18. January 2017.   •     Davor

We planned a winter hike to the highest peak of Bjelolasica, better yet the highest peak of Gorski Kotar region. A cold winter hiking weekend was in front of us. Days prior to the announcement of the apocalyptic weather forecasts, “The Magnificent Seven” (Sale, Šiki, Beli, Mrle, Koza, Danko and I) were planning an escape to the mountains.

Kula, the highest peak of Bjelolasica

The buzz around the polar cold and the expected snowfall did not scare us. It has only directed us towards Kula, 1534 m. Since we associate many tremendously awesome memories along with the name, no hesitation or doubt was aroused. Let’s do this, even if we returned as penguins.

Bjelolasica winter hike
Overnight lodge

So, it was Friday morning. We gathered and drove straight to Ogulin, to pick up Koza. We reached Vrelo. At the bottom of the former ski slope Bjelolasica, now a ghost town, we parked our cars and followed the path toward the ridge. The temperature was quite low but not as the forecast announced. The climb along the trail was covered with snow and hard frozen, rocky surface. We slowly accomplished it, step by step. Each meter of the ascent brought greater exposure, where the wind intensified. Cold feeling was increasing.

The hikers

Winter hike towards the mountain hut

When we came to the last shelter, once the ski-lift hanger, the wind was so strong and cold that we crowded into the small room to keep warm. We added another layer of protection to the head. Rested briefly and strongly continued over the ridge towards the mountain hut. Conditions on the ridge were like in high mountains, layers are interspersed with quite profound snow. Therefore, we walked sideways, partly on to the south side and partly on the north of the ridge, of course we progressed slowly. Walking along the north side, the strong winds brought the chills. The right side of our faces froze to the extent of pain. Fingers and toes were also slightly frozen, but nevertheless there was something alluring and relaxing in that white coldness.

The famous ridge

“the lonely sleeping giant”

Soon we came to an area where the forest stops. The view opens 360 degrees. On the north “the lonely sleeping giant” appeared (for those who don’t know, that’s the artistic name for Klek).  Confirming Veco’s statement (Veco, a distinctive character from Ogulin, one would say a friend) “Man, wherever you are, you always see Klek!”

Bjelolasica winter hike
View to the sea

On the other hand, the south view opened towards the islands and the sea. We were moving towards the west, so we could see the Alps as well. Shortly after, the mountain ridge became bald. Which meant the end of our freezing is close. We were approaching the mountain hut Jakob Mihelčić. Once we arrived we immediately set the fire and most importantly we set the mulled wine on the stove. Older people say it’s great for internal heating.

The next day we did a two-hour circular tour and return to the shelter. The day brought pure enjoyment, with the sunset that lasted unexpectedly long. On Sunday we returned to the valley.

The team

Great weekend all in all. If we had listened to the advises from the meteorologists, about not leaving the house, we would have missed this great weekend. And why we ask? Because of colder winter days that used to be a normal part of winter time. Not so long ago, we didn’t worry about it. Children enjoyed playing outside in the healthy winter cold. Old people did basic tasks around the house. Life went along its course, as planned. But today we are bombarded with half-truth. Quite normal situations are given an exclusive tone. So, that would keep us inside our four walls in front of that luminous device opposite the sofa. Remember this:

“There is no bad weather, only bad preparation!