Saša leading up the ridge.

Trekking from Češka Koča to Ledine in the Kamnik-Savinja Alps

On a Wednesday morning, a bit after 8 AM, we waited parked in front of Jani’s house in Predoslje. He came out of the house ready with a backpack on his shoulder and hiking boots in his hands. We took off toward to our day of adventure in Jezersko.

Robby and I weren’t sure what we were in for. I thought – how hard can a short, steep hike to reach the mountain hut Češka koča be? Well, this expedition would turn out to be more than what we bargained for.

After passing the Jezersko lake, we turned onto a dirt road that took us deep into the woods. In general, Slovenian hiking trailheads are nicely marked, with decent parking, and a large poster trail map at its post. From the trailhead at Spodnje Ravni we had access to the giants in the Kamniško Savinjske Alpe mountain region.

Our adventure started on rocky terrain, similar to any dirt road that could be easily accessed via motorized vehicles. As we hiked along, Jani tells us a story about this road. It used to be the official trailhead leading into the mountains above until a large landslide filled the valley full with rock debris. Jani said his brother was hiking there that day, and was lucky to return to the car just before the mass rushing down the mountain covered the ground in a rocky veil.

After we passed a small freight gondola stop that supplies the two lodges (Češka koča and Kranjska koča na Ledinah) with beverages and food, the trail turned upward. Zig zagging our way up, we saw many interesting man-made stairs, benches, and signs. At one of our brief stops midway, we saw felled forest and utility ways to access the cut lumber. We continued on, steaming with heat like a walking humidifier. The side of the hill was covered in mysterious fog – what a day to be alive. At another short break, we share the difference in hiking conditions from Slovenia to Idaho. We discussed how the warm, moist mountainous air is easy to inhale, but makes you feel much warmer in comparison to dry, often dusty air in the high dessert of Idaho.

The trail took us to our first ledge passing. Some passages had ferrata for easier grip on the rocky uphill. Finally, after an hour of steep hiking, the trail turned flat. Misty clouds passed us like the wind, shaping and molding, covering and revealing portions of the mountainous scenery before our eyes. We thought we had arrived to a very high point, but standing at 1543 meters above sea level, glimpsing at the peaks surrounding us, made us humbly aware of how unruly the nature truly is.

Češka koča hut in the morning fog.
The Češka koča hut in the morning fog.
While only at 1545m of elevation, the hut lays is in rugged, alpine terrain.
While only at 1545m of elevation, the hut lays is in rugged, alpine terrain.

In the midst of fog, a lodge revealed in front of our eyes. We stoped for a well deserved tea at Češka koča after an intense steep terrain, and a strong pace of an hour and two minutes to the top. A group of people already at the lodge were asking the administrator about the path to Ledine. The hut housekeeper stated that in no way they should attempt to cross through what is called – the throat (or what I call the jaws). It is not advised to climb the throat without mountaineering gear, especially outside of the peak season, which September falls in.

As we are sitting there listening to the conversation, Jani says: “We should try going to Ledine, too.” Robby and I thought we only came to Češka koča, but if you have ever read any of our past stories, we tend to switch things up a bit in a moment’s notice. For example, when Robby at Alice Lake suggested “since we’ve already completed four miles, going another four miles back, would be just the same than if we do ten miles around, and shoot for the loop,” thus came the Alice Toxaway Loop adventure. So, convincing Robby was the easy thing to do, I decided to tag along. We were ready to make a day out of it.

Before we headed back on trail, I purchased a hiking booklet and collected my first stamp at Češka koča 1545m. We continued our path the way we were told – to avoid the throat. After hiking for about five minutes, we came to a steep wall covered in clouds. The only thing to step on from there was a little ledge carved into the rock wall and a feratta to hold. We looked at each other, and asked Jani, if we’d missed a turn and somehow ended at the throat. We turned back to the lodge and asked the administrator if we somehow got lost. She said we were on the right track, to continue on the path, you have to climb the wall, and from there we will have a well marked trail to follow.

Clouds building their narrative around the peak of Velika Baba.
Clouds building their narrative around the peak of Velika Baba.

Alright, we’re headed back to the wall for the second time around.

After beating the initial rock climb, we made it to the trail that took us on a well marked path to Slovenska pot that avoids the throat.

Following the sign to avoid the "throat" - or better yet "jaws."
Following the sign to avoid the “throat” – or better yet “jaws.”
Up and down to Slovenska pot na Ledine.
Up and down to Slovenska pot na Ledine.

We continued winding down a bit, and again up a bit, and finally come to an abrupt end of trail. I waited for Robby and Jani to join and confused asked, where can we go from here? The only way possible was – up. And so the fun begin.

Hanging on to the Feretta.
Hanging on to the Feretta.
And up it was.
And up it was.
Jani enjoying the view to the top.
Jani enjoying the view to the top.
The last ledge to climb before the trail turns horizontal again.
The last ledge to climb before the trail turns horizontal again.
Jani conquering the ledge.
Jani conquering the ledge.
Looking down at the throat route.
Looking down at the throat route.
Helpful stairs.
Helpful stairs.

Back on the horizontal trail, we absorbed the beautiful view of the valley below. We were moments away from reaching the koča (hut) na Ledinah at 1700m of elevation.

The same group from Češka koča awaited us at the top. They were a group of senior citizens who belong to a hiking club visiting from northern Gorenjska region. We chatted about the rough climb, but ultimately their agility made me take a hard look at myself. We were all happy to enjoy this amazing experience and view.

Another lodge, another stamp. Here my booklet recorded another memory.
Another lodge, another stamp. Here my booklet recorded another memory.
Slovenian picnic table.
Slovenian picnic table.

After a well deserved lunch and a nice conversation it was time to explore some more.

To the Glacier

From Ledine lodge, we had one more stop in mind, the glacier.

Since we were on a roll that day, with amazing views and hiking time, we decided to step a couple more vertical meters and absorb the beauty of an old glacier. The glacier is also reflected in the name of the mountain – ledenik (glacier) and Ledine.

Well-marked trails, as usual.
Well-marked trails, as usual.
As we neared the glacier, we quickly became shrouded in fog again.
As we neared the glacier, we quickly became shrouded in fog again.

Fog was rolling down the steep mountain, and air was noticeably cooler, which explained the conditions that retain snow year-round. Jani said that hunters, back in the day, had ski competition on the glacier in the middle of the summer. Sadly now, the patch of snow was too small to host such fun summer activities.

Jani and Saša take in the fact they are standing on snow - in September.
Jani and Saša take in the fact they are standing on snow – in September.
We decided to make our down as we had a break in the fog.
We decided to make our down as we had a break in the fog.
It's magical being in the fog - one moment you are part of a cloud, and the next you're part of stunning sunlight.
It’s magical being in the fog – one moment you are part of a cloud, and the next you’re part of stunning sunlight.
Rolling waves.
Rolling waves.

Standing in the bowl of the mountain, we noticed an Alpine goat grazing on one of many green peak tops.

This amazing exploration of Slovenian beauty was on pointing back to the valley. We took in last views and got ready to head down.

With views like this so close to home, who wouldn't want to live here?
With views like this so close to home, who wouldn’t want to live here?
Jani making his way from the glacier.
Jani making his way from the glacier.
Saša leading, as per usual.
Saša leading, as per usual.
With the fog gone, we were able to see the previous two huts we visited and our path.
With the fog gone, we were able to see the previous two huts we visited and our path.
Trail alligator.
Trail alligator.
Beginning our return to the valley via the hunter's trail.
Beginning our return to the valley via the hunter’s trail.
Like much of Slovenia, the valley of Jezersko stays green all summer.
Like much of Slovenia, the valley of Jezersko stays green all summer.
The clouds never fully retreated, but provided a beautiful afternoon.
The clouds never fully retreated, but provided a beautiful afternoon.
Filtered light shining onto the lone house in this valley.
Filtered light shining onto the lone house in this valley.