Day 2 - Maglić & Piva Canyon (20th June)

30.3km with approx. 1770 metres of ascent

Day 2 dawned damp and grim-looking, with Maglić obscured by heavy low cloud.

Dawn at Trnovačko Lake - no sign of Maglić
I was up and away by 6:20am, and at the summit of Maglić by 8:30am with no view of anything apart from the metal red, blue & white old Yugoslav flag, and painted trig pillar.

Summit of Maglić 2386m
I had originally planned to head south from Maglić 2386m to take in the slightly higher and more remote summit of Veliki Vitao 2397m, but given the poor weather, that was no longer an option.

Had the weather been any good, then this is the fantastic view I would have seen looking down on Trnovačko Jezero.

Trnovačko Jezero
However I saw nothing but thick grey mist.

When I reached a 3-way junction marked on a rock, I knew I didn't want to go to Maglić or Trnovačko Jezero, since I'd just been to both of them, so my only other choice was "Voda" which means 'water' in Serbian. I didn't know which water it was talking about, but assumed the trail must go somewhere, and most likely down to Piva Lake eventually.

3-way track junction for Maglić, Trnovačko Jezero and Voda (water/spring) - direction Piva Lake
I therefore had no choice but to descend the steep rough trail to Mratinje and Piva Lake in cold persistent rain.

Steep rough descent to Piva Lake
When I got close to Mratinje, I found this fantastic little shelter that allowed me to get out of the rain for a few minutes.

Shelter near Mratinje
After this shelter was 4.5km of downhill tarmac to Lake Piva, then another 4km of road to the most enormous dam that was quite dizzy-making to cross. At 220 metres high, the Mratinje Dam is one of the highest in Europe, and as I found out later (according to Wikipedia) featured in the 1978 file Force 10 from Navarone along with a very youthful Harrison Ford, although I'm not convinced it looks anything like the same dam.

Mratinje Dam

Anyhow, once I'd crossed the dam and hunted for the trail on the other side, I realised it headed up a tree-covered cliff with pretty serious fall potential. This proved quite a stressful hour so, clinging on to dog-rose and alder bushes, with no actual trail to speak of, other than the occasional red and white paint marks on trees.

Thankfully the angle eased at last, and the trail became easier beneath the pylons until it topped out onto an expansive plateau with rolling farm tracks. There wasn't much chance of finding water anywhere, but I filled a bottle from a rainwater tank beside a farm.

It was getting late, and I'd been cold and wet all day, and was keen to stop soon.  There was no suitable place for a tent as I walked along a hard stony forest track, but then I spotted a ruined building with intact roof.  It was far from ideal, but the real selling point was that it appeared completely dry inside.  There were no doors or windows, and on closer inspection I found the floor was covered with broken glass and dried cow-shit.  I thought for a moment "I can't sleep here" but looked outside at the relentless rain and realised I didn't have a option.

I took a piece of wood and scraped back the dried cow-shit and glass until I had a clear space to pitch the inner tent, then hung up my wet clothes although there was no chance they would dry out given how cold and damp it was.  For the second night in a row, I had a handful of salted nuts for my evening meal.

Luxury accommodation, Montenegro-style

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