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Scent of a Mountain...

Getting up before sunrise in order to get somewhere while the snow is still hard and driving on empty streets where only the traffic lights are awake precede the feeling you get when descending a peak right after you’ve conquered it… The last time I had such a feeling was when I was descending Treskavac, stepping on hard snow with my eyes half open for the Sun rays were reflecting off the ice-covered ground, onto which parts of snow fell right from my shoes. We were descending the peak that conquered us , and took the whole burden we brought to it and removed it using the power of the north wind…

The title story bears the name of a mountain and starts on the city streets. The reason is the search for the source of a feeling I get overwhelmed by in the mountains. This is a story of one not so well known part of Montenegro with a collection of non-linear thoughts.

A part of the title was borrowed from my favourite Al Pacino’s movie.

At the point where all roads disappear, our road begins… We leave the city behind us, and the only thing ahead of us is the desire for freedom, the one which always embraces us, regardless of our current state od mind...

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That road leads us to the north, passes by the well-known Nevidio canyon and continues to Kozarica village… The valley is silent, surrounded by rocks glowing in the night and protecting the Moon. But not for so long, for the peaks, the guardians of the valley, allow only a small part of the sky to be seen. The experience of sleeping in such a place is priceless. The world of silence and freedom is slowly disappearing in the city, but the places like this allow us to open our minds and feel the life beyond the limits we impose to ourselves on everyday basis.

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A macadam road leads to the last house in the valley and becomes a path which goes down the Komarnica river and disappears in the woods… You leave all your worries at this place, in case you haven’t done it already.

Those who live here throughout the year don’t have the same worries we do, but instead they cope with loneliness and commitments ahead of them, in order to prepare themselves for the always-present winter.

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It’s the beginning of June and the wood is still sleeping… The summer comes a little bit later here, but the winter comes earlier than in the south. When you spend a few months in a year in the mountains, you are able to feel all the changes occurring in nature that we aren’t aware of in the city… Time passes very fast even though the moments in nature are eternal and we want to use every of them as good as possible… We could spend our lives here and it wouldn’t be enough for us to remember everything it offers… I took this path a few times last year, but every time I would encounter different plants, birds and leaf colours…

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We pass through the woods for about 10 minutes and reach the place where we cross the river. There are a few parts like this on the path, and each of them is special in its own way. The places the river divides are magical and it seems like they move us to a completely new world that is totally different from the one we were in a moment ago. We go down the marked path across meadows to the mixed wood forest, following the river and enjoying the silence.

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At the time when we thought we’ve already seen enough beauty, something appeared ahead of us… One of the last unspoilt places, a hidden valley (Poljane) dominated bycliffs of Bolj The woods, valley, peaks, peace… All the contrasts joined together in one whole I cannot separate from… Just like a stage or a scenography of a perfect dream…

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We walk through the valley for around 3 hours, to the place called Krlje, where we make a short ascent and pass through the woods leading to rocky path, separating us from Dobri do…

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Reaching Dobri Do is a feeling hard to explain… From the beginning to the very end of the tour, the landscape changes… It starts with meadows, continues with a dense forest and an amazing valley, and ends in the bottom of a rough mountain. The sheer vastness with a few simple houses and a possibility to run into a Shar mountain dog or some of the remaining people whose love for the mountains tied them to this place. I can only describe the love for the mountains as a sense of belonging to itself which makes me constantly seek for its air, rocks and cold nights…

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We make a short break and move on… We’ll soon get to the end… I feel a little bit nervous because I need to sit behind the wheel and leave the things I created in my head in contact with the mountain… I want to see off the people I brought and return to the valley all alone…

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Our hiking ends at the local road leading from Žabljak to Trsa - one of the most beautiful roads in Montenegro… We take a short break at Sedlo, and admire the view.

The tour is 11 kilometers long and suitable for hiking in summer and early fall. In order to have as good experience as possible when it comes to this path, I suggest you to start from Dobri Do, and to it in reverse, because it may be easier for you to go downhill.

The photos were made at the beginning of June 2016, but if you decide to take the tour later in the summer, expect a little higher water level and longer grass through the valley, alongside countless medicinal herbs and edible mushrooms.

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A few years ago, I made a photo of the view to the other side, from this very place… The scene where the sky takes on shades of pink and blue lasted only for a couple of minutes and is one of the most beautiful things I had the chance to experience.

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At the end of their lives people usually feel regret for the things they haven’t experienced, for not giving themselves more freedom and for the lack of will to get carried away by imagination and desire… In order to feel alive, one must have the freedom to explore and discover the world and his own role in it…

In only one day in the mountains, you can feel the whole life, a peaceful and cold morning, the need for warmth and the expectation of the first Sun’s rays to hit the tent, the first and indecisive steps towards ascending a distant peak, insecurity and fear while freezing and holding on to the rock, the feeling of pleasure and success at the conquered peak, having a completely new adventure the next day.

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If heaven exists, I am sure it feels like in these moments when I am the part of the mountain, picking wild berries on slopes of Komovi mountain, drinkig cold water from Rogam spring, watching wild horses next to us, enjoing unlimited freedom.

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Bare and rocky peaks are a contrast to calm lakes in late autumn, but the feeling is the same…

To start creating your own story with the mountain, you only need the will to pack your things into a backpack.

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It is hard to describe the sky full of stars to someone whose day begins and ends in front of a computer screen, someone who’s being told what he/she should wish for, who thinks that everything has already been explored and the silence to those used to the constant city noise. The sight of the Milky Way through dense pine trees reminds us that we are a part of something much bigger, something that’s already within us. The cold air and warmth of the sleeping bag remind us that we are alive, and the morning drops the curtain onto this beautiful stage, asking us to save the memory of it till another mountain night.

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I find my escape from the city in the fact that the Milky Way exists even though we’ve hidden it behind artificial lighting of the street lights…

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"Sometimes I feel like I'm seeing it all at once, and it's too much, my heart fills up like a balloon that's about to burst... And then I remember to relax, and stop trying to hold on to it, and then it flows through me like rain and I can't feel anything but gratitude for every single moment of my stupid little life... You have no idea what I'm talking about, I'm sure. But don't worry... you will someday."

- American Beauty

 

Radonja Srdanović, Mart 2017.

2021  Radonja Srdanović - Mountain guide