Around Šljemena

Today it was time for a spin on the mountain bike. So I took mapsource and tried to plot a nice roundcourse of about 30kms. It worked out just fine today. We are camping near the river, so we are on the lowest point, which means that the ride starts with a long climb to gain altitude. I prefer it this way, because when things don’t work out, turning back means going down hill (easy and short time needed) and that’s always the preferred modus operandi as far as I am concerned. The climb starts gentle on asphalt but soon this turns into a gravel track, suitable for 4×4, or, if you are a local resident, a normal passenger car will do fine too.

The gravel is sometimes very loose and steep, but that are only some small sections. During the climb the forest opens up and a small settlement appears. When you leave the settlement behind, expect to arrive at a sort of plateau, still undulating terrain though. The grassy but otherwise barren landscape is vast and almost empty.

There are only a few small huts that appear to be used by sheep herders for the occasional stay, or used as storage. These cabins are build with local stones for walls and have a corrugated roof most of the part. Apart from these cabins there is no protection should the weather turn for the worse, so better be prepared and check the forecast or take extra clothes with you.

During the ride I came close to a highest point, Šljemena, not standing out so much between the other ones, but nonetheless the highest one close by. Of course there is no trail to the top, but the slopes appeared not too steep and the distance not too far; I decided I had to try it anyway -with the bike this time. it worked out to be possible. From this area (it is not needed to reach the summit) you can have good look at the mountains of the Durmitor National Park, and in the other direction it seems a vast part of Montenegro can be seen, repeating the terrain I am riding in: steep slopes that are covered with trees, but the rounded mountain tops are grassy with just the occasional solitary tree or small patches of forest.

Shortly after the highest point I had the choice of following the main trail, now at its least used section, meaning the grass is barely worn out and only flattened by the occasional traffic, or follow a walking trail that can just seen be as a 10cm wide trail between the grass. Truly a single trail.. I decide to follow the latter, but soon it disappears all together. Not looking forward to follow this GPS line while walking with the bike for another 1.5kms in clueless terrain, I decide to traverse the slope to the nearest hairpin bend that is visible, a mere 200 metres across the terrain. From there it is possible to ride again, and I come across the only sheep herder on this day. The last part of this trip goes downhill, and quite steep so, concluding that I made the right choice to do this round trip counter-clockwise.

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