It was a national holiday here in Croatia and you know what that means? No work and all play, that is right. Who wants to work really anyway? The forecast was good, our friends were ready to join us (we would go even if they cancelled, that is the truth, but it is always good to have great, hand-picked people to keep you company in the mountains) and everything was screaming “MOUNTAINS” more than ever. With the almost summer date like this, you gotta be careful because it tends to get really hot so stay away from the sun. Gorski kotar mountain region is known for it’s cooler summers and temperature in general. This time we picked an especially “cool” route that leads you from Platak, a ski resort above Grobničko polje, to Schlosser mountain lodge and eventually to the peak of Great Risnjak. Ninety percent of the route is going through the forest so you don’t have to be afraid of overheating. People living in or around Rijeka and Istria usually use this well marked route while adventurers coming from the continent* are more prone to use the main gate to the Risnjak National Park, located in Crni Lug, Bijela Vodica as their starting point.

With GPS systems at a today’s decent level and everybody having smart phones, technicalities could be skipped but for you coming from Zagreb: just drive down the highway direction Rijeka, get off at Delnice exit, drive straight on the old road towards Rijeka, when you see the signs for Platak ski resort, turn right and then drive up the serpentines until you reach your destination. There is a really big parking lot at the main Platak plateu. It is a two, two and a half drive max from Zagreb. Really approachable and straightforward, really. Some of you might want to drive on the highway all the way to Grobničko polje (Kikovica exit) and that is also fine, but then you will not be teased and dragged into planning your next adventure at and near the Lokvarsko lake which can be seen from the old road towards Rijeka. You are stuck with this nature loving everytime-I-go-somewhere-I-find-myself-planning-another-trip stuff so you just might embrace it fully and give in to it.

Accurate representation of the hype when you're about to go to Risnjak National Park

Now for the juicy (we are talking mainly about sweat here) hiking part. Route is around 8 kilometres long in one direction and it will probably take you around two, two and a half hours to get to Risnjak, depending on your pace of course. Yeah, we always say that we are not in the “right” physical condition but I have found that to be only bad excuses for thinking/being afraid you’ll be too slow and, which is worse, not to train in the future because very often at the end you find that you can make it even without regular training. So, yes – if that was a question, you could probably make through this route without rigorous training. But you know what? We hikers, I mean this kind of hikers that I belong to, don’t really care about speeding, being fast nor looking too fancy on the mountain, not getting all sweaty and sticky icky. I have heard and tried a lot of things about enjoying the nature in the faster pace and that is okay – like with everything else, people need to try different things and decide for themselves what suits ’em best, rightie? I prefer to inhale my mountains slowly and enjoy the pleasure and pain of it real slow. You? Well, you suit yourself.

Cajtige crossing

One of the checkpoints is the Cajtige crossing. To reach it, you will have to follow the really well marked trail for about hour and a half. Actually, towards Cajtige, we managed to get little off trail. Some interesting topic was on the menu and we just didn’t make the right turn. Always follow the markings and everything’s going to be just fine. The talking is actually a sign that the part of the route is easy and then people talk. Silence usually means everybody is thinking: why the hell am I doing this to myself, on my day off, in my free time I could have used to chill out, eat and drink with my friends, having a peaceful day sitting somewhere, maybe in front of my PC, not moving too much? The answer is: because you are a marvelous bastard, that’s why. Now stop asking stupid questions and hike on. There is a big signpost with directions at Cajtige crossing so, again, you cannot get lost. Some of you might be not so happy but the route goes uphill. The trail goes up and down during the whole hike but at the end, when you’re really close to Schlosser meadow, it will start to bite and chew.

Don’t worry, you are soon to be resting at the Schlosser’s palace. I was slightly disappointed when we realized that the mountain lodge isn’t working. Didn’t bother to find some newer information but the Internets say that the lodge is working everyday, from May to September. Okay, cold beer has been cancelled, gotta live with that. About the lodge and being surprised when you find it not working: my advice is not to be surprised. Last time I was here, I was actually surprised that IT WAS, indeed, working. It was on the last years Risnjak trail race when many, not so serious, racers were enjoying some cold beers on the way down. I am not sure about that, but maybe two or three years ago, the superintendents of the Schlosser mountain lodge changed.

Schlosser's palace finally

The details are a little tricky to write about because the previous superintendents were actually scared to continue their work here. My right winged friends always like to hear this kind of stories because it just fuels them to be even more intolerant concerning the immigrant question. So, yes, the story is about some people, prolly immigrants because Risnjak is actually on their usual routes towards Slovenia, towards the greater Western Europe and World, the white, rich man’s world, whatever. One of those groups broke in the Schlosser mountain lodge, broke down the door, broke all the windows, made camp fire inside the building, shit on the floor even when there were fully functioning toilets and plainly speaking just made a big mess. Yes, Rick and Morty fans will probably ‘member the hit single Get Schwifty from our beloved duo:

Take off your pants and your panties
Shit on the floor
Time to get schwifty in here

You could say that those people really got schwifty in the Schlosser palace. Superintendents quit, saying they no longer feel safe here. I met aunt Vesna (she is everybody’s mountain aunt, although I’m not sure she would like that title and all those people calling her aunt), she is absolutely great. There is a picture of her hand feeding a fox in front of the Schlosser lodge! You know what? If the fox, that dog-cat sneaky git trusts her, I trust her too. She wasn’t feeling safe and that’s it. This is the reason you sometimes, even today, cannot enjoy a cold one at Schlosser’s. Of course, organizational problems yada yada yada. We want Vesna and beer back!

Getting up, towards the Great Risnjak peak

We took a little break in the shadow of the old Schlosser. The plan was to first reach our goal for today, the peak of Great Risnjak (1528 metres above sea level) and then eat something… or everything. So, no cooling down entirely before the job for a mountain cowboy is done. It is a 15 minute climb to le grande Risnjak. You will finally use your hands a little and there is a short ferrata near the top. Nothing anyone could not manage. The views are absolutely amazing: on a good day you can see the whole Kvarner, Učka and Ćićarija mountains, island of Krk, croatian Snježnik, slovenian Snježnik, Guslica military base, Lokvarsko lake, Velebit mountain range and the Schlosser’s palace in front of you, of course. Here you go Tarnished, your rewards!

Come and find peace at the peak of Great Risnjak (pray that there are no other people up there, of course)

From left to right: Snježnik (croatian), Guslica, Snežnik (slovenian)

After overeating fruits, sweets and sandwiches, we gave drugs (Aspirin +C) to some poor woman whose legs hurt. Always ready to help people and get them drugged, yes sir-e! Well, that’s sports! In one moment, a lot of people were just chilling in front of the Schlosser. We decided to go because we still have to get back to Platak and one of the more wild additions to the plan was to visit Snježnik on the way back. Unfortunately, my companions were really tired and Tix got some problems with his leg, Risnjak bite gave him a spasm. We decided not to go to Snježnik this time and I suggested to them that they visit Snježnik when they go to the underground conference that is soon being held in Guslica. *hue hue hue*

Brauzeit after the hike, so good

When we got back to Platak, it was time for some real refreshments at the big mountain lodge Platak. They have really great food there and beer also, although every kind of beer, even lager bier, would be good after 17 kilometres of hiking. But really, Stiegl bio-zwickl is some high quality beer. We all got a mushroom soup and everyone wanted more. There was some chicken for our carnivorous friends, gnocchi with freshly picked bear onion and vegetarian plate with a lot of yummy stuff on it.

Dreaming about the future endeavours

Now, stuffed to the limits of the bearable, we just need to get back to Zagreb. We stopped a little bit at Platak viewpoint and caught ourselves staring at the sea, distant mountains and romantically dreaming of our next adventures. Buckle up suckers, this is only the beginning.

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About the Author: Borna

Borna is a student of philosophy. He loves mountains, books, and video games and is in possession of a pretty awesome LEGO collection. Listens to music almost all the time but also likes the silence. You will probably find him reading a book, roaming the mountains of RL, or trying to bring home bounty in the vast swamps of Bayou.
One Comment
  1. Adrian June 17, 2022 at 10:59 am - Reply

    I love your style! :-) And Risnjak looks great!

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