This was the big hike, 9 hours circuit round M Maglic in Sutjeska Park. The omens were not good because we woke up to thick mist in the park and then drove up to the starting point. As we set off there was no sign of the peak we were ascending. We walked for an hour or so through scrubby forest. Then we started to ascend and had a long climb up. This also involved doing hand to hand climbing over rocks and three pieces holding onto a wire cable. Joann and I were right at the end, both struggling. When we reached the point below the summit we were in thick fog, so we let the others go up for a peak view of cloud. I knew that I needed to conserve my energy for the next six hours walking and I wanted to avoid any further climbing.
We then descended across rock and grass, with beautiful clumps of alpine flowers . After an hour's descent we stopped for lunch and the mist cleared to reveal a stunning view of high mountains with stone valleys, patches of snow and a steep drop down to a green lake. It was magical to have this suddenly revealed. We then had a very difficult descent across the scree, first time for me using two sticks and not a good place to learn, I also felt cautious and ended up dropping right back to the end of the group with Sujan, the other guide. The descent seemed very, very long, endless jumping over stones. We rested by the lake which is used as a summer residence by locals staying there fishing and living off the land. We then walked up and had another long descent, this time through forest, and came out at a sunlit valley but also full of mosquitoes. We crossed and climbed slowly out for the ninth hour of the walk which ended with a 45 min ascent . We were rewarded with stunning views of the light breaking up through clouds onto other mountains. Shafts of light piercing the clouds and illuminated the rocks and trees. Then had a hour slow bus journey back to the park hotel, I really could have done without that long transfer.
We had supper in a local restaurant, again a disappointing veggie option, same veggies as the main course with three slices of cheese and a semolina cone.
This was the biggest walk many of us had done and people are saying it will be their benchmark walk. The other long one I have done is the Larig Ghru through the Cairngorms but that was easier without these technical sections.
Pleasant group of people to walk with, though we don't encourage each other much, all a bit too individualistic. The youngest is a Dutch doctor who lives in London and is about to start training as a haematologist. There are many retired people.
The weather here is very variable, but there had been a pattern even from Berlin. The morning is bright and warm, then the cloud builds up and there is a storm and the evening is then cleared.