In June of 2004 I traveled to Montenegro, one of the countries of the former Yugoslavia. I had seen some intriguing photos of the mountains there, so I was excited to check out this relatively unknown destination. After a long bus ride I finally made it to the town of Žabljak, at the base of Durmitor National Park.
Rainy Days in Durmitor
When I arrived in early June, it must have been the off season because it seemed like hardly anybody was around. With no information to be found at the bus stop, I started wandering down the road looking for a place to stay. Within a short time an army guy walked up and started talking with me; eventually he asked where I was staying. I said I didn't know, and he pointed to the big hotel in the center of town. I said I probably couldn't afford that and was looking for something cheaper, so he took me door to door through the neighborhood asking people if they had a room to rent! Someone pointed us to another house, and sure enough I scored an entire two-bedroom flat with kitchen and living room for 10 euro a night! All thanks to this friendly army dude.
It's a good thing I found this nice apartment to stay at, because it poured rain almost nonstop for the next six days! With little hiking possibilities and nothing at all to do in town, I pretty much spent every day reading the Dune trilogy - I was so lucky to have those books! The highlight of every day was in the evenings, those army guys would stop by and grab me to go have dinner in the one restaurant that was open in town, or go to one of the local bars for beers. Turns out they were in the Serbian army and were doing alpine training in the mountains here.
Eventually to stave off cabin fever one day I went on a long walk to the Churevac viewpoint over the Tara Canyon -- the deepest canyon in Europe. It was an awesome sight, despite the rain!
On another day when the rain let up a little bit I hiked up Savin Kuk, which is above a small ski resort near town.
The Durmitor mountains (and most mountains in Montenegro, for that matter) are limestone and very porous, so there's few flowing streams. The lakes fill up early in the spring and summer, and by the end of summer they slowly drain through fissures in the bedrock below the lake. In this rainy June the lakes were plump full.
Finally the weather looked promising enough for me to attempt to hike up Bobotov Kuk, the highest peak in the range.
On the way up I descended into the Ledina Pecina cave where there were large ice stalagmites at the bottom.
Above treeline there was still quite a spring snowpack, but I pushed forward and eventually make it to the summit of Bobotov Kuk!
That evening when I was back in Žabljak, my army buddies came by as usual and I told them that I summited Bobotov Kuk that day. They said no, no, there's too much snow, you can't do it. I said, no, I just DID it! With our communication barrier they didn't understand and kept insisting that it's not possible. So I pulled out my camera and showed them the pictures of me on top! Well, they were impressed! We celebrated with many beers that night!
So, despite all the rainy days and snowy mountains I had a great time after all in Žabljak and Durmitor!