2012-08-25 07:59:32 by Theun Karelse

Through the sweltering heat, over the mountain tops and throught the forgotten valleys a team of Hikers moves along powered only by aromatic herbs and the thrill of exploration, to touch,taste and smell the landscape we will be seeing from Unmanned Vehicles, if we make it through this hikeā€¦

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The Sun is scorching the Slovenian landscape around Marko Peljhan's idilic mountain retreat into a crispy herbal wafer. These hills are experiencing the worst drought for decades. Along the roads plants are covered by a thick layer of grey dust. There is a big cloud of dust behind the landrover that is transporting some of the Resilients. This is a potato safari. The potato field owned by the grandfather of our amazing cook Micha is clearly impacted by the weather. This will be our last supper before the hike. One last night in a tent. In the morning before the Sun does it's worst, a gentle, rather tall figure appears from the woods. Our guide for the hike Dario Cortese energizes the Resilients team with some Kombucha and Absinth drinks. We proceed into the forest, up to the edge of the cliffs stopping in the most unexpected places to admire local wild edible plants. Dario is a walking encyclopedia sharing a deep knowledge of the countryside with a mixture of English, Slovenian and Latin botanic language occasionally intertwined with historic perspectives by Marko. What an excellent way to become familiar with a new place! The first day of the Hike leads us into a spectacular national park. Guided by Dario and his intoxicating 'stomach medicines' we proceed deeper and deeper into the forest. By nightfall we find ourselves by a ruined loggers house having a light dinner with potent aromatic herbs that have been charged and condensed by months of blistering sunshine. Sleeping-bags are prepared in the last rays of light. The sunset is amazing, the stars even more so. As we float on a few centimeters of foam in our hiking mattresses, high above us the International Space Station passes, as the nebulous Milky-way reveals itself in all it's glory. In the dark of night from the hills surrounding our base-camp an awful cry breaks our light sleep. Moving through the woods something is galloping with awesome power. The creature announces itself barking away like a mad dog. Our brave Resilients lie frozen in their sleeping-bags. Why don't these bags have legs so we could run?! Zipped up to our chins, will we be helplessly dragged away into the forest like a conveniently wrapped evening snack?! What is this abomination? To our great relief the beast continues it's journey along the hills to our left to disappear into the night. The next morning coffee serves as a portal back to reality. In the morning light things seem so much calmer again. The creature that roamed through the night is apparently a male dear! Dario is very amused by our stories from the midnight encounter. We set off relentlessly going further into the wild. This second day of the hike leads us up to dizzying heights into the mountains. The meadows dominated by Wild Carrot and Parsnip have given way to Beech forests with Raspberry that energize empty stomachs and a mountaintop with a telecommunications mast harboring Atropa Bella Donna at its base. Deep under these dry mountains a lake of water resides, the limestone rocks cover narrow tunnels going down in to the deep. The team however continues to climb up until a meadow is reached where we will spend the night. Under the Pine-trees we spend our second night after a meal of ever more potent aromatic herbs.

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Dario leading the climb, image by Shelly.

The Resilients team wakes up by the sound of what must be a weird local hunter singing like a madman. It turns out however to be our guide Dario. Not all of the team appear to be in great shape. The Absinth 'stomach medicine' has taken it's toll on our Tanzanian fellow explorer. By 'calling some deers' as it is know locally, he clears his body of the spirits that haunt his bowels. The energy however is drained from his body, but he will continue with us up to the very mountain tops. The hike is turning into quite an epic endeavor. Placing feet, grabbing rocks and winding up the narrow paths we climb to the highest ridges. The landscape is unbelievable, like a scene from Lord of the Rings. From the peaks the Resilients oversee their entire journey; from the meadows close to the ridge, to the forgotten valley where we swam in the crystal clear waters. But our stomachs do not let us rest. Rumors have spread of a mountain hut with food down the other side of Viper Mountain. The famished team feasts on strudel and beer. We continue down past the raspberry fields in the forest to make our camp for the night as we re-enter civilization at Caven. Dario our eccentric but excellent guide has lead us through the hike. We have seen, touched, smelled and tasted this area now. We have learned to recognize many of its plants. We are now ready to continue. We are ready for phase 02 of the Unmanned Rt.

Dario's handout on Wild Food's Wide Perspectives, Dario's handout accompanying the hike.

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