It was supposed to be a lazy weekend but then we got a call from my dear friend Stanca. For some time now I knew that his girlfriend Carina and him are coming to visit Croatia for their Urlaub (eng. vacation) but little did we know they will be needing hiking guides for their staying here. Some plans changed and there opened a spot for me and KatAna to jump in. What should I say? Regarding hiking, I am trigger-happy.
Sunny days in Lika, at House Prica
A short remark about photos: almost all photos were taken by my companions (Carina, Stanca and KatAna) and I thank them for sharing it with me for the purposes of this travelogue.
After work on Friday we started our trip to Korenica. Our friends booked and were staying at B&B House Prica. The host and his wife are really great and easygoing people and the house (there are actually two houses) itself is clean and amazing. You know what? Sometimes we need to wait for food after the hike but now we got a royal meal before the hiking. So, let’s just get to it.
The hungry and thirsty vegetarian dragon’s book of praises and grudges no.1
Before leaving for our first goal of the day, first breakfast was in order. Our host prepared homemade cheese and also scrambled eggs (which are also from their chicken). Our meat-eating friends had also some salami and bacon. There were also homebaked croissants, filled and empty for us to choose. The rest was just regular breakfast stuff you get everywhere but for me, cheese and eggs made the difference. Oh, our host Mane gave us a taste of homemade rakija every morning. We give our hosts a praise and we will come again for sure.
Every morning was like this
Just a giant rock in the middle of Ličko polje
Many times when our family was going to the seaside, passing through the Ličko polje, at resting place Zir, I asked (and later heard many other ask) what is that giant rock in the middle, beside the Autobahn (eng. highway)? A couple of years ago when I got into „serious“ mountaineering, I heard of people going to this giant rock and that it is actually called Zir. It is a lonely hill right in the middle of Ličko polje, 850 metres high. When I saw where we are staying, I said to KatAna: „The Mountain God smiles upon us, Zir is our goal, not just a passing by point!“
The day before, Carina and Stanca were going to Zadar so they already saw Zir from the car. They were a little bit afraid and it is normal because Zir looks threatening from afar – his bare stone head is looking majestic. It is also a very popular climbing area but even hikers who prefer only to go on foot come here and enjoy the view.
Picking up happy friends
Hooman gives luv
The exit/entrance of highway is called Gornja Ploča and from there it is really easy to find first signposts leading you to the starting point for Zir. We parked the car on the off-road widening and started walking. It is a one hour hike to the top. Soon we met some four-legged friends, they started running towards and barked but soon they realized we are gentle souls, much like them. We were now a fellowship of eight!
They would follow you anywhere
The fellowship ascends
Very hoomanlike, yes
Photobomber level 75
I was kinda worried for them because there are some tricky parts and a ferrata at the end of the route. As always, dogs did it better than hoomans. Like on many other occasions, words fail to explain what you can feel at the mountain top, or in this case – on top of Zir.
The Phallus of Zeer
Tricky and shaky ferrata that needs maintenance
„Oh it looks dangerous. Can you fall down from there?“ – anonymous commentary
Dogs were taking a rest and we were having a snack – second breakfast and a beer with a view. Stanca lifted the drone and the pictures and videos are amazing. KatAna and myself are seriously thinking about buying one for ourselves because we always go to such cool places. The pictures and videos could be amazing and help popularize beautiful places in Croatia even more.
Note to viewers: sorry for the “new age” kinda shitty music in the short videos. They were made on a mobile phone and it took almost 2 minutes. Thank you DJI for super-friendly software but also we would need better music. Thanks to Stanca for editing, of course. The original videos are saved and secured. They will be used maybe later when I will have more time to learn more about video editing.
Amazing pics of Zir from above
Zir in his whole amazingness
A toast to Zeer
Happy friends at the top
What would we do without dogs, our best friends?
Ličko polje on the palm of our hands
Sum moar beer and drone fun
Even the dawgs need some rest
Before falling asleep, the wise black dog of Zeer told me we should be good and gentle to every creature as we are good and gentle to them
We managed to get down, even with stones being wet and ferrata being kinda shaky – it would be good to do some maintenance on it. Dogs followed us bravely like always and it was really heartbreaking when we had to get in the car and leave them behind. KatAna gave them one of our sandwiches and got quickly in the car. We left but we don’t worry too much because the dog crew has their owners and they will be fine. Until next time, little ones!
Familiar places and new discoveries in Paklenica
Zir was our wish and it was now fulfilled. We were trying to find a place in Croatia where it wasn’t raining (the forecast for the northern parts of Croatia was a catastrophe) and it also wouldn’t be too far to drive. National Park Paklenica was ideal for us and our friends because it isn’t too tiring in the hiking sense and still you get to see a lot of beauty. I also managed to bore them to death with my glorification of a place called Tulove grede which can be seen just above, when passing St. Rok tunnel. They heard so much about it, I think they will visit the place next time they come to Croatia – as it should be. Canyon of (Velika) Paklenica offers most to the climbers but even the hikers or casual walkers can find much enjoyment there.
Paklenica is enriched with many little waterfalls and the sound of falling water, which is soothing for the body and the soul
And all the amazing rocks of many kuks (eng. hips) of Paklenica
There are around 8 kilometres from the main entrance of the park to the Paklenica mountain lodge. Some feeling of tiredness was there but our friends were holding up well. I suppose it is easier when you know the route and no matter the path being beautiful, everyone wanted to take a little bit of rest, drink and eat something. The sound of water was soothing. We were a little bit disapointed when the caretaker of the lodge told us there is no more bean stew. The caretaker also told us about hamlets Parići and Ramići. Well, that is a beginning of another story.
Canyon of Velika Paklenica is just amazing
It was hot but as we approached the wall of Velebit, how I call it, the mountain air started to cool us. We were all real cool. Paklenica is cool!
Guardians of „the holy sky“ and the old ways
All four of us looked kinda like tomatoes and some of us, like always, like potatoes. Maybe I will also look like a dumb-dumb but I don’t remember I was at Parići before. There is a misty memory of it and I think maybe I was here but it looked like someones house and it was closed (?). Now I know for sure that it looks like a house because it is a house and home to family Parić. Or at least to mr. Parić who stays here the whole year. Okay, yes, we often idealize people who live in deserted places, being always in contact with nature and such. Nevertheless, we should admit that few of us would be capable of living this way. Some of us would die because we are not capable of merely surviving and do alone all the things necessary. Some would probably die without company of other human beings and today, and in future, some of us will die because we can’t live without technology – phones, computers and other gadgets which keep us entertained and alive.
Parići sure look like someones house. The views are amazing
„Here I listen to the chirping of birds, watch these beautiful rocks and watch this holy sky. What more do I need? Surely not the evil civilization and its wrong ways.“ – mr. Parić
Imagine waking up to this view every morning
I have seen some signs of dangerous right-wing politics and opinions but you know what? If you ask what dangerous signs – the (eary) U sign at the front fence and tenth of April as a date when the hut was established. Who knows history of Croatia will know what I’m talking about. Who cares about it if it’s in the mountains, deep in the forest? A man can live as man wants as long as he/she doesn’t endanger others, as long as he/she doesn’t limit freedom of others. Also, I don’t see a lot of contradiction in living in the mountains alone and being an extreme right-winger. Those people value and cherish their freedom and their property. And, again, they are far away from others so no harm is done. Anyway, who knows how we all would act and what would we think if we were to live alone in the forest, on a hill? There is no police here. There is no one to help you if the situation thickens. Maybe holding your own and maintaining clear lines in the sand is only the natural response.
The holy sky over the canyon of Velika Paklenica
Human affairs aside, the place is beautiful. Mr. Parić does all the work alone – he has a garden, he grows his own vegetables, has two donkeys who help him carry the material and necessities uphill. He says that he is never bored and doesn’t understand people who are bored. Boredom is a plague of the modern man who lives in the civilization.
The hungry and thirsty vegetarian dragon’s book of praises and grudges no.2
When you hike a lot, then you must eat a lot. Only we haven’t eaten so much, even with having second breakfast (more of a snack) on top of Zir. Have in mind that mr. Parić doesn’t serve food for vegetarians nor vegans. Bean stew is with pancetta and with sausage, all homemade, of course.
„If you don’t like it, you can remove the pieces of meat out of the stew.“
The only problem is the stew was full of meat. KatAna, being a vegetarian for a couple of years now, ate some of the meat. Being a vegetarian my whole life, someone would consider it weird that I have eaten everything on the plate, but this is not the first (and probably not the last) time I have eaten meat. I have become some kind of a flexitarian and I consider it as going really well with „be like water“ philosophy. We will have a discussion about it some other time.
The real Statehood Day
Also we realized that Carina, as a German, doesn’t like bean stew – or any stew actually. I’m still trying to figure what a classical german cuisine is but it seems they don’t eat as much soup as we Croats do. As I have said, bean stew was rich and heavy, meaning afterwards you won’t be hungry for a long time. Eight euros for a portion is kinda expensive but considering the location, it is only fair. But what is with the vegetarians and vegans? What if I told you that the harsher and more unforgiving the environment, the harder it is to meet our high* demands? Evil civilization, right?
The silly hunting dog named Aron
After some rest and enjoying the scenery, we decided we must go because the the day is coming to its end. We didn’t visit Ramići because some weird human noises could be heard from there and we appreciate the silence and calm. It is true: we were tired and just wanted to come to our car and leave for Korenica. We were all in a good condition but we were the whole day in the mountains and on the road so it was enough for today.
Way back to the entrance of the NP Paklenica
The surprise was waiting for us at Paklenica mountain lodge. The caretaker asked if we could lead this stray hunting dog to the entrance of the national park. His name was Aron and he immediately became a part of the crew. He kinda smelled and was really goofy. I suppose every young hunting dog is like that but he was sniffing a lot and wandered here and there. Aron had a dog tag so we weren’t worried he’ll stay lost. Some other mountaineers also helped to bring him to the gate and they said they think they know who the owner is. Yes, the question was: who leaves his dog like that?
Aron was mostly following us. In one moment he showed signs of extreme alertness and ran off into the forest, towards Manita cave, barking all the way. We were trying to call him but to no avail. After some time, he rejoined the party. A hunting dog be a hunting dog.
We got to our car which was a couple hundred metres from the main entrance. So we decided we will drive Aron with us. This was the first dog who was driven in my new car. I am glad, really, I am.
Aron enjoying a drive massage
At the main gate, we called the owner again and he came to pick up Aron. He was not so much worried about Aron which made us more worried. It seems it’s normal for his dog to wander off like that. We said goodbye to Aron and were on our way to Korenica. This was an amazing day and I am grateful to our friends for inviting us.
Greetings from the Magical Tomatoes and Potatoes crew. Visit Zir and Paklenica, you won't regret it!
Kik (village just under Zir and home to our four-legged friends) -> Zir -> Kik = 4.5 km
Main entrance to NP Paklenica -> Parići -> main entrance = 17.23 km
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.