The jagged sun hovered over our heads right in the morning. About thirty nature lovers headed from Potravlje, a small village in the Cetina region (Sinj, Croatia), to the ‘Orlove Stine’ mountain lodge. They would hike for no particular reason, they said, but the International Women’s Day should have been celebrated in a special way – in the nature
“Great things are born when man and mountain meet”, says the famous English writer William Blake, and I will start with just one thought: if only the mountains recognize me. After a long break, I finally pulled on my boots, “sharpened” my sticks and prepared my backpack as if I were going on a five-day trip, not a few hours hike. The last calendar days of winter season, the first March bura (cold northern wind), latest world events and everyday life have to be shoved into one of the pockets, the patent should be tightly closed and released only somewhere at the mountain peak.
Every year, theMountaineering Association ‘Svilaja’ from the town of Sinj prepares a treat for a nature lovers and socializing on the occasion of the International Women’s Day. That is the reason why the traditional (female) ascent to the Svilaja Mountain viewpoint ‘Orlove stine’(1139 m) and the mountain lodge of the same name, is something that you should not miss. This year’s ascent was special because for the first time we passed through the new, seven kilometres long, marked path that will be included in the first Croatian long-distance trail ‘Via Adriatica’.
Mostly women, with the company and support of several men, we set off from Potravlje village on a macadam road all the way to the last houses in the hamlets of Glavinići and Cvitkovići, and then towards Drage saddle. The foothills of mountain Svilaja are intertwined with numerous roads and paths that the local population once used for a cattle grazing. Furthermore, the village of Potravlje itself is known for its traditional pottery and the 14th century medieval Potravnik fortress (also known as Bićin grad). Leaving the village behind, we passed through a rocky and dotted meadows that have already been heavily eroded by the winter.
An hour later, we arrived at the beginning of a trail that immediately grows on my heart; simple, light and tame, so the legs themselves grab forward following the excellent visible marking signs. Soon, the artificial lake Peruća peeks into the frame while the ‘Orlove Stine’ are winding a little above us, and the Svilaja Mountain proudly rises in the background of the photography. Although scanty and seemingly dull colours, they bring the unusual peace. On the other side of the Peruća lake one can see the gorgeous Dinara Mountain dressed into a snow coat. “It is so beautiful!” each of us said, at least once. In the mountain lodge we were greeted by smiling and cheerful hosts and with a rich lunch. A good food was accompanied by a good drop of homemade wine and a joyful song that cheered us up.
After the break, about twenty minutes’ walk on the hot rocks and we have finally arrived. Even though we are already “domestic”here, the feeling of respect and admiration never passes. Every part of this beautiful, God-given nature invites you to encounter it. The arms open on their own, spread towards the sky, the lake and the stone and hug… oh, how they have hug this special moment! Somewhere under the ribs, the old familiar embers are creeping in, as soon as they burst into flame I could hear Svilaja Mountain whispered to me: “Welcome home, little girl”.
That day, in the close contact with the mountain, one more mountaineering story was born, richer in experiences, a new photo album, an obligatory chats, a new acquaintances and the old friendships. And the new Svilaja hiking trail woven into the ‘Via Adriatica’ has nothing left but to embrace and sign under the most beautiful statement: Paths are people.
In addition, the Mountaineering Association ‘Svilaja’ is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, so this hike was a great overture to the new encounters with the beautiful mountain Svilaja and future birthday surprises.
I can hardly wait!