I’m in Croatia, doing a solo section hike of the Via Dinarica.
The plan for this adventure emerged (as most adventures do) over the course of a series of conversations, daydreams, serendipitous inspiration moments and SO MANY Google searches.
But if I’m honest, it probably all started with me crying in a cafe.
It’s been hard to dream as big or as optimistically as usual recently. I believe dreams are worth fighting for but when the fight has left you (or your loved ones) exhausted, disappointed and battle-wounded again and again it can be hard to keep on dreaming, yet alone actually building those dreams. And yet, now as much as ever, I need vision and hope and faith. Don’t we all?
So I was crying in a cafe, with friends. They know me well these friends and after a few questions they knew – quite specifically – what I needed to do. “Walk,” one of them said to me, “walk a trail.”
So simple, but we scorn simple wisdom at our peril.
It started simply, it really did. I even did a day hike of the Pennine Way, squeezed in between teaching days and other commitments. The Pennine Way; day hikes. That was the plan.
A couple of months later, in another cafe, those same friends challenged me to take more seriously the need to rest, heal and recover those parts of myself that seem lost or buried at the moment. Nothing wrong with the Pennine Way but I wasn’t really, actually doing it.
By now other friends had joined the chorus so when they laid down a take-this-seriously challenge, I was somewhat receptive. “When’s the next time you can book a whole month off work and other commitments?” they asked, and I pulled out my diary to look.
There were a thousand obstacles of course. There always are. The first full month I could take off felt so far in the future at the time. There was no way Aaron could take a month off work. We didn’t have the money. Why should I, anyway? When would I restart looking for jobs? What would I do?
Aaron and I prayed and talked and listened.
Then slowly, piece by piece, we started dreaming and scheming and planning. And eventually we found our affordable, wild, outdoors, retreat-from-the-crowds, beautiful, physical adventure in a safe, hot, accessible country (or two. or seven): the Via Dinarica.
The rough plan: I’ve got about 12 days on my own in Croatia (? 8 days walking) section hiking a part of the Via Dinarica White Trail then Aaron is meeting me and we’re catching a bus to Bosnia to hike another section together (another ? 8 days walking). We then return to Croatia for five days in a fishing village on the beach to chill.
I have so so much to learn about section hiking. I’ve never done a thru-hike. I’ve never even done a multi-day section hike like this, carrying my food, water, and shelter with me. But you know what? We’re doing it – or trying to, at least – and I’m sure we’ll be glad we did.
That, my friends, is how I came to be writing to you from a mountain hut in Croatia.
I am going to try to blog along the way from my phone, sharing both my own experiences and what I’m learning so other total beginners can learn from my mistakes.
Having said that, I don’t think I’ll have much signal or electricity. The posts won’t be published live – and please forgive the inevitable blogging-from-phone errors.
If you’d like to follow along, any new posts relating to the Via Dinarica will be available at wyldeandfree.com/category/adventure/viadinarica
P.S. Please also note my blog auto-posts to Facebook but I will not personally be logging on to FB so won’t see any comments there till I get back.