Day 16 - A story of Cobblestones and Thunderstorms

Saturday 12th July 2014

It's time to leave the haven that is Gasthof Hochalmspitze. Farewell Ros, farewell John. See you on our return in August. Friends of GH may note that I have made no mention of Wilf the carrot-topped cynic or indeed the lovely Naomi. Thanks for all the fish guys.

There is no rush as we are not going very far. We pack and set sail at 11:30 heading for Slovenia. Our route takes us around the Millstätter See (thanks for the tip John, lovely road) and back over the Würzenpaß again.
It's the weekend so the boy racers are out in force. We stop in the ski resort of Kranjska Gora for coffee then start the climb up to the Vrsic Pass.

Joining the boy racers - coffee stop in Kranjska Gora

This spectacular pass is one of my favourites. The north and south inclines could not be more different. There are 48 hairpins and those on the north face are cobblestones. I was caught in a heavy snowstorm here around 8 years ago and was forced to turn back near the top and make a precarious run back down. The 10 minute descent in normal circumstances took nearly two hours over the cobblestones in 4 inches of snow, with feet down pretty much all of the way.
The Russian Chapel on the north slopes

Today the weather is dry. We stop at the little wooden chapel half way up the north side. It was built by Russian prisoners of war in 1917 and, commemorates the deaths of more than a hundred of their colleagues and some Austrian guards in an avalanche in March 1916. 

Two Russian POWs

On up to the summit for pasta and goulash at the small auberge there. The views are magnificent.

Next the swooping ride down the Soca Valley. This is a wonderful road with tight hairpins from the summit and then fast, sweeping curves as we follow the turquoise River Soca south into Slovenia.

Pasta and goulash at the Vrsic summit

At Bovec the dark clouds are gathering and there is thunder in the air. We fly on down the valley but are caught by yet another major downpour just a few miles from our destination, Kamp Koren at Kobarid.

We check in, thoroughly drenched, and take shelter in the bar. Two hours later there is no sign of the rain relenting so for the first time this tour we have to set up our tents in the rain. There is an art to this and we are not very practiced in it. 

The Soca river - bright turquoise

But eventually the task is complete and after a pivo or three we get our heads down surrounded by soggy riding gear and with the pitter-patter of tiny raindrops as a lullaby. 



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