Mala Ojstrica, Lake Bled – to hike or not?

with 18 Comments

I looked at what lay beneath my shoes and noticed pebbles and rocks in various shapes and sizes. Sharp and slippery, they were almost misleading. Pockets of damp red soil awaited us on our path every few steps ahead. The slope was steep and unmarked for the stretch that we were on. This is going to be interesting, I thought.

We are in Lake Bled, a forty minute drive from Slovenia’s capital, Ljubljana. What’s unique about the lake is not that it is crystal clear or warm enough to swim in September but, it has a small island with a bell tower church sitting on it. History suggests that the island has been witness to settlements as early as 8th century. As an eager traveler, deciding between pursuing history versus staring at those views can be difficult. There are many things to do in, on and around the lake. Paddle boarding, swimming, boating, kayaking, walking, or sitting by the shore. But we had to pick a hike – for better or for worse, up on a mountain to see the lake.

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A straightforward start

The Mala Osojnica hill lies on the west shore of Lake Bled. It provides an uninterrupted view of the lake, the island and the Karavanke mountains in the background. Accessible by a 40-45 minute hike, it is said to be an easy trail to hike on. Bharat was excited. I tried to convince myself that a short hike is worth the view and that the return journey is usually the easier leg.

But here we are, on this trail surrounded only by trees for company. It was rocky and steeper than we imagined. On Bharat’s suggestion, I walk in front. I have a tendency of looking down when I walk, and today I’m glad for that. We cross paths with an older couple returning from their hike. The lady had a long stick that I presumed was helpful in such conditions. They attempt to talk to us in a foreign language. Then they switch to actions and words. I distinctly decipher the word ‘ambulance’ and their actions suggest that the slope is slippery. We walk slowly, equip ourselves with a fallen branch and soon find a small crowd on the next leg of the trail. An injured woman was being assisted on a stretcher by a team of helpers.

From then on, the trail got trickier. Our caution is overtaken by confusion and a hint of unspoken fear.

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Sharp curves and serene sights

I’m out of breath. We keep walking but are unsure of the direction. Bharat suggests we take another abandoned trail in the hopes that it would be the right one. The path on this trail is laden with small rocks too, and slopes upward in the same manner as the mountains I drew as a kid. We stop mid-way and attempt to verify our path through Google Maps. It doesn’t help. We turn back to our previous trail hoping to meet other people.

Suddenly, we hear voices and wait. Another couple walks down an uneven mountain path with unenviable ease. They are returning from a trail that offers a similar view of Lake Bled. The four of us were standing at the base of two trails. In a split second decision, we decide to take the mountainous trail that the couple just visited. Mala Ojstrica, the trail we pursue, seems shorter (yay!) but has several sharp curves and larger stones. This time, we also have branches and tree trunks to grab on for support. It is scarier, but we know we are closer. I dare not look down.

I’m wondering if I should mutter prayers, in my head. Bharat curses his shoes – he had picked a pair of relaxed sneakers over his sturdier ones.

We continue our ascent. Looking up, I notice we’ve reached the summit. We see a bench under a tree and the Karavanke mountains rising like a ring in a distance. The lake with its sparkling water looked like an artist’s canvas. The best way to describe the sight is by letting our pictures do the talking.

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Owning this view for a while :)
Owning this view for a while 🙂

The return journey

Knowing how steep and tricky the terrain was, we almost avoid the hike back. We begin slow and steady, grabbing chunks of rocks that were jutting out on the edges of the mountain. Until I spot a narrow path that seemed like a shortcut. I convince Bharat and we take steps forward on this new found section of the slope. But again, it was steeper than we imagined and we realized that we may have to sit and slide down, inch by inch. He goes first. Almost slides. Stops. Grabs the tiniest rocks sticking out of the ground and slides down . I’m scared to sit, but I knew I’d risk slipping if I walk or run the entire way down. I crouch on all fours, push myself ahead and catch a giant tree trunk nearby. I sit on my butt, descend slowly and also pray that I don’t rip my shorts. For once, I wondered how I managed to talk both Bharat and myself into taking this shortcut! He makes the home run and I think to myself – ‘I can do this!’ Towards the end, I got up and walked down. Victory.

Once back on the main trail, we found our confidence returning. We made it to the lakeside in no time and spent the hour relaxing by the lake. Would I do this again? With hesitation. But in order to admire nature’s panorama from an undisturbed vantage point like this one? Definitely.

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Good to know

  • The trail to reach both Mala Ojstrica and Mala Osojnica hills starts from the same base. On crossing the first leg of the trail, keep a lookout for a signboard on your right. Hikers might miss the sign as it is at the start of the ascend to the Mala Ojstrica hill in a corner. From this sign, there is a further trail towards the left that leads to Mala Osojnica.
  • We met a hiker who who returned from the Mala Osojnica hill and mentioned that it offers the same view as the Mala Ojstrica except, the former has covered railings and the latter provides a closer and more unobstrusive view. In effect, the Mala Osojnica hill is further behind and possibly offers a broader view but the fact that the Mala Ojstrica summit is not covered makes the viewing experience better.
  • Make sure you carry a backpack with a bottle of water and something to snack on.
  • Wear sturdy shoes
  • Be very careful with an SLR especially while hiking up
  • Keep an emergency contact information on your phone. There are sections of the trail where there is minimal / no network
  • A round trip of this trail would take anything between 1.5-2 hours depending on speed, amount of time spent on the summit.

As a last treat..

Head to the cafe in Park Hotel, right next to the Tourist Information Center and try the original Bled cream cake. They’ve been using the same closely guarded recipe since the 1950’s! The wait for a table or the crowds will not deter the experience of tasting this culinary masterpiece.

 

A photo posted by Fun Travelog (@funtravelog) on

 

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Supriya
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As a kid, Supriya had to be brought back to reality from her daydreaming excursions. A digital marketer by profession, she enjoys reading, writing and photography. Her wanderlust list changes each week, but she's strongly eyeing countries in South America and the Middle East as destinations for her journeys :)

18 Responses

  1. Avatar
    Mikatu
    | Reply

    Ah ah… that Situation happened to me just months ago when I did the same as you guys.
    I read online that the views were great and no one mentioned anything about being dificult.
    Well, I went to the first one and managed to get to the top (but there were already 3 persons there so no way to sit for a while, I had to rest for 3 minutes in a rock and then head back).
    The worst part is indeed the descent…. gosh, I grab every rock and branch I could find. I’m glad no one was there going up or down because I moved very slowly….

    Then I decided it was too risky to even try the other one further uphill. Maybe it was easier, but I got so scared that decided to just go back to the lake and grab a nice cold water…. The views were amazing and now that some time went by I would have done it again, but with walking poles and water and more time 🙂

    • Supriya
      Supriya
      | Reply

      Thanks for stopping by Mikatu! You’re right- there isn’t much ‘official’ information about these two hiking trails or not that we found about, hence we thought this should be our first blog after get back to Boston 🙂 . Guess the charm lies in such not-so-famous trails which leads to majestic views. When we look back at how we descended, we laugh and thank our lucky stars that we did not damage anything. Walking poles would have been definitely handy here!

      We enjoyed the unobstructed views which Ojstrica gave us and that is why we did not bother (also due to lack of time) to hike the second Mala.

      Bharat had almost made up his mind to jump in the waters post the hike if he was carrying his swim pants along with him..lol

  2. Avatar
    Albert Nesmith
    | Reply

    The view looks amazing. It seems like the hard hike was worth it..
    Albert Nesmith recently posted…The 2 2 2 2 Method + Upper Limit Fat LossMy Profile

    • Supriya
      Supriya
      | Reply

      Thanks Albert. It totally was. 🙂

  3. Avatar
    Els
    | Reply

    I visited Lake Bled a few years ago and wish I had done that hike, wow! I only walked around the lake, which was nice, but definitely didn’t offer stunning views like that one!
    Els recently posted…Everything you need to know about working in a hostelMy Profile

    • Supriya
      Supriya
      | Reply

      After managing that hike, I wish everyone goes for a hike up this hill! We walked for sometime after hiking but definitely loved sitting and dipping our feet in the water 🙂

  4. Avatar
    shere
    | Reply

    I think I’m like you!! I would have convinced my husband to take the shortcut and think to myself “what the hell I was thinking!!” 😛
    shere recently posted…The funnest playgrounds in and around Alde FeanenMy Profile

    • Supriya
      Supriya
      | Reply

      Haha! We’re one of a kind then! Although, I most certainly hope you don’t convince your hubby for such shortcuts with the baby along 😀

      • Avatar
        shere
        | Reply

        well, I convinced him to climb to Preikestolen (8km, 4hours) on a not so sunny day. He carrying our toddler and I carrying our baby 😛
        shere recently posted…Vlog: Preikestolen with baby and toddlerMy Profile

        • Supriya
          Supriya
          | Reply

          Whoa 😀 I am yet to get to that stage in life but I sure hope if and when I do, I’ll surely take a cue from you 😉

  5. Avatar
    Shiloh
    | Reply

    You are a fantastic writer. I felt like I was there along with you guys. I am an avid hiker here in Southern California and I know those feelings of doubt and frustration, but man it is always worth it, isn’t it? Great photography as well.
    Shiloh recently posted…Andersen Boutique Hotel: CopenhagenMy Profile

    • Supriya
      Supriya
      | Reply

      Always, always worth it 🙂 Thank you for your wonderful comment Shiloh. I actually wrote this after the hike at night before sleeping – I literally had to get it out of my system 😀

  6. Avatar
    Lara Dunning
    | Reply

    What a view! But, that hike sounds a little tricky and something you’d definitely want to be prepared for. As someone who regularly hikes I find it frustrating when the trails are not marked. Would love to go here one day.
    Lara Dunning recently posted…Loonshine, Nature Trails and Jesse James on the Minne-Roadtrip to Northfield, MNMy Profile

    • Supriya
      Supriya
      | Reply

      Yes, the trail was tricky but I’m so glad we stuck around. I hope you get a chance to visit Lake Bled sometime Lara – the views really were fabulous! 🙂

  7. Avatar
    Sara Broers
    | Reply

    Ah.. an unmarked trail here and there, it can sure make a hiking experience interesting. Looks like a wonderful place to hike and you were able to make your hike into a great adventure!
    Sara Broers recently posted…Norm’s News Offers A Tasty Burger & More In Kalispell, MontanaMy Profile

    • Supriya
      Supriya
      | Reply

      Oh yes Sara – I’m certainly going to remember this hike the next time I’m on an unmarked trail 🙂 Thanks for dropping by!

  8. Avatar
    Sonali Chauhan
    | Reply

    Hi Supriya Thanks for sharing about Lake Bled, It looks really wonderful. There is such awesome beautiful of Nature. I hope I would also visit at Lake Bled.

    • Supriya
      Supriya
      | Reply

      I hope you get to visit Lake Bled real soon Sonali, also take time out to explore more of Slovenia. It is absolutely charming!

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