Back in the saddles again on our third day in Montenegro, we checked what makes the salt and where is the sugar on the Salty and Sweet Top Biking Trail along the Tara and Sušica canyons, and... where is the Sušicko Lake?
Lazy start in Zabljak
After 2 days of hiking in the Durmitor National Park we were so exhausted, that we slept till 11 am. (Although we dug ourselves into the sleeping bags just after 10 pm.)
Being so tired we were packing also at a snail's pace.
So without even eating, we were ready to ride at... 1pm
But it's not even a final start of our trip for that day.
Because we hadn't had breakfast as we had eaten all of our supplies yesterday's night, we had to begin our ride from getting into Zabljak center to get anything to eat and drink.
There aren't any other shops around other than one in the Zabljak center.
Ok. I lie.
There is also one more!
Just before Zabljak southern entrance ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
So in the Zabljak center we ate our breakfast at a local bakery and we filled up our panniers with some supplies from the market to munch down later. Later there would be no other occasion to get food in a civilized way.
We also didn't miss the gas station. These are also rare near Zabljak and Durmitor. So if you see one, you better use one.
Precautiously, we've bought a SIM card to have some internet connection with better navigation too. We've got several GB in price of few euros. So we can definitely recommend buying a card in Montenegro instead of using quite expensive roaming.
We hadn't had a precise plan for this day.
The sun was shining, pleasantly warming the skin cooled in the chilly air. But for the next few days, the weather cast was not so optimistic. It was supposed to rain in the evening already. Temperature was said to drop to 10oC.
The time on the clock was also not in favor for long distance trips. It was 3 pm already. So there were maybe 4 hours of daylight left (it's almost October, I mind you!). We had to find some shelter for the night too, duh.
So two tired sloths decided to see Nedajno Canyon, Tara Canyon and Sušičko Jezero (Sušičko Lake).
Wait... isn't that a lot for one day and two sloths?
Ha! It's only 40 kilometers! (∩■ ͜ʖ■)⊃━☆ﾟ.*
Want to check this route on the video?
Same, but different! From Zabljak to Tara Canyon
Our lazy roll to Nedajno Canyon leads through an unnamed road. Though, for example, in mapy.cz it's a fragment of so called TT1 - Top Biking Trail Salty and Sweet, which starts somewhere in Herceg Novi, at the Kotor Bay.
I don't know the origin of that name for sure, but I can guess. The twisty and steep road for sure is wringing out the non-motorized part of the population from all their sweat, at the same time sugaring the brave ones with the glorious, mountainous landscapes.
But our little fragment doesn't unveil suddenly all its treasures.
It unravels slowly. Just like a hiking trail.
First it starts sparingly with a green, shadowed, pine forest.
Then it smoothly starts to turn, slowly climbing up the elevation without a rush.
The evergreen's walls stick closely and won't let you see anything until...
Some wild span occurs!
And you're reminded that you're riding up the mountains!
After that the trees and rocky slopes again enclose the view.
But the road grows steeper and the turns close tighter, winding from left to right and right to left. Faster and faster.
Like a song building up for the final drop.
So you wait for the drop and suddenly...
You realize you're on 1700 meters a. s. l.!
From here the forest retreats and the road leads you through the mountain pass meadows.
Though you have to look out and not be too enchanted with the views. The road is quite narrow, and you have to watch out for cars or other enthralled motorcyclists.
From the meadows the road takes you up even higher in a hair-pin turn through a saddle between massif building up to Pazista peak (2114 m a. s. l.) and another elevation raising to Mali Stuoc summit (1953 m a. s. l.).
The twists soften, but we're 1900 meters above sea level now and the landscape open up to the right side of the road, so we can look at the Tara Canyon now.
There are at least two good viewpoints to take a break there.
At one there is also a gravel road branch going up the Veliki Stuoc, so you can go up to 2100 m a. s. l. But we haven't tried it this time.
We tried one year ago. However, we couldn't get straight to the top as there was No trespassing sign at some point.
Nevertheless, you can always check it on your own. Besides, you can just get even better view on Tara Canyon, even if you won't make it to the very top.
Sušica (or Nedajno) Canyon
From the viewpoints on the Tara Canyon, the road further leads along the crag.
But after a while, it again jumps into forests.
And from the forests again in a few turns it leads you down and out to more soft, flat and meadowy landscapes with mountain ridges only looming far away on the horizon.
Soon the Sušica Canyon walls start to rise in the distance. The road follows them along through the plateau.
It won't let you get any closer to the cliff edge at this point.
But Sušica Canyon is also sometimes called also Nedajno Canyon from the village name lying at the other side of it. In Nedajno there is a nice vantage point, where you can stand closer to the crag to look down. But this we will check in the next post as we didn't reach Nedajno this day.
Down the Sušica Canyon to Sušicko Lake
After the grassy top of the Sušica Canyon, the road jumps for a moment into the trees and then twists 180 degrees to start traversing the canyon slope in a snake-like movement.
It leads us down to the Sušica Canyon very bottom now, actually, where Sušicko Jezero hides among the forests.
And maybe we weren't sweating like cyclists cruising here around, but my palms definitely got a little wet as the canyon edge was always at my wheels reach along this descent.
(Not to mention the smaller and bigger rocks spilled everywhere on the track by the brittle stone walls building up the canyon.)
After some twists and turns, we could take a sneak peek at Sušicko Lake...
But there weren't any signs of water.
And when we finally reached the canyon bottom... we just confirmed it.
Sušicko Lake dried out already.
What was left was only the grass and mud.
Sušicko Lake is periodic and disappears in the autumn time.
So I guess we will have to get back there another time, in the middle of the summer, not at the end :D But we thought it was not that late, and we will make it... Well, not this time :D
Up to free shelter in the wild!
Normally, in the season, there is a mountain hostel open at the Sušicko Jezero. But of course... We are here in the late September, when most of the tourists are already home and even the lake has left, so it is closed.
So we just took some water from a water source there and decided to move back up the canyon walls to an open shelter we saw earlier, somewhere at 1800 m a. s. l.
If you wonder are the views also nice when you ride the canyon wall from the other side, then they are :)
I, personally, can't choose my favourite side to ride... Can you? %)
Our shelter for the night was a little hut build by the local mountaineering club/foundation and open for any late or erring hiker/biker/other-er loving mountains.
There's really nothing inside. Just bare floor, some wooden bench and wooden table with a candle, guest book and... toilet paper ;)
But we couldn't ask for more. It kept us safe from the wind, cold and snow(!), which was falling in the early morning.
And we didn't even have to pitch up a tent! We could enjoy the rest of the evening cooking some simple, but warm meal and drinking some local beer we've got from the market in Zabljak, while watching the sun goes down behind the mountains.