In Rab: the hike to Kamenjak - Balkan Dreams - CycleBlaze

September 28, 2020

In Rab: the hike to Kamenjak

Today’s ride

Last night was a replay of the previous two, with us wakened in the middle of the night with the crash of thunder, howling wind, and the hammering of rain on the windows.  In the morning we would discover it took out the WiFi.

It’s dry in the morning though, and looks to be so until about noon.  With an easy eight mile ride ahead of us we’re in no hurry to leave, so I bike down to the nearest cafe for coffee and to make use of their WiFi so we can check with today’s lodging to see if we can arrive early.  No problem - the apartment is ready, and we can show up at any time.

We leave about ten.  Not much to say about an easy eight mile ride, except that we converted it to ten by chasing an attractive side road that turned to gravel and mud after a mile so we backed out.  We’ll let the video tell the rest of this morning’s short tale.

We arrive in Rab town about 11, and check in at the real estate office where we pick up the keys.  The agent checks us in and then calls our hostess to alert her that we’ve arrived so she’ll be there to greet us.  It’s a short two blocks away, but just as we leave the rains start.  Even in this brief exposure it’s enough so that we’re getting wet by the time we arrive.  We don’t have an address - the agent just pointed to a spot on the map - so we’re just starting to get anxious about locating it when we look up and see our host waving at us from a second floor balcony.

Our quiet paved side road deteriorated to this after a mile. We gave it a few hundred yards after the pavement ended, but turned back when it looked like this. No sense arriving all muddy as long as we have a cleaner option.
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Video sound track: Još Sam tu (I’m still here), by Lea Dekleva

The Bike Fridays settle in at our second floor (no elevator) apartment in old Rab town.
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The hike to Kamenjak

After a few hours, the rains pass on.  With most of the afternoon available, we study the map for walking ideas and find a hike for the ages.  The climb to the lookout point at Kamenjak is a walk I’m sure we’ll be remeniscing over to the end of our days.

You’ll recall from the photo of our arrival in Lopar yesterday that the landward flank of the island is a steep, barren rocky slope.  You can’t see this from most of the island because its on the opposite side of a high, steep ridge.  There is only one place where any road reaches the summit of the ridge, and none at all on the rocky side itself.  And it’s no wonder once you get up there and see the surreal barren karst expanse stretching below you, its surface criss-crossed with stone walls.  

Our destination is Kamenjak, a 1,300’ high point at the end of the intermittently paved road that reaches the crown of the ridge.  There’s a telecommunication tower at the top, so presumably the road exists to service it.  You could bike up, but it’s steep the whole way.  It’s much more suitable as a walk.

In addition to the road there’s a well marked hiking path that zigzags its way up the steep, wooded western slope.  Our plan is to walk up on the path and then down on the road, which I’m thinking should be easier on my knees.  

The walking path is great.  It’s never as steep as it looks like it would be when viewed from below because it makes such a contoured run up the slope.  In imagining this hike, my goal was to get to the top and see the other side; but the ascent itself made the hike well worthwhile in its own right.

Leaving Rab town, on the hike to Kamenjak. Our route takes us up through that gap ahead. We’re still in the outskirts of town, following the road to the summit until coming to the turnoff to the hiking trail.
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On the trail. Once we’re on it, the whole way to the summit is more or less like this - a well developed path that alternates between dirt and broken karst fragments.
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As we gain altitude the views become increasingly dramatic. This is Rab town, with what I think is Lošinj in the distance.
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One for Bill, to keep him interested. Or, most of one - it looks like he’s lost the end of his tail.
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Bill ShaneyfeltThanks! Might be a common wall lizard.
Yes they do lose their tails when grabbed by a predator. It then escapes as the tail is devoured. It does re-grow, but the replacement is not as elegant as the original.
That one looks like it was recently lost and only slightly begun to regenerate.
https://www.inaturalist.org/taxa/55990-Podarcis-muralis
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4 weeks ago
Jen GrumbyLizards without tails, seagulls without legs ... What's next?!
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4 weeks ago
Scott AndersonTo Jen GrumbyAmericans without orange ogres?
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4 weeks ago
Scott AndersonTo Bill ShaneyfeltI knew this would smoke you out.
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4 weeks ago
This beautiful trail was designed by Ante Premuži, a renowned engineer who also designed and built trails in Velebit, Plitvice Lakes, Krk, and Mljet. The trail through Velebit was built in the early 1930’s, so this one must date from about that time also.
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Looking more toward the northwest, with Lošinj still sprawled across the horizon.
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On the climb to Kamenjak.
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On the climb to Kamenjak.
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Nearing the summit of the ridge, the last of the vegetation starts giving way.
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Near the summit is the Vidilica (observation deck) of Dr. Dr. M. Tomašić, dated in 1932. if I’d realized it was an observation point, we might have scrambled over there. (Oh - Rachael tells me that she walked out to it. We’d better go back sometime so I can see too.)
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Toward the top, the climb tapers off considerably and we pass through a series of gates through fences that apparently control sheep movement near the summit.  Suddenly, we crest the ridge and see what we came for - sublime views across the channel to Velebit, and beneath us the awesome karst landscape I’d been eager to see.  It’s not a disappointment.

Here we’re looking straight north. The green is the northern tip of Rab, by Lopar; and the barren mass beyond is the southern end of Krk.
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Looking north toward the small islands between Krk and Rab: Otok Sveti Grgur and Goli Otok.
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Image not found :(
A panorama north toward Krk.
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Looking across the channel to Velebit, the largest mountain range in Croatia. It’s cloud-capped today, so we’ll just imagine there’s a bit of snow on top. This must be an incredible spot to be on a clear winter’s day.
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Another panorama, this time across the channel to Velebit.
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Walking north along the crest of the ridge. We didn’t go far today, but the trail continues all the way to Lopar.
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Another look at Velebit.
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And another.
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An unbelievably spectacular place to walk.
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Jen GrumbyYes! Especially with the showy cumulonimbus clouds at a safe distance.
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4 weeks ago
What could be better than this?
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Jen GrumbyCertainly nothing we've seen in the news lately.

Looks like an excellent place to disconnect from the nonsense!
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4 weeks ago
There’s not much vegetation eking out an existence in this severe environment, and it’s all a bit strange. This one looks like a creature Dr Seuss might have imagined.
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Bill ShaneyfeltLooks like African Leonotis genus.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leonotis
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4 weeks ago
Scott AndersonTo Bill ShaneyfeltYou’re right, it does look like this plant. Perhaps not though, since Leonotis likes moist habitats and grows to 3-6 feet tall and this one is more like 8”. Interesting that it’s a relative of cannabis. It didn’t occur to smoke it.
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4 weeks ago
Bill ShaneyfeltI may have found it! Mint family whatever...

It looks like Jerusalem sage (Phlomis fruticosa).

https://www.gapphotos.com/imagedetails.asp?imageno=166820
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4 weeks ago
Scott AndersonTo Bill ShaneyfeltThat’s it! Awesome job, Bill. After seeing this I browsed other photos of the plant. It’s hard to find any of it in its dry season.
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4 weeks ago
Another view north to the small islands. This is a great time to be up here, with the late afternoon light highlighting these astonishing walls.
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It’s getting late in the day and there’s still a three mile walk down a steep road ahead of us, so we get started.  It’s easier walking, but also I’m glad we returned this way because the views are so spectacular, and different than we’ve seen before.

The walk is steep, but not too bad. I’ll make it down fine, but I’m happy to accept a lift from a couple stopped at a dramatic viewpoint of Rab town on the way down - nearly the only beings other than sheep we’ve seen since the hike began.  It saves my knees a bit of strain, and even more importantly gets us in front of a menu about an hour earlier than would have happened otherwise.

And, it lets us have an interesting conversation with this couple on the way down.  They’re German, and on a two week holiday.  They’re spending nearly all of it in Rab, because it’s one of the few spots in Croatia where they can go without facing a two week quarantine when they return home.

On the way down we start seeing sheep ranging freely across the summit.
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The views this way are spectacular too. That nearest ribbon island is Otok Dolin - a small island, we’re seeing about half of it here. Beyond it is the long finger at the northern end of Pag. When we leave Rab we’ll catch a ferry to Lun, a tiny place right at the northern tip of Pag.
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One last look down at Rab town. After this, we’re happy to accept the offered ride. We’ve seen enough.
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Not much point showing you today’s bike ride, but you might be interested in the hike. Switch to the satellite view and zoom in on the landscape.
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Jen GrumbyWow! Very cool to see from above. Definitely a memorable hike.
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4 weeks ago

Ride stats today: 9 miles, 700’; for the tour: 1,240 miles, 57,600’

Today's ride: 10 miles (16 km)
Total: 1,245 miles (2,004 km)

Rate this entry's writing Heart 8
Comment on this entry Comment 3
Kathleen JonesFantastic. I'd be talking about it the rest of my life too.
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4 weeks ago
Scott AndersonTo Kathleen JonesI’m so glad we took this hike. It’s really given us a feeling for the island we wouldn’t have gotten otherwise. I’m thinking this might be the best way to see them - bike to a base, and then take a hike.
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3 weeks ago
Kathleen JonesTo Scott AndersonYeah, the things you don't see when you're whizzing by on your bike, right? Gotta slow down sometimes and actually walk.
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3 weeks ago