and to see in the region. Julian Alps are no exception. The Western Julian Alps lie on the border between Slovenia and Italy and are a popular weekend goal for many visitors. But there are places that don’t see many tourists. Even in Italy, if you believe.

 Roads in Rezija and other valleys of the Western Julian Alps are very curvy and bending. Popular with motorbike riders. Following the almost forgotten dirtroads in the valley of Rezija. They can lead to the most beautiful places.

For one there is the Valley of Rezija (Val Resia). Only lately it is becoming popular to visitors due to canyoning, trekking and a renewed mountian dairy in Kot (Malga Coot, N46° 19.779′ E13° 25.665′). The mountain massif of Kanin overlooks the valley that can be reached whether by nice winding road from the valley of Učja (Uccea) near Bovec or from the highway in Kanalska Valley (Val Canale). The forests and the rivers are extremely beautiful and there are still some places where you can enjoy the solitude. Even on a summer weekend.

 Feet dipping in the river Ronek (Ronc in italian). The water is very cold. Great canyoning can be done higher upstream. From the pastures of mountain dairy Kot (Coot in italian) you can see the whole valley of Rezija as clear as day Finding a good spot for a bivouac is always essential.

Don’t be too shocked – the inhabitants of Rezija speak a unique dialect, known as the Resian. According to most linguists, Resian is a transitory dialect between the Carinthian and Littoral dialects of Slovene. Even as a Slovene I can barely understand their language in written form, but I do remember an ancient TV series called “The Little Beasts of Rezija“. 

There are many similar valleys in the area – Reklanica (Val Raccolana), Dunja (Val Dogna), Valley of Mrzla voda (Val Riofreddo – literraly valley of the cold water), all worth visiting. From Rezija you can pass the valey of Reklanica and over Sella Nevea to Rabeljska Valley (Val Rio del Lago). Most people just visit Rabeljsko Lake (Lago di Predil, nice place to swim at N46° 24.999′ E13° 33.501′) where you can swim and rent boats or Belopeška Lakes (Laghi di Fusine, enrance at N46° 28.936′ E13° 40.498′). Keep in mind those are fairly popular spots on weekends and instead of the nice hike around the lakes you can spend an hour struggling along the path fighting your way through a mass of overperfumed italian pensioners, bored teens staring at their cellphones and overenthusiastic cyclists dragging their precious bikes over deeply rutted paths. Not to mention the automotive chaos of cars looking for a parking place. But the views are still very nice.

The lower Belopeško lake (Laghi di Fusine in italian) with magnificient Mangart mountain massif in the backdrop offers good opportunities for a snapshot. Hiking in the woods is one of the many activities you can pursue in the region.

From Belopeška Lakes on you can complete the circle trip by climbing the Vršič pass to the Valley of Trenta and on to Bovec. The Virje Waterfall (N46° 20.092′ E13° 30.838′) on Gljun brook is a nice place to visit even during crowded summer days. Swim at your own rish though, the water rarely reaches 10°C. To end the weekend with swimming in beatiful gorges of Nadiža river (N46° 14.922′ E13° 29.954′) is just a bonus or, as they say, a cherry on a cake.

Most, not just more, days should end like this. Real man's baking iron - this way che embers of the evening fire come to some use - you can make anything from spaghetti to toast. No bivouac is perfect without fire.

Activities to pursue: hiking, trekking and ferrata climbing various mountain paths from mount Montaž (Montasio) to peaks aroud Vršič pass, cycling & downhill, swimming, bathing, canyoning, rafting, paragliding,… the list goes on and on. Mountain huts offer traditional foods. Bending routes are popular with motobike riders. During winter season skiing is great too, but some lifts operate during summer too.

The magical upper pools of Gljun brook. The waters of the pools under Virje waterfall are quite murky - a result of numerous swimmers seeking to chill themselves in the summer heat. But you can still see a trout here and there. Swimming in the Great gorges of Nadiža river is perfect to wash the dust off and relax before heading home after an eventful weekend.

Keep in mind that the area is partly protected as national park Parco Naturale Regionale delle Prealpi Giulie and most of the dirt roads, especially in more popular areas, are blocked by rail barriers and often under camera surveillance to. If you decide to partake in forbidden pleasure of wildcamping don’t forget that forest guards patrol the area and are equiped wit 4x4s.

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