Egg Boxes and Bovec Cheese
Discovering the unexpected is one of the great delights of hiking in the mountains. There are always surprises at every turn. These are usually of the natural variety but there is one hike in the Julian Alps of Slovenia where a small farm is the main attraction.
I first tackled the hike to in 2013. It is relatively arduous walk from the floor of the stunning Lepena Valley to a pristine alpine lake. When I finally arrived at the highest point of the trail I was looking forward to enjoying the scenery which was certainly spectacular. However, my attention was drawn to a small farm which boasted cows, sheep, pigs and several chickens. There was a sign advertising milk and cheese.
Fresh produce is always enough to pique my interest and so I walked up to the farm. A ginger cat was standing guard outside the stable and the pigs were lazing on the grass. Chickens were running around and the sheep were heading back from their grazing time in the mountain meadow. Then the farmer appeared and he was an eccentric character to say the least!
Cheese and Eggs
Unable to speak a word of English and minus most of his teeth, the rosy faced farmer first introduced me to his pigs. Through sign language and pointing I eventually managed to communicate that I was interested in purchasing some cheese. A cheese making lesson ensued followed by the opportunity to add my name to a roundel. When I tasted the cheese I felt the need to invest in a large portion. It was simply fabulous. Much as I could have done without adding any more weight to my backpack, I just had to have it!
I would also have loved to relieve the farmer of some of his fresh eggs. There is nothing quite like them at breakfast but there was no way that I was going to get them back down that rocky trail intact without an egg box. Oddly enough, egg boxes had not featured in the equipment I had chosen to take along! There were no egg boxes at the farm and so I was forced to leave without any eggs.
Krn Jezero was stunning but it was that farm and the crazy farmer which stuck in my memory. The farmer was mad as a box of frogs but he made the best cheese
I have ever tasted!
This year I was back in Slovenia and on a bright, sunny day I headed back up the trail to Krn Jezero. Sadly without egg boxes again but with high hopes of purchasing more cheese. After three hours of strenuous hiking I arrived at the farm which seemed strangely quiet. For one horrible moment I thought that the farmer may have given up his life in the mountains as there were no animals in sight. Then, right on cue, the sheep appeared followed by several chickens and two pigs.
I walked around to the back of the farmhouse where I found my old friend the farmer with his feet up. He still couldn’t speak any English but the mention of cheese soon had him escorting me to the barn. A few minutes later another roundel had my name on it and my backpack was weighed down by a large hunk of Bovec cheese. Again I rued the fact that I was leaving without eggs but I simply didn’t have room for egg boxes in my pack.
If you ever visit the Bovec region of Slovenia then don’t miss out on the hike to Krn Jezero and make sure you take a big enough backpack to hold egg boxes and a large portion of cheese. A bottle for fresh milk would also be a great inclusion! You will have to carry everything for several hours but trust me that produce is worth the effort.