Kravica Falls, Bosnia: A father & son microadventure
On the way to Medjugorje we have an option to make a detour to an exciting sounding set of waterfalls. The mission has all the makings of a good microadventure... a clear goal, a bit of challenge and a rather vague set of directions. But not everyone is up for more adventuring in heat and hills, not when there’s a lazy river to swim in just behind us. Although one person is particularly keen to carry on…
71 characters of direction
One SMS. Containing 71 characters of directions. It’s all we have.
“270 deg waterfalls are called KRAVICA (fon. craveetsa) outside Studenci.”
I’m not sure it’s enough for us to find the place. Kirstie is certain it isn’t.
“Where exactly is it on the map?” she asks, pushing her bike up to where Cameron and I are resting, at the foot of a gravel strewn hill.
The map shows the hill, a road and some trails leading down to a river. But there’s nothing marking a set of waterfalls. And only cicadas to ask for directions.
“You don’t know where it is do you?” she says. “It could be miles. Uphill. In the heat. It might not even be here.” She drops her bike in a puff of dust.
Of course she could be right. But it might be at the first trailhead. It might be a cool and invigorating to swim. It might be like Niagara. I say nothing. It’s an old familiar tension; turning back versus pushing on, caution versus recklessness, pessimism versus optimism. And I don’t really want an argument.
“Can’t we just go and play in the river back there?” asks Hannah. “We just passed some little waterfalls.”
She’s right. And much as it goes against the grain, I’d be happy to turn back in this heat. But not everyone feels the same.
“I really want to go,” says Cameron. “Mike says it was like Niagara Falls, and I really, really want to swim in it.”
I smile inside. I sense an opportunity.
A father and son adventure together
It is a long, hot climb up the hill but it’s much easier without nay-sayers. We’re a team of two, tied together in sweaty harmony by the chain of the tandem.
It’s fun to ride this way with Cam again. He’s been riding solo this year and while I love to see his independence grow, I miss the social intimacy of riding tandem with him. In years gone by he felt like a passenger on the back but now I sense strength and contribution. Riding solo has taught him the reality of climbing hills on a loaded bike and, like me, he is enjoying sharing the pain.
“Dad,” he says between clutches of breath, “it’s nice to get off my own bike. And SO nice to ride without panniers.”
We’re riding commando style; light and fast. Our only load, swimming trunks. We may not know exactly where we’re going but we have imagined it. We know we WANT to get there, and we know exactly what we want to do WHEN we get there. Vision. Passion. Goal. Trunks. We’ve got all we need for an adventure. And it feels good.
Don’t go chasing waterfalls
For a while. But there’s no point in the trunks without the waterfall. And it’s really not obvious where it is. The hill flattens out. We pass woodlands, a house, a farm, a hamlet. We stop and wipe sweat from our brows, swig water and peer at the map. We search for trails, look for signs, find nothing and wonder if we should turn back. But we both agree we can’t.
We ride on, discover a motorway under construction and ride down it to a dead end. We know we are close now. We can hear the river but can’t find the trail. We retrace our steps and find a stony track. The track becomes a trail. The trail narrows then becomes steep and unrideable. We walk on, holding back the tandem as it slides on loose stone, then steep mud and sand. An abandoned towel and lonely flipflop encourage us on. And on. And on.
“You know we’ll have to push the bike all the way back up this,” I say.
Cameron turns, looks and smiles. “It’ll be worth it.”
A really good adventure
“Was it worth it?” I ask as we push, heave and haul the tandem back up the hill in a rush to get back to the others before they call out a search party.
“It was fun,” he says.
“Even with all the wrong turnings, not knowing if we’d find it and with no money for ice cream?”
“That’s what makes an adventure Dad. Apart from the bit about the ice creams.”
That’s my boy.