For too long I have been absent from serious mountaineering, devoured by the city life and insatiable lust for playing badminton night and day. Anyhow, we are in dire need of mountaineering training because in August we have an intimate meeting with mr. Triglav. So, in a combination of happy willfulness, panic and nervous sweat, we planned our weekend in Gorski kotar.

Fellowship managing the first ascends

A short remark about photos: almost all photos were taken by my companions and I thank them for sharing it with me for purposes of this travelogue. The memes, on the other hand, are all mine. Your dear meme lord.

The fellowship consists of 6 brave and young people: Marta and Marko, Vida and Boris and, last but not least, Ana and me. You had a chance to get to know my older cousin Vida in the article about Boč. Marta is my younger cousin and she also loves nature, mountains and healthy living in general. Most know Kezeles to be kinda introverted people of knowledge (and power?) but our gene also implies fiery love for nature wandering. We got it probably from our dear grandpa Bobi who always loved to take long strolls through the forest, but most of all he loved ‘shroom hunting. So Kezele fellowship it is plus the unfortunate people who decided to get romantically involved with us.

The weather forecast for the weekend (it was actually an expanded weekend because Monday was the International Worker’s Day – in Croatia it is a big opportunity to barbecue whole day and get wasted) was crazy. It was literally changing by the hour. Ana, who mostly did the logistics for our trip, was under stress and constantly checking the forecast. We even got warnings from other mountaineers that we should just forget about everything because „it is not a good weekend for mountaineering“. Well, you know what? Screw the pessimistic fuckers. They were wrong.

The starting point for our first day was a place called Vagabundo’s hut which is in a perfect place to be an anchor for many peaks in vicinity. We heard that they have excellent food and we also booked the big sleeping room to stay overnight. Immediately at our arrival, this place looked promising. It is on a calm and kinda deserted road, in the Bribir estate. Some weekend houses start to emerge there but it’s still mostly vacant.

Here it is - Vagabundo's hut

We took the circular route which first goes onto Strilež (1369 m), then towards Viševica (1428 m) and then back to Vagabundo’s crib. We also had in mind Zagradski peak (1187 m) which is considered as one of the most beautiful vista points in Croatia. Yes, you are correct, there are many beautiful vistas in Croatia, you should try and visit them all. Path to Strilež was a good warm-up and we practiced to take our clothes on and off to maximize comfort and avoid overheating – you need to try and always wear layered clothing but you also need to feel when to peel of the layers. The group was advancing in a good pace and after about 5 kilometres we were on Strilež. We had a little pause to eat second breakfest but soon we marched towards Viševica. I sensed a great improvement in my companion’s mood after we reached our first goal for the day. The rest went like a well greased machine.

Strilež viewpoint - southern GK is famous for it's combination of mountain and almost sea climate

Strilež meditation in progress

Strilež knife and shovel party

Viševica is around 3 kilometres away from Strilež. We had to descend a little bit and then climb again but it was more than bearable. As if it knew, the sun started to shine with it’s full strength when we reached the peak of Viševica. Wind was not present and I would say we had the ideal weather conditions. Now and then I remembered when people said we should just stay at home. Oh, boy, they made such a mistake. At the peak we met one couple and their little black cat which was carried by the man on his backpack. It was the first time we saw such an installation!

Little cat hiking through southern GK - and where were you?!?

Here is another photo if someone doesn't believe his or her eyes

Viševica - perfect weather conditions, perfect resting place

Viševica viewpoint - man it is good to be alive!

View towards the continent - also precious

Collecting mountaineering stamps

The Viševica crew - the only peak from which we don't have a fellowship photo is Strilež

Our next goal is to return to Vagabundo’s hut. As I said, the day was perfect and we enjoyed strolling on the paths surrounded by huge amounts of Allium ursinum or better known as bear’s garlic. Vida and Boris took a class in herbology so they knew what we could eat and stay alive or not. We had our share of education also but I’m always suspicious with these things. A funny vegetarian, yes.

Look at all the garlic!

The hungry and thirsty vegetarian dragon’s book of praises and grudges

Let’s just cut to the chase: we were really hungry and the reputation of Vagabundo is notoriously good. First things are first, a well deserved beer was in order. Velebitsko is the beer you should be drinking while in the mountains. Everybody, except our dear Slovenian, chose a vegetarian plate. Boris ordered Vagabundo’s plate which is actually vegetarian plate plus meat. The picture will tell you more than words ever could. The only thing that was kinda sad are the jokes from the waiter who insinuated that vegetarians and vegans are “not normal” and the carnivores are “normal”. It was a bad joke and he was repeating it which made Boris a little bit angry but we calmed down the whole situation as taking it as we thought it was meant – as a (bad) joke. Let’s return to the important things in life! I will only say that I never thought that spinach patties (we called them „gumbeki“ – little buttons in english, because they were so small but nevertheless tasty) could be so good. Cooked and stewed barley, mushrooms, polenta even… damn, it was all so good and we were like wolves. Everything from the plates was eradicated really fast and Boris and myself enjoyed some more beer. A well oiled engine is a healthy engine.

The best of Vagabundo - it was godlike

Then someone got a pretty logical idea that we should try the dessert. Who knew that it would end up being a pretty crazy idea? I was hoping for something more in the direction of chocolate but okay, how bad can an apple with oats pie be? It wasn’t really bad, I am just a man who likes to clean the whole plate so I have eaten lemon (including the peel), orange and some flowers which were actually meant to be a decoration. The whole thing was extra sweet (to give you power when you go uphill) but the oats were a little bit too much. I felt kinda like a pig who would eat anything. I would suggest you try it for yourself, if you are brave enough. I dare you to eat everything! Even the plate!

It was around 5 p.m. but our mountaineering day wasn’t over. We still needed to visit Zagradski peak which, like many other peaks, has the title of one of the most beautiful vistas in Croatia. There are around 3 kilometres from Vagabundo to Zagradski peak and at the small intersection we chose, of course, the harder path to the top. After all that solid and liquid food, I felt energized and blessed by the gods of the mountain – I was literally running. We were a little bit early for the sundown but the views were nevertheless breathtaking. I think I can speak for everyone in the group when I say we were tired and happy. This is why we do it. This is why we love mountains and hiking. Happy and in pain. The best feeling there is. We got three peaks under our boots and were finally heading towards Vagabundo to get some rest.

Suffering is only temporary...

...mountain glory is forever! Or at least until memories hold

Captured epicness

Some well deserved rest with a view...

...Woman and the Mountain. What are we doing? Eh, nothing really, just trying to convince you to START MOUNTAINEERING!

Zagradski peak crew - sweaty, kinda in pain, happy. Amazing day behind us!

Night intermezzo at Vagabundo

I asked for a separate big sleeping room for six of us. Some people don’t want to sleep with strangers, they like to keep it in the family. The beds are actually mattresses on the floor – a common thing among mountain huts. We also got our own bathroom (there are two in total) and except for the minimal space, I am satisfied. You should know that Vagabundo has better conditions than most of the mountaineering huts in Croatia. Be grateful for what you get, of course. I would just add that I don’t understand people who want to wander the mountains squeaky clean – you should be sweaty and probably smell a little bit, it is all normal and expected. Except for some stink grenade bombardments in the dark, nothing special to add about our night experience. Sorry to everyone if I was snoring, Ana has experience with it and took care of it.

Windy dance on „Two-hoes-and-a-bitch“ (or how the Slovenian almost became a dog slayer)

Vagabundo doesn’t have the breakfest option so we ate sandwiches from the backpacks. Not really a problem. At least we got a hot beverage and that is more than some people get. Eating and drinking from your backpack – I always found beauty in omnia mea mecum porto moments in mountaineering. Oftentimes I carry too much stuff in backpack but that made me realize how important it is to know how to make a selection of necessary things. Anyhow, no one will carry it for you. Everyone carries his or her own… backpack.

Somewhere in the forest of Tuhobić, a wild ManBearPig appears

It is around 35 minutes drive from Vagabundo’s hut to our planned starting point for our final ascend. We parked on the private property which is almost a part of the main road so I wasn’t worried for not finding our cars where we left ’em. It was Sunday and it was really windy. If someone decides to defend his private property in this conditions, then it is destiny (or just bad luck for us).

We don't have so much pictures from the ascend on Tuhobić because I guess we were in a hurry to finish it. Energy was still here but the wind was blowing and the clouds were threatening

Ascend on Tuhobić is a nice stroll through the forest which gradually goes higher, following a single hiking track. Stones emerge from the ground while the elvish greenery surrounds you. It is a classic Gorski kotar scenery. Actually, chosen path led us up on and over two more hillocks before we reached the peak of Tuhobić. To be honest, I felt some decrease in energy, probably from the previous day or maybe I just needed to warm-up a little bit. Girls were picking up huge amounts of bear’s garlic. Even Ana picked up some for us to make a vegetable cream soup with bear’s garlic. The weather was getting worse and wind scattered the clouds all around. Rain was coming but only tomorrow, 1st of May is not going to be a barbecue heaven. When we finally reached the peak, wind was blowing heavily so we didn’t stick around. Eat an energy bar or fruits, take a picture and descend.

Magnificient view also from Tuhobić. Blessing is received by those who search for it and take action. Never stop moving, that is the motto

Vida, the wind is so strong... fetch us the mountaneering stamp!

Sea is fine but always look at the continent also

Hiding from the wind. Eating in a hurry, taking some pictures and we better leave

Our adventure was still not over. For some, the adrenaline rush was only about to peak. Boris is convincingly the fastest from our bunch and, as always, he went ahead. We heard barking in front of us. A suspicious man with two dogs, a mother and a son, was standing near Boris. Belgian shepherd was still barking when we were passing by, the man was kinda shaken and surprised. Well, that doesn’t justify the dog’s assault on our brave Slovenian. In fact, I would bet that the dog would in the end regret the attack but this isn’t really the time to be joking. Boris already took out the knife and was ready to fight. The man with whom the dogs were said only that he is sorry and that those aren’t his dogs actually. Nicely played, stranger! Boris went unharmed, thanks to his thick mountaineering shorts. Please people, you are not alone in the forest, on the mountain. Keep your dogs on a leash!

Just for the record: the mobile phone lost it's focus before we did!

We were back at the car and soon we were driving back to Samobor. Yet again, we were royally welcomed at the Kezele palace. Vegetable soup, samosas, tomato sauce and fresh, homegrown salad. We shouldn’t forget the also homemade “kesten pire” which was delightful after the main course. It is hard to describe the food and we were so hungry that no one even thought about taking a photo of the food. I would even be brave enough to say that Vagabundo hasn’t got a chance against the Kezeles. Thank you Vlatka and Nenad!

And what about the whole thing, the whole weekend? I think that we once again managed to make great memories together. Great mountains, great food, good people. These are the things that are dear to me and my companions. We are not only ready for next adventure together. We are eager and ready to blaze through the mountain trails!


First day (29th of April): in total 19.88 km (Vagabundo->Strilež->Viševica->Vagabundo = 13.56 km + Vagabundo->Zagradski peak->Vagabundo = 6.32 km)

Second day (30th of April): in total 8.81 km (somewhere along the D3 road, before Gornje Jelenje forestry->Tuhobić->starting point)

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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