Libinje - Vlaški Grad - Sveto Brdo - Dušice

Velebit Travel Blog

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I thought I'd be done with this blog after mountaineering school ended, but decided to keep it up and record my next hiking trips into this wonderful mountain. I figure, there should be many hikers and mountain lovers here on TravBuddy, and that some day their path might lead them to Velebit mountain in Croatia. This blog is for you, dear fellow mountaineers, to give you a glimpse into what you can expect. Nevertheless, be aware that I am just an amateur with a great love for hiking, and that for all important information you should check with experienced guides and the "Velebit" National Park staff. 

Today I will tell you about a traditional hike, organized annually by the mountaineering club "Paklenica", Zadar.

our goal
Every summer on a full moon night we hike to Sveto Brdo (Holy Hill). This year it was the night from the 13th to 14th of August. It was the hottest time of year, and while I was waiting for my ride, I thought to myself what the heck I was doing going hiking instead of lazying away on the beach. It's the mountain-bug, I guess...

We started off in the late afternoon. Five or six cars, carrying about 20 hikers to an area named Libinje. We took the coastal highway northbound (to Rijeka), and in the small village of Modrič turned onto a narrow asphalted road up the hill (right at the sharp left bend). We drove about half an hour or more on a dirt road, which I would recommend for SUVs only. We stopped at an opening with bee hives where we parked our cars, then walked on another dirt road another 15 minutes.

And there it was, Libinje. It's a vast grassy plain surrounded by high hills, Sveto Brdo being the highest one with 1751 m/asl. What makes Libinje wonderful are the wild horses. More than two dozen horses where standing there, peacefully grazeing and looking at us curiously as we approached. We had to go right amongst them to pass! In the past, Libinje used to be a fairground, with people coming from the Lika, the northern side of the mountain, and from Dalmatia, the southern side of the mountain. They'd trade with cattle, and home made food and drinks, and it was a good way to get together. These people travelled on foot and had to carry all things along on their backs. One interesting fact is, that everyone was required to bring a sack of stone or sand which would be spilled out on the mountain path to fix it and keep it in tact.
They were the roadmen of the time. 

We continued over the plain and reached a spring where we filled up our bottles. Luckily, here the weather wasn't that hot like down on the coast, and with the sun going down it was a great hike. We continued up a steep part heading for the shelter "Vlaški Grad". This whole area is forestless, it's all just grass and stones. The shelter "Vlaški Grad", though, lies in a small forest,  between two peaks. Which means, that there seems to be no flat ground, just slopes. The shelter itself is built into a slope with a wooden terrace above a dizzy chasm. There's a fire place outside and a spectacular view over the steep mountains. We had dinner and a rest, and then shortly after 10 p.m. started our hike to Sveto Brdo.

hiking up Sveto Brdo on a full moon night. (photo courtesy of Aleksandar Gospić)

We were blessed with perfect weather! No wind and a mild temperature, and the full moon shining bright above our heads. There was no need for headlamps! We were in a good mood and cheerfully hiked away. Climbing up Sveto Brdo has all kinds of terrain. Flat, up and down and around, through grass, over stones and along not so deep chasms. It was wonderful, with the moonlight! The last leg, though, showed to be very, very steep uphill. Sveto Brdo is shaped like a pyramid with the sides being, well, pyramidal-like steep. An experienced fellow mountaineer boasted he takes about 45 minutes to hike from Vlaški Grad to Sveto Brdo. We took about 3 hours. Once on top, everbody goes "Aaahhhh....!" What a spectacular view! You got the Lika region on the left, and Dalmatia on the right.

what a professional photographer with a lot of patience can do. (photo courtesy of Aleksandar Gospić)
You can see each and every light, the villages, the city of Zadar and the islands. Wow!!! We even heard noise coming from one of the towns beneath. The elder mountaineers explained how lucky we were this year, 'cause for the most of the time Sveto Brdo's peak is covered in clouds with a heavy wind blowing. Tonight, we had a perfectly clear view and almost no wind. We set up camp without tents. What lowered the mood a little bit was the immense humidity. You could feel the chill crawling into your bones, so we tucked up into our sleeping bags and wrapped ourselves in tarp. For long noone slept, but lay silently watching the starry, starry night.

Next morning we were woken by the upcoming sun. It was around 4:30 a.m. when the first sunbeams started colouring the sky in pink, and blue, and purple, and.

Sunrise
.. The clouds lay upon the sea and the sleepy land. The night had been so humid, that the water had formed puddles on the tarps. Whatever wasn't wrapped up in plastic that night, was now soaking wet. We made ourselves comfortable on the sunny side of the mountain, spread out the tarps and sleeping bags to dry, and had breakfast. It was a somewhat solemn mood, being so high up over the land with this wonderful sunrise and the fresh air. On top of Sveto Brdo a cross is set up, which uses to fall victim to thunder striking frequently. Sveto Brdo is one of the most thunder striken places in the country, and it is assumed this being due to the rocks containing a great amount of iron in this area. Kinda mystic, isn't it?

The plan was to start the descent as early as 7 a.m., but didn't get going untill 9.

It was just too good up on the top of Sveto Brdo. So, downhill we went to a place named Dušice, where there was also a shelter. 'Dušice' means 'little souls', but noone could explain where this name came from. I bet, there's some interesting myth behind it. Anyway, it was a nice climb down, with one nasty side note: there might still be land mines, remnants of the Homeland war 16 years ago. Shattered around, it's difficult to locate each one which makes this whole matter even more perverted. So, stay on the path! Don't go peeing in the bushes! At "Dušice" shelter we took a rest and had lunch. This shelter is maintained by a mountaineering club from Zagreb, and sad to say it was in a bad condition.
I wouldn't want to sleep in it. 

We continued, it was constantly downhill now. And what a downhill! Steep, so steep that my toes started to hurt. Naturally, I was slow, putting every step carefully on the slippery grassy and pebbly ground. On top of that, the sun started to burn more and more. It was getting noon, and we were getting away from the fresh high-mountain-air. It took us about 6 hours altogether to get from Sveto Brdo to our cars! Usually, it takes only aboout 3 hours, be we somehow took much longer, blame it on the heat or whatever.  Anyway, it was exhausting! Unfortunately, some of us had run out off water, so as we reached Libinje, we had to look for water sources. At Libinje there are some huts shepherds use, and some of them have cisterns you have to search for.

 

Exhausted we made it to our cars. We couldn't wait to get home and have a shower (or jump into the sea). This last stretch lowered the whole trip, and some of us drove home a little hipped. 

This trip was a well learned lesson. For ones, planning our hike we must take into consideration the outer circumstances - weather, terrain, equipment - before our own pleasure - 'I'm having such a great time here, don't wanna walk NOW'.  Nature is ALWAYS stronger, the mountain is your master. You are just a little human who needs things to survive. Nature doesn't need anything, especially not to submitt to anyone. Secondly, if your fellow hiker ran out of water, would you give them yours though there's no water source nearby? Think about it.

 

vila says:
Thank you! We were lucky to have a professional photographer with us. It was a lot of fun to get us all stand still while he made the pics with only the moonlight on.
It's beautiful indeed, the whole mountain is worth visiting.
Posted on: Dec 31, 2011
Africancrab says:
What beautiful photos. Looks like a place I would love to go hiking.
Posted on: Dec 31, 2011
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our goal
our goal
hiking up Sveto Brdo on a full moo…
hiking up Sveto Brdo on a full mo…
what a professional photographer w…
what a professional photographer …
Sunrise
Sunrise
Wild horses at Libinje plain
Wild horses at Libinje plain
descending Sveto Brdo
descending Sveto Brdo
Sveto Brdo
Sveto Brdo
Shelter Vlaški Grad, Velebit moun…
Shelter Vlaški Grad, Velebit mou…
above us only sky...
above us only sky...
tucked in a tarp
tucked in a tarp
When lighting strikes
When lighting strikes
night becomes day
night becomes day
sunrise, sunrise,...
sunrise, sunrise,...
rise and shine
rise and shine
morning coffee at the Sveto Brdo c…
morning coffee at the Sveto Brdo …
breakfast
breakfast
back the new cross, front the thun…
back the new cross, front the thu…
lunch at Dušice shelter
lunch at "Dušice" shelter
shelter Dušice
shelter "Dušice"
Velebit
photo by: new_world