They are always magnificent so I would never miss a chance to visit them and check how is it up there, in the domain of Hahlići. As it is already known, Hahlići are sometimes, in a flattering manner but also justified because nothing similar can be found in Croatia, called Grobnik Alps (croatian: Grobničke Alpe). If Hahlići are just a little bit „alpine“, I believe I would love the Alps also. To this day, I was never in Alps except once in Slovenian Julian Alps. I sense some itching, gotta go there real soon!

A little bit of boasting of choosing again the perfect day for hiking! A beautiful day in front of us

 

Rolling our way to Podkilavac and as we dig deeper into Gorski Kotar, there is more and more snow

Although I tend to be very shy and kinda stingy when it comes to beautiful mountains, sometimes I gladly share them with new, or any kind of people. My humble opinion is that quality times in mountains can be ruined by too many people. Mountain is not a place for caravans and large crowds. We have enough of that in the valleys, thank you. Our Hahlići expedition had 10 members – 9 humans and one dog. It seems that Bela is a very popular name for a female dog because lately, I’ve been meeting only four-legged Belas. Anyways, another cool and cute muzzle, ready to conquer the mountains. Our plan is to leave Zagreb at 8:00 am, so parents can leave their kids and dogs at their babysitters. Ottoman the Magnificient (a mountain pug), who absolutely dominated Ravna Gora a couple of weeks ago, cannot go in the realm of Hahlići because of his small paws and there are a lot of stones on the terrain. If you have a good car, it takes around hour and a half from Zagreb to Podkilavac. We drive a 23 year young Peugeout 106 (thank you grandpa! Wherever you might be now, know that little lion is still running around like new!) so we need to start our journey a little bit earlier. That is no problem to me, I like driving especially when there are no other cars on the highway. It is a kind of freedom, just driving in one direction, no matter how much it takes. Very resting for my brain. Very zen, yeah.

The seasons will change as we make our progress to the top. In the beginning, it seemed we totally screwed up the choice of necessary equipment

 

This time I am not the team leader. A cool guy named Andrej took over and I can enjoy a little bit without being anxious about getting or not getting the path right. I’m just joking, I know these trails very well but still, when you lead new people to a new place for them, a man gotta be careful. Sometimes it is the difficulty of the trail that bothers them, sometimes you make a wrong turn, nothing big that would get you stranded in the mountains and you would have to turn into a cannibal, but every wrong choice gets their confidence in you down. A leader must be firm, he or she needs to know what he or she is doing. Not much wiggling space for „living in the moment“, no sir. A little bit of truth about people who „want“ to go hiking and I get a lot of those: many people will tell you, after seeing the breathtaking photos from your last weekend, they want to go with you, call me next time baby, okay? As a person who kinda excells in bringing many unusual people to the various, mostly local, mountain tops, I can tell you that most people actually DON’T want to go hiking. The idea sounds good to them but when the mountain starts to bite, they get discouraged and then it is usually the guide’s fault (hello, that is me!). I learned to de-attach and just go with the flow, even when the grumpies are at my back. Yes, it is easy to be calm when no one is around, when the silence hits you like a train and you’re happy. It is a completely different story with other people’s energy and exhausted, usually not trained enough bodies. Everybody is going to look at you as a madman when you say you love suffering and training but here you go, this is why I train – kinda got into running because of wanting to be more fit for the mountains. I do a lot of things only because of the mountains. I am probably still alive because of the mountains. The mountains are the best place a man can be. This time, Andrej chose for us „under the mountain“ as the ascend path. A good choice since it is the easiest way up to Hahlići.

 

While we wait for others, from the direction of Obruč a well equipped man comes towards us, drinking beer and saying: „No, don’t go to Obruč now. The snow in the forest is fresh and you can easily fall through. You are beerless? Oh no, definitely don’t go to Obruč. You don’t have the equipment.“ – I just love those crazy guys

 

Under influence of our mountain friend, we decide we will not go to Obruč. It is an hour and a half hike and the terrain is not very friendly, not when covered with snow. We leave Obruč for our spring return to Hahlići. Still, we make a weird decision of going to Suhi vrh (and thinking about Fratar at that time) which is kinda tricky even when the terrain is dry. To reach Suhi vrh, you gotta climb a little, get on all fours but nothing that would be too hard. Suhi vrh is closer than Obruč so we decided to go there. I try not to say this infamous „I told you so“, but we started our ascend a little bit too late, at least while considering a short winter day.

Just a little bit more of enjoying the view and then we start to descend. Someone asked what is that little hill in the distance, on the left side. So it happens to be that little hill in the distance is the Croatian mythical mountain – Velebit

 

The descend was unusually easy. The holes in the stones got me worried because you cannot see them under snow but it was even easier than during spring or summer. When we got down, two trail runners were just starting to make their run to the top of Suhi vrh. Our expedition was actually made out of sportsmen/women so those runners didn’t seem so weird but it is always a little weird to see them, trying to „run“ when you have to climb, trying to make it as fast as they can. We shouldn’t make any difference between good people who decided to spend their precious free time in the mountains, breathing in the good mountain air. Anyway, a trail runner is just a runner, not a mountaineer. A race is always a race in the end and there is this component of time and speed, gotta make time, gotta be faster… Actually, nothing really spiritual in that one. A mountain has to be inhaled slowly and with care. You need to be present in the moment, not thinking about future nor past. Future time, future time, makes you forget and kills the present moment. Thinking and reflecting on things takes time. Mountaineering is for me very similar to philosophy, to the process that happens in us when we „philosophize“. Running is for conditioning, it is rushing ahead and a sport.

Rock’n’Roll tempo towards the Hahlići mountain hut. There await us rakija, beer and food from the backpack. Okay, to be honest, it was Sunday and the mountaineers from Saturday drank almost all of the beer. Just another heads up: if you want to drink beer on Hahlići, carry it with you or come on a Saturday

 

While you are close to the mountain hut, you can clearly see Suhi vrh and Fratar

 

The mountain hut is almost empty. Eating food, drinking little amounts of beer, changing clothes. It was good to take a break beside the furnace. The only problem is that Bela wasn’t allowed inside the hut so someone had to be with her outside. They should allow dogs inside the huts because they are mountaineers also. Better and more loyal than humans.

View from the terrace

Time to go back (route for our descend is Čeka) and on the way we pass the frozen Hahlići (or Kalići) – the whole place got it’s name because of these drinking spots for horses and cattle

 

The descend was in the last part of the day, the sun was falling down towards Učka. The views were astonishing: Kvarner, Učka, everything and more on a plate. Hahlići are truly otherworldly. I cannot describe with words how much I love Hahlići. Better not to keep you waiting, buckle up!

In one moment, during the descend, we all just sat down in the grass (watch out for the horse shit while you’re at it!), getting showered by the last sunrays. It was a zen moment for sure

 

We were back at Podkilavac where we left our cars. Sportswatch says we hiked for 13 kilometres which took us four hours and fifteen minutes of active moving (I didn’t count the pauses and moments of rest – we were in the mountains the whole day). At our starting and ending point we drink one beer, as is tradition. The rest of the crew went to feast in the local restaurant. Ana and me pass this time, we still need to roll back to Zagreb in our little car.

Oh, how beautiful and sweet is the sleep of a mountain righteous man and woman. Stay healthy, safe and see you in the mountains!

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.
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