My Return to Bjelašnica

Faruk explains the habits of the wild boars in the area

“We live in a fast-paced society. Walking slows us down.”
– Robert Sweetgall

Avery the Intern here again reporting for duty. My second walk/hike with Green Visions started at the village of Umoljani, which is a village located near Lukomir, about an hour south of Sarajevo. Both Lukomir and Umoljani are settlements on the mountain of Bjelašnica.  I was participating in the Seven Watermills Definite Departure hike. We were led by Faruk Karabegovic, a 56 year old mountain guide for Green Visions who is originally from Sarajevo. Faruk, in my opinion, wins the ‘Most Interesting Man’ award for all of Sarajevo, but that is a blog post for another day.

We began our hike in Umoljani and started our short ascent up to the summer village of Gradina. From Gradina we had a great view of the surrounding mountains and started our walk into the valley of studenti polje. We followed a small stream through the center of the valley as we observed the patches of torn up grass that were apparently due to the digging of wild boars. I had no idea that wild boars roamed the mountains around here! Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately), I have yet to see a wild boar on all of my hikes. The small stream that we followed through the valley was beautiful; full of crisp, refreshing water. There were multiple points where we had to balance on rocks as we crossed the stream to stay on the path. As we reached the end of this small valley, the beautiful Rakitnica Canyon opened up before us and we followed it as we descended down to our lunch spot. We sat in a small little clearing next to a rock outcropping and had a picnic lunch. The view was great, albeit a little bit cloudy. Our group was composed of six people; me, Faruk, a younger Bosnian couple from Sarajevo, and a middle aged couple from Spokane, WA, USA. As we sat together and ate lunch, we tried to bridge the language gap between English and Bosnian with some very poorly done charades, but only with slight success.

Exiting studenti polje for a great view of Rakitnica Canyon

As we hiked back up out of Rakitnica Canyon we took a different trail that led us around the other side of the mountain that had created the valley of studenti polje (the first valley we hiked through). We followed Rakitnica Canyon all the way around the side of this mountain, following the occasional steam and scrambling the occasional group of rocks. As we neared the end of our hike we stopped and got up close to a watermill located close to the town of Umoljani. The mill was no longer functioning as we could see many of the different parts had broken off and were scattered about. We grabbed some fresh spring water coming out of a tap on the side of the mountain before we finished the final leg of our hike. After hiking through some freshly cut hay fields, we ended up at a mosque just a little ways down the hill from Umoljani, where we were met by our van driver. The mosque has an interesting history, but you’ll have to go on the hike to hear it for yourself.

**If you choose to do this hike, I would recommend wearing some longer hiking pants. There are a couple areas where the grass and weeds are pretty long and could possibly scrape up your legs a little bit.

Once again, not a very strenuous hike but a great way to get out for a day and see the beautiful nature that surrounds Sarajevo. I had a wonderful time and made a couple new good friends. My next adventure is a two day trip in Sutjeska National Park over in eastern Bosnia on the border with Montenegro.

“I haven’t got any special religion this morning. My God is the God of Walkers. If you walk hard enough, you probably don’t need any other god.” ~Bruce Chatwin, In Patagonia, 1977


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