Day 7 - Biogradska Gora to Trešnjevik (25th June)

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Day 7, up and away by 5:47am.

Today's hike started with 6km of uphill forest track to reach a lovely open grassy meadow advertising camping and sleeping pods for 'glamping', plus a modernised Katun selling drinks and food.  I ordered bread, cheese and cranberry tea (for a change). The lady brought me a plate piled high with more raw sheep's cheese than you could possibly know what to do with. I ate as much as my nausea threshold allowed, and then continued via a small detour to get the overlook of Lake Biogradsko.

'Glamping' pods
The track wound upwards and onwards, until I realised I'd missed the shortcut for Crna Glava, or at least I didn't fancy hacking cross country through wet tussocky grass. Once I reached the saddle point, I hid my rucksack off the trail and then headed back north and east to reach the summit of Crna Glava 2139, highest point in the Bjelasica massif.

Summit of Crna Glava

Summit of Crna Glava (self-timer)
I then returned for my rucksack and continued up to Zekova Glava, which turned out to be a military radar station with lots of signs saying No Trespassing and No Photographs in every possible language. However, I only saw these on my way down as I climbed over a rusty barbed wire fence.

I tried to make a fairly sharp exit, and put my camera away, speeded up my hiking a fraction until I was well down the trail and around the corner.

Zekova Glava - military radar station (no photographs)
I'd spotted a good little short cut in Google Earth which dropped me out just below Planinarski Dom "Vranjak" and also found a handy spring (izvor) just before the trail.

Very soon after this I passed a 4-way crossroads where a young lad was sitting by the junction. I assumed he was waiting for a lift, so said "добар дан" and kept on walking.

I vaguely became aware he was following me. Then suddenly became very aware, when I heard the 'clack-clack' of a rifle bolt, that he was carrying a Kalashnikov AK-47.

Montenegrin boy with Kalashnikov AK-47
The various omens that I'd "die for sure" flashed through my mind, and various scenarios played out in my mind in the split second that I realised I only had one option, and that was to stop and turn around and wait for the guy and say "добар дан" again, and ask him where he was going, and what he was doing with the gun.

I was hoping he wasn't going to say he was about to rob me at gunpoint. To my slight bemusement he said he was 'shooting birds'. However, I hadn't seen any birds, and would have thought an AK-47 assault rifle would have been overkill.

Anyhow, he seemed harmless and friendly enough, but I'd didn't feel entirely comfortable walking along with him with his hand on the trigger.

When it looked like we had run out of conversation he suddenly pulled out a cracked smartphone and dialled his sister in Podgorica and put the phone on speakerphone for a strange 3-way conversation.

Most of the conversation consisted of the 2 of them chattering away in Serbian and hysterically laughing. Suddenly apropos of nothing, she asked me if I liked Christiano Ronaldo. I immediately said I preferred Gareth Bale, remembering the incredible goal he scored last year against Barcelona.

She then asked he I liked Barcelona, and I said no Manchester United. Then they asked about Nemanja Vidić.  And next we were onto Novak Djokovic. It was like playing Mornington Crescent with random Serbian sports players. I came up with Goran Ivanisevic next, but they knocked me back on the grounds he's Croatian.

Then they lost interest in the game, and instead the sister-at-the-end-of-the-phone asked me what I liked best about Montenegro as I was walking along with a teenager with a Kalashnikov carrying a satchel full of ammunition.

I knew I mustn't think for too long at the risk of appearing disingenuous, so I just said "all the people I've met have been so friendly", which wasn't entirely true, but seemed to go down quite well.

At last we reached a junction where the boy was dropping down to the right, but my Garmin said to continue left, so I thought our paths would part. But the young guy with gun said "we go this way" and gestured to fainter trail. I wasn't sure if this was the denouement, and all the good humour had been pre-amble, but then we reached his Katun, we shook hands and he jumped through a gap in the fence and was gone.

And that was that. I was now free to continue my hike as if nothing had happened.

Approaching Trešnjevik pass, with Komovi in the background
Wild violets
Campanula bellflowers
Trešnjevik Pass
Eko Katun at Trešnjevik Pass
End of day refreshment

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