Hiking Razor, Slovenia

Hiking Razor, Slovenia

What does it take to get large blisters? Not very much, besides mesmerizing mountains, some determination, and lots of naivety.

South-east view from Razor towards Triglav.

It’s 0:30 a.m. when I faintly recognize my alarm clock. It takes a moment until I realize what’s going on. I get up, briefly change into the uncomfortably cold clothes, put on my hiking boots, shoulder my 10kg bag, and step in the vast valley below the starlit sky. It’s chilly at this time of day and I put on gloves and a scarf, although I know this will change only a few hours from now. Where am I headed? Toward a nearby mountain, which is yet so distant.

5.48 a.m. – waiting for the sun to rise.

At the heart of the Julian alps there is Razor, a distinct peak barely reaching the 2600 meter threshold. Several routes are possible; I am taking the shortest and steepest one, from Soča Valley 1400m uphill towards Pogačnikov dom, and then another 600m altitude to reach the summit.

Why do I start so early? Because I want to be in time for the rising sun. Because I want to re-experience what I witnessed last year (twice): feeling on top of the world, as the world itself still seems asleep.

South-west view from Razor into the Soča valley.

The beginning goes smoothly; as always, nature is mysterious and the eerie sounds and schemes of the forest drive away the last tiredness. I look into the dark and pairs of glowing eyes look back, attached to invisible bodies. Although I am confident in my stamina, the long winding ascent becomes more and more strenuous. I swiftly reach the hut after 3 hours but I feel that my legs are getting heavy. In hindsight, being so fast on the first part was maybe one of my mistakes to begin with. After the hut, the path first winds along grassy slopes before leading through large screes as it gets steeper and steeper. Some sections are secured with fixed ropes to clip into. After reaching Ganja pass, a last steep ascent awaits. Then, I have defeated the 2000m vertical elevation; in roughly five hours, and an hour before sunrise.

The mighty mountain itself: Triglav in the heart of the Triglav national park.

Due to the height difference, this route is often considered to be a two day trip with a sleepover in the hut, potentially also linking other summits. And while the ascent on its own feels fine for now, the way back down will teach me otherwise.

Now, at 5:30 a.m. the morning light just settles in; the hills in the distance are plunged in a deep and profound glow with a color palette ranging from pitch black to lavender to saffron yellow. Colors I have never seen anywhere else besides when being on a mountain top at this time of day. An astounding show the sun and atmosphere prepare every day, and that far too few people ever witness. The elegance of nature has the power to amend the human heart.

Distant views towards Austria, shortly before sunrise.
Hazy valleys deep below.

I relish the brief moments, well aware how quickly they pass by; the sun appears and transforms the landscape. It rises in the distance and brings the long awaited warmth. It also brings a new palette of colors, contrasting the ones from the hour before: pastels all around.

And already, I head back again. Normally, I am rather quick going downhill, but this time is different. The path feels like it never ends and the daylight reveals what I could only suspect a few hours before: it’s steep, it’s long, and there are endless hairpin bends. My legs hurt, and a particularly unpleasant blister gets worse and worse.

Getting back down takes me longer than getting to the top, but it was worth every second.

I would do it again, right away.

Dreamscapes

Dreamscapes

Surreal dreams in pink and black
appeal to me, insomniac
part-time, I mime
the creatures of the dark,
embark on voyages into
the mind, without a crew
through untrue realms to leave
behind mankind. 
Retrieve the unconfined
autonomy, the undefined
metonymy
of life.

I like it here,
revere the fear of unknown
years to come, of jointly tears,
of joys alone, of memories in stone
engraved, the best is saved
in our hearts until the end
when we transcend
to afterlife.

17 Dimensions of Summer

17 Dimensions of Summer

Long summer days. I take my bike
through fields of maize, enjoy a hike
through nature which decays and fades
below the sun, without real shades.
Water is sparse, efforts a farce;
records are shattered every week,
the future seems a little bleak.
Some keep silent, some play dumb,
some object, but their effect
seems paltry, like a tiny drop
into an ocean, and they stop
too soon: there is no change.
Another flood, another slum,
1000 dead, and thousands fled,
a joke compared with what's to come.
It will be millions without bread.
It will be billions' awful threat.

Birding

Birding

Sometimes, it feels like I am already experiencing symptoms of an aging body and mind: I am getting more conservative, my back often hurts, recovery from sports takes longer, and suddenly I appreciate trees. And flowers. And birds.

In my younger days, I was convinced that birdwatching is boring; but it has grown on me. Birds are adorable. From the smallest goldcrest to the great bustard (hopefully I’ll see one someday), every type of bird is so unique and fascinating and there is so much to learn: about their behaviour, calls, appearance, and migration patterns. Depending on the employed definition, there are between 10,000 and 20,000 bird species on earth. In Scotland we saw at least 63, many of which I have never seen before. I was a real treat to experience the puffins, razorbills, and guillemots at the coast. On our last day alone we spotted a spoonbill, a barnowl, sedge warblers, and a gannet, none of which I had ever seen before.

But again, the climate is changing everything: The spoonbill populations are slowly shifting north due to the increasing temperature. We got told that it was only the second time that an individual was spotted at the small lake where we parked over night. It is estimated that 15% of all species might go extinct soon (in evolutionary timescales) because they cannot cope with the rapid changes of the climate. Around our hometown some bird populations even increase, but the majority declines. Especially endangered are those that breed on farming grounds because of the streamlined agriculture occupying large amounts of space, often with monocultures. On the bright side: At least around here there are also increasing amounts of ‘Blühstreifen’, strips of wild herbs and flowers that are incorporated into the conventional agriculture and run along all the fields of wheat and corn. And if it doesn’t work out for the birds, my personal contingency plan is to just see all 10,000 species soon enough.

Photo Post: P25

Photo Post: P25

Record temperature highs all around, forest fires all over Europe, and an advancing drought that threatens food and energy production – only a small glimpse of what will come.

So, instead of exposing ourselves to the constant stream of news, we enjoyed some of the beautiful nature nearby by hiking the P25 trail near Kleinalmerode. It’s one of the newest premium trails in Hesse and the closest one to our home. Normally, Kleinalmerode is known for its cherry blossom in late spring; but during this time of year we strolled through barley fields, found lots of insects scaling cornflowers, and observed bumblebees exploring the landscape of flowers. It also revived my passion for macro-photography and hopefully I’ll manage to use some more of these long Summer days to pursue photography.

Photo Post: Pause

Photo Post: Pause

A small selection of pictures taken on our way to and on the Isle of Skye, Scotland. Dramatic weather made for some interesting skies during the middle of the day, but (near) constant rain spoiled the hiking and photography fun. Skye is beautiful; but so is the mainland. However, unlike the mainland Skye is flooded with tourists. So we agreed that this single visit is enough for us for now.

Photo Post: Panic

Photo Post: Panic

I’ve been bouldering a lot (on plastic) recently and it feels great to be back in form! But the last time climbing is a looooooong time ago. At least until last Sunday morning, when I finally managed to squeeze in a short climbing session with my long-time friend and climbing partner. Everything is different outside: Bad footholds, fragile sandstone, and being on a rope high above the last clipping point. Sometimes, a slight fear of falling creeps into the mind. Sometimes, even the good footholds seem tiny and slippery.

Basically, it’s the same as with my current work project: It feels a little insecure, but you keep pushing, little by little, one move at at time. Take a deep breath, do secure movements, calm down, climb high. And luckily, in climbing and in life, there are people who catch me if I fall. Thank you.

Photo Post: Pace

Photo Post: Pace

Here is a brief one featuring some pictures from Scotland (again). Time is tight at the moment, but there will be more posts again soon (I hope).

Time is tight, daylight confined, night comes too soon right after noon.
Despite, I fight with steady pace, I brace myself: A final race.

The World’s End

The World’s End

The road's last bend, the world does end
right here. The sphere succumbs,
a lonesome spot remains.

Mountains looming, all consuming
oceans everywhere.
The soul gets lost and tossed around
between the dunes and seagull sounds.

This place will stay when we decay,
mere joy engraved that does transcend
the end of our finite time.