Balkans 2012 - Travelogue Part 4 - Biogradska Gora NP

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#1)  Balkans 2012 - Travelogue Part 4 - Biogradska Gora NP

Postby Michael J Spraggon » Sat Nov 17, 2012 8:43 am

It's Saturday, its time for part 4 - the Biogradska Gora National Park in Montenegro.

Enjoy!
Michael

               
                       
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Part 4

Day 6: Biogradska Gora

Breakfast is an international affair: a full English followed by a Continental, eaten in Montenegro by a Dutchman, a Finn and a German/English/Hungarian crossbreed. Mr No Problem, who runs the municipal waste department of Kolasin has big plans for the rest of the weekend. “Today I go to river with my friend, drink Pivo and cook a lamb. We eat whole lamb, no problem.” We ask Lydia if there is a launderette in town. She offers to do all of our laundry free of charge and we of course accept.

The Biogradska Gora National Park is only a few miles from Kolasin, past a ski resort and up a wooded lane. The entrance and tourist centre is on the bank of Biogradsko Lake, the largest of the 6 glacial lakes in the park, situated in the virgin forest which makes up about a third of the parks area of 54km². Two wooden pods in a cute little Ewok village perched on the hillside will be our home for the next 2 nights.

Today we are exploring the area around the lake and the beginning of the valley beyond. It’s not long before we are measuring some large beeches which are over 40 metres but not quite champions. There are large edible snails everywhere so we must look down as well as up to avoid the dreaded crunch.

We take a brief walk into the steep sided valley beyond the lake, which we will be exploring in more detail tomorrow. The ground vegetation is an uninterrupted carpet of wild garlic (Allium ursinum). As we crush it beneath our feet the smell is very pungent but it doesn’t stop me from munching on the leaves as I walk and stuffing then into my sandwiches – there haven’t been enough fresh vegetables in our diet so far this trip. Soon we find two European champions: a dead standing sycamore maple of 40.6m (133.2ft) and a wych elm of 40.4m (133.5ft).

As we continue the valley becomes steeper and the river is fast flowing over rocks with large fallen tree trunks, each holding a thick garden of mosses, plants and small saplings. We measure several trees of over 50 metres and Kouta says that the tallest ones are further up the valley but we have run out of time today and will return tomorrow. There is one more surprise as we reach the lake again. Jeroen sees a very tall large-leaved lime and measures it: 39.2m (129ft). It is the tallest in Europe! Already Biogradska Gora has exceeded our expectations.

On our way into Kolasin for our evening meal we stop off to pick up our washing. Lydia has dried and neatly folded our clothes and put them into bags. Mr No Problem appears looking groggy. He claims to have had 15 Pivos to wash down the lamb this afternoon and has been asleep for 4 hours.

Day 7

After a sound sleep we emerge from our wooden capsules and decide to have breakfast at the restaurant in the forest, a large building on stilts further down the hillside with the dining area on a wide veranda looking out over the lake. Breakfast should have started at 08:00 but the staff don’t arrive for work until ten past. Music starts playing over the speakers. It’s not the lively Balkan folk music I was expecting. Instead, track after track of sombre men sing in unison over a dreary marching accompaniment, reminiscent of the strong, peoples anthems of Stalinist Russia, issued by the Bolshevik Party to inspire hard work and productivity.

I ask for a continental. A plate with sachets of butter and jam arrives but no bread. The waiter says I have to order that separately. Afterwards he brings a big pile of paper. There is a separate receipt for every item the three of us have ordered!

After breakfast we quickly retrace our route around the lake and up the steep sided valley. We are already finding trees of around 55m when I spot a Norway spruce far higher than the surrounding trees but surprisingly a long way up on the hillside. It’s difficult to tell which trunk on the slope is the correct base but Kouta measures two possible bases and says that the tree could be either 58 or 67 metres tall! Could this surpass the Sgerm Spruce and be the tallest native tree in Europe?

               
                       
image001.jpg
                                       
               

Tall spruce and fir near the confluence.

I cross the river on a huge fallen trunk and scramble up the steep slope to find the true base. It turns out to be the higher of the two so we haven’t found the new tallest native tree in Europe. J & K are having trouble hitting the base with the laser so, using my imagination, I pull my t-shirt up exposing my white belly as a substitute tree trunk. It actually works and we find that the tree is 59m (194ft) tall.

The going gets harder with the river becoming strewn with the trunks of trees that have slipped off the hillside and a continuous carpet of rhubarb-like plants with leaves up to a metre across. Eventually we reach a confluence. Kouta remembers seeing the widest spruce of them all here on the land between the waters in 2008. He finds the tree again. It is 671cm around the trunk and buttress and also taller than expected: 56.2m. Further up the right hand fork while standing by the river I can just see a tall silver fir though the trees in the distance. We find it and Jeroen gets a laser measurement of 53.6m (176ft) – the tallest fir measured in Montenegro.

There is still more to explore in Biogradska Gora and quite likely other champions yet to be found but they will have to wait for another year.

               
                       
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Jeroen (nearest) and Kouta negotiating some more fallen trunks.

Day 8

My second and final breakfast at the restaurant in the forest is less successful than the first. I try eating the dessert I have ordered but it is literally floating in syrup, filled with syrup and covered in sugar. I can feel hyperglycaemia and acid reflux coming on so I leave the rest and ask for something that has energy and fresh vegetables but no sugar. Ah, potatoes and mixed salad is just the thing. Our waiter returns with a large dinner plate completely filled with nothing but potatoes smothered in oil and another large plate completely filled with slightly yellow shredded lettuce covered with enough salt to de-ice Greenland. Through the loudspeakers the Russian workers choir sings on…

Michale J. Spraggon

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#2)  Re: Travelogue Part 4 - Biogradska Gora NP

Postby dbhguru » Sat Nov 17, 2012 9:00 am

Michael,

   Indeed I did enjoy. I also learned a lot. Norway spruce rules over the European landscape in ways I'd never have imagined. Also, I would have never imagined that separate orders would be necessary for the components of one's breakfast. Quaint to say the least.

Bob
Robert T. Leverett
Co-founder and Executive Director
Native Native Tree Society
Co-founder and President
Friends of Mohawk Trail State Forest
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#3)  Re: Travelogue Part 4 - Biogradska Gora NP

Postby Michael J Spraggon » Sat Nov 17, 2012 9:48 am

I really struggled with the Restaurant in the Forest, to the great amusement of J & K!

Michael

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