My Garmin device was still showing me that I was on the right track through the forest path, but the ground I was pushing my bike on, having to carry it in the end, did not even look like a proper path at all. I was moving on very slowly through all the broken branches and trees brought down by some storm or heavy snow, and it was getting dark. „It could be worse... at least it's not raining“, well, so I thought two second before rain drops started falling on my face.
An hour later, in flickering twilight, wet through and freezing, I arrived at Lovinac, our first goal mark of the letter „C“. I was so happy. I was getting to experience Lika the way I love it best: remote, muddy, green, luscious, spacious, poor in all of its abundance and endlessly beautiful and magnificent. As a starting point of our new letter of Welcome I chose the spring of Zrmanja river. I have wanted to explore this region for years now. I have promised myself that I will stop at my future journeys and explore places that seem interesting and attractive.
Zrmanja Vrelo spring is a scattered, half-abandoned, half-restored village in a lovely green valley. The first thing you notice is just how clean and clear Zrmanja really is. You just want to drink from it immediately. There is a twenty minute walk to the spring. Unlike deep springs of rivers Kupa, Cetina and Gacka, Zrmanja sieves through moss covered rocks a foot of a steep, rocky gorge atop of which there are retaining walls of a railway to Knin. A completely surreal and enchanting scene; from a scattered heap of rocks, out of nowhere, suddenly there's a river coming out.
A bit later on, when we were just about done admiring this amazing view and drinking from cold Zrmanja, we got talking to a local called Mihajlo. We learned that the dam we passed was built around 1820 and that it was used to regulate water for the big mill where people from the entire region used to come. We've also found out that there will never be a statesman like Franz Joseph, apparently during his reign, daily allowance would cover two litres of wine, a kilo of lambs meet, kilo of sugar, cigarettes and one would still have some change leftover. I was also told that the old road that meanders through is what is left of the old Terezijana, that it is completely run-down and that I would never be able to go through it on my bike. Luckily, he was very wrong about that. I hardly even noticed riding up the old Terezijana road. I was admiring the skill of builders from the Habsburg era and the nature which completely overgrew and rearranged this whole road. It is a pity to see this construction jewel falling apart like this, but at the same time it is pretty impressive the way nature had taken over it, eroding it, taking it apart and slowly swallowing down through its roots and grounds. I could hardly even notice the engraved inscription through all the dense blackberry bushes, that said: Built in 1858. This old road could actually completely disappear very soon.
I don't even know how to begin to describe this gorgeous area of Lika where I spent the rest of the day. We got to the most remote area of our most remote county, the one between Gracac-Knin highway and Bosnian border. Such amazing views... such gorgeous countryside... such potential... and yet such wasteland. Glogovo village, with only a few barely visible stone houses nested in the landscape, Gubavcevo field, with green meadows and pastures laced with rocks and stones sticking out of ground like open wounds, vast plateau of Deringaj, filled with some overflowing, some dried out brooks, all rounded up with dark hills hiding some new unexplored places.
I leave this wonderful, scarcely inhabited area, riding through the highway again, and I'm reaching Tomingaj, another lovely plateau, where I take the route from the earlier mentioned forest path towards Lovinac. It is dark and it is raining, so I can just about notice the beauty of this area and the valley of the river Suvaja. I'm really looking forward to exploring Lika with the team from Lovinac Info association.