Frequently asked questions
Slovenian Mountain Trail or simply Transverzala is a circular walking trail encompassing the Slovenian mountain world. It was proposed as early as 1951, but by the early 1960s less than half of its route had been realized. It stayed that way until 2019, when the missing half of the trail was defined and the full circle was hiked for the first time.
Because half a car won’t get you anywhere either.
Although the 600-kilometer half-Transverzala may had been considered a long-distance trail at the time of its creation, this is certainly no longer the case, as hiking equipment, skills and trail maintenance have advanced. In addition, by walking the circular Transverzala, as was emphasized in the 1950s, one could get to know the Slovenian mountains in their entirety. And among many other reasons, one of the most important is the ability to connect and unify, a characteristic of all true long-distance trails. Such unifying power would certainly benefit a nation with a long-standing internal divide, especially since it was the culmination of this conflict that prevented the establishment of the full Transverzala and consequently its unifying function.
The first suggestion for the route name was Magistrala (motorway). It would be named after the motorways that were promoted by the authorities after the Second World War to connect the nations making up what was then Yugoslavia, to speed up industrial activity, etc. The suggested name did not catch on, precisely because of its allusion to roads and the industry . The Slovenian Mountain Trail was only the second unsuccessful attempt to name the trail, and renowned linguists have quickly pointed out the nonsensical nature of this name: other routes in the Slovenian mountains are not Latvian, pilgrim routes, or roads, for example. In the face of such attempts to rename the trail, Transverzala remained its most widespread name. This is understandable, as the name incorporates some of the core elements of the hiking worldview from both its rational and emotional poles, combining them into a homogeneous whole that constitutes the ethical model for hiking in general and its mountaineering aspect in particular. On the one hand, the term Transverzala suggests the rigorous logic of mathematics (the transversal), other technical sciences and the conservation and scouting movements related to hiking. As such, the name Transverzala harmoniously combines these rational elements with more emotional ones, since its etymology (trans versus) suggests that this path connects individual verses: the paths are like the verses joined into a single poem by Transverzala.
The 1951 proposal for the route and “commemorative” versions of this proposal which are being most often cited, although they only appeared several years after the official opening of Transverzala, hide some surprising flaws of its proponent. Therefore, the proposal was not wholly incorporated even in the first half of the route, established by the beginning of the 1960s. The original proposal (“Pohorje–Uršlja gora–Raduha–Savinja Alps–Karawanks–Julian Alps–Gorenjska–Notranjska–Dolenjska–Kozjansko–Boč and back to Pohorje”) completely skips Primorska, even though this region encompasses an important share of the mountains and despite the fact that it had just then re-joined Slovenian territory after a very unpleasant experience of Italian rule between the two world wars. Similarly, the proposed route from Dolenjska to Pohorje would have made no sense for the following reasons. Firstly, the vast majority of this stretch would pass over a non-mountainous area. Secondly, it would miss a very representative mountainous region, the Sava Hills. And thirdly: even in the 1950s most of this section would have used roads, which runs counter to mountaineering or general hiking principles and does not benefit either health or road safety.
East of the current route, the Transverzala would have run through the Pannonian and Subpannonian regions, where it would be only conditionally mountainous, and only for a few kilometers across the backs of one or two isolated hills. It would certainly be possible to add a valuable extension of the more general hiking tradition further east, starting, say, on the eastern edge of the Sava Hills and continuing in a long loop all the way to Goričko and back. But such a lowland extension of the mountain should, of course, mostly utilise footpaths, tractor roads and cart tracks, not dirt and asphalt roads.
Many of the best and most popular transversals have a completely different route from just a few decades ago. Like the changes to half-Transverzala, these route changes are, of course, intended to improve the route and are examples of how some of its other sections should be improved. Even the half of Transverzala that was missing until recently has several sections that call for improvement.
One of the great ideas behind the Transverzala proposal was that its design must allow anyone to walk it. This would bring the mountains closer to everyone and enable everyone to enjoy all the other benefits these wonderful long-distance trails have to offer. Unfortunately Transverzala was placed into the high mountains in such a way that its technical difficulty makes some of its sections inaccessible even to those with above-average mountaineering abilities. The revised Transverzala now has two or even three variants on such sections while retaining its appeal for the most skilled mountaineers. In accordance with the traditional three-level classification, the three variants are classified as less demanding, demanding and very demanding.
What do the gutsy marmots, the tenacious chamois and the courageous ibex have to do with Transverzala?
Marmots, chamois and ibex are typical alpine animals who are nevertheless close to people. They make for excellent mascots and a compelling invitation to this world and the Transverzala trail. Furthermore, based on the parts of the mountains they prefer, they are a great marker for trail difficulty: marmots will enjoy the less difficult trails, chamois will tackle the challenging routes and ibex will conquer the very challenging ones. And finally, the names of these variants need to express the incredible courage and cuteness of all who tackle the Transverzala in its entirety hence gutsy marmots, tenacious chamois and courageous ibex.
The exact length depends on the variant. The least demanding route measures 1,135 kilometers in length with 65.5 kilometers of total ascent. The most challenging variant measures 1,160 kilometers with 69.5 kilometers of elevation gain. Using the most objective time scale that means the most challenging variant of Transverzala consists of 52 stages, therefore a hiker taking the standard single day of rest per week would need two months to walk it. For comparison, Camino Francés, the most popular route from Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port to Finisterre cape would take 30 days by following the same regimen, while the American Appalachian Trail would take a little over five months.
Because people living in urban centres need transversals in particular. Many of these hikers will also appreciate the fact that they can begin their journey on their doorstep, and will be heading towards their home across the entire length of the trail.
Where are the checkpoints on the new Transverzala and where do I get the passport book for collecting the stamps?
The old adage goes: whoever seeks the stamp will remain empty even after they stamp their passport; but finding the way will leave an indelible stamp. In addition, the full collection of stamps was never the proof that the trail was actually completed. Many had visited all the checkpoints of the half-Transverzala without ever walking the full trail, managing to skip over considerable chunks of the actual trail between the checkpoints. Furthermore, rumour has it that it has always been possible to either buy the passport with all the stamps or pay for the missing stamps. Yet above all, at their root these checkpoints and stamps are incompatible with the ethics and the worldview of mountaineering. After all, they were born at the time when the people in these parts saw themselves, at least unconsciously, as needing to be controlled even in the activities that most express human freedom. As a result, Tranverzala no longer has mandatory stamps and checkpoints. Of course, if someone enjoys stamp collecting that much – perhaps it reminds them of their favourite second-grade teacher, who smiled appreciatively as she pressed a bee or a star into their little notebook – one should get to work by all means. This type of person will enjoy turning a notebook into their trail journal and will continue collecting stamps, remembering that beautiful smile every time. Maybe such a hiker will even compete with others to see who can collect the most? Transverzala website will be happy to publish the name of the current record holder and the current number of recognized stamps from the trail and their list.
Mountaineers have no need to prove things like that. However, anyone who has walked Transverzala is asked to download a survey about their hike and send it at email@example.com for statistical purposes. The statistics will, of course, be published on the website, as will the names of all the ‘Thousanders’, the name proposed for those who have walked the entire length of the route. The name was suggested because they are at least as venerable as thousand-meter hills and because they have walked a route that is more than a thousand kilometres long and quite demanding at that. These ‘Thousanders’ will surely receive a little something as a thank you for completing the form.
Speed records are an exception to the rule that you don’t have to prove that you’ve walked the trail. In line with reasonable practice on other transversal routes, anyone wishing to become the holder of such a record must submit an independently recorded GPS track of their achievement for review via firstname.lastname@example.org. For information on what constitutes an independently recorded GPS track and other questions specific to such a venture, please contact the above address.
Transverzala follows the marked paths almost exclusively and only goes “off-road” on a couple of sections, which are mostly less than a kilometre long. But these are perhaps the most valuable sections, where a brave hiker can enjoy one of the most precious values, the immense freedom where no signs dictate the way which they can take. Here, they have an opportunity to display one of their core abilities, the ability to find a way. Some of these sections must remain on Transverzala even after future improvements are made to its route.