Ursa - A Week With Specialists For Sailing

Ursa (@ursha.si)

Hello! Who are you and where are your hiking roots?

I live in a country where mountains are just behind the corner and everything is reachable in about an hour or two. My father was a mountain guide, but when I was born he was already deeply in a sailing world, so can’t really say that it was his fault that I fell in love in the mountains.

It started in primary school when I started attending weekend escapes organized by one of our teachers. She was taking us to the mountains by bus or train every second weekend and these are the most amazing memories I have from my 5th grade of primary school.

But if I’m honest, my father is kind of involved in why I started to discover mountains more, it happened in high school when I was sick of sailing and was searching for a reason to escape from it. I found a boyfriend, of course a bit older with a driving licence, who was by coincidence a mountain guide and got a perfect excuse on how to skip the sea and found myself up there in the mountains.

Later on I found another passion, which was and still is mountain biking. I fell in love so deeply, that I even wrote my theses about Mountain biking in protected areas on a case of our national park. So when I’m not finding my peace on foot, I’m searching for it with my bike and lately I try to find myself also in ski touring as winter is still and again my favorite time of the year.

Soriska planina, Mountain bike heaven
Soriska planina, Mountain bike heaven

Being outside for me mostly means an escape from job, gathering with friends and searching for those photogenic moments for which you simply need to go out and be there.

My partner in crime on most of my escapes is Mona, my four legged golden lady. When she was younger she was following me everywhere, being a trail dog, hiking buddy even for the longest hiking expeditions. But now when she got into older age, we hike to keep her fit, but adjust the activities to her, so it is not too much.

She is also trained for search and rescue, which is a big part of our lives, so being fit and active is an added value which we get from the mountains.

Kanin, Slovenian highest ski resort
Kanin, Slovenian highest ski resort 

We are mostly discovering our lovely country, where you can find many beautiful views and paths away from crowded places. But there are places which we always love to come back, such as the northern part of Lago di Garda in Italy and mountain ridge called Velebit in Croatia. My big wish is also to hike one day around Norway or Ireland.

A moment from southern part of Velebit
A moment from southern part of Velebit

What’s your Story From The Mountain?

Was thinking a lot about what to write here and decided to go a bit differently through this topic. This will not be another story about the mountains, but it will be a story from my last year which changed me,  which opened my eyes and changed my way of thinking.

And here’s the story...A few years ago a group of people decided to give a chance to kids with special needs to go on sailing vacations. They set up everything...sailing boats, skippers and supporting team. And this is how the story of making memories started. They have been doing this for several years and this September I happen to be their photographer, they let me be part of their story.

I’ve been working with normal kids as a swimming teacher for years and as a kid, I had the opportunity to spend some time with disabled kids because my mum was working in a school with them... so I thought I’m prepared for everything when I join this year’s special sailing team. 

But no.. I wasn’t prepared at all... I wasn’t prepared that I will be crying like a baby when we are saying goodbye... I wasn’t prepared that they would give me much more than I could give to them... I wasn’t prepared that they are so special that they will leave a footprint on my heart.

This photo project was really special to me. I joined the team a day later when everybody were already sleeping so my first connection with them was first thing in the morning, when my roommate jumped from the bed, took the big radio speaker, put the music on and they all came out from the sailing boats, singing, dancing, saying hello to a new day, to me, as I was new. And this is how it was the whole week. No drama, only good vibes and happy faces!

What I’ve learned this week was a big game changer for me. Was thinking a lot about what was so different, why my emotions came out so intensely. It was because I got there without expectations.

Expectations are usually the ones that kill us, because we expect too much, from people, new location, food,... we think we know everything, but if we would just leave it and let it flow, we would get so much more out of it.

Through hiking/climbing, have you learned anything about yourself or nature you’d like to pass on to others?

I’ve been training volleyball for many years and eventually got injured. It happened that I needed to put professional sport a bit on side due to two knee operations. It took me two years to get back on court.

My rehabilitation took mostly in nature, as the doctor said I need to ride my bike to get back on track sooner. And when I finally got back, it wasn't..  I just couldn’t watch sunsets through the windows of the gim. I decided to quit.

I’ve decided to never go back to professional sports as I need freedom. Professionalism for me means narrow thinking, looking only in one direction. And I believe that this is the only way to succeed in what you are doing. Having focus will bring you far.

Another one from the hills around my hometown
Another one from the hills around my hometown

But this is not me. I want to be all over.  I want to enjoy the mountains, the sea, riding my bike, skiing...I didn’t wanna feel the pressure of constantly competing with someone, with myself…I just want to be there.

I know that this mindset doesn’t bring you far as I will not be able to climb the highest mountain or the toughest route. I’m not training enough to be the best. But I really don’t need to find my limits. Sometimes I will not even reach the top of the mountain, if I get the perfect view before. 

But what drives me the most is taking photos. Finding new views, catching moments, looking for new trails and meeting new people on the way.

Sunrise on lake Bled, one of the photography experience, you can do with me
Sunrise on lake Bled, one of the photography experience, you can do with me 

Being part of the search and rescue team also gives you a bit of a different approach to seeing the mountains. Unfortunately we are learning from the mistakes of others, we see a lot of what happened and what could happen.

So believe me, I don’t wanna be the one calling for my colleagues when I would get stuck somewhere because I didn’t check the weather, lost direction or would not have proper equipment to return back home safely.

A moment when dog finds you under the snow
A moment when dog finds you under the snow

What’s your favorite item in your pack?

This will be a really straight forward answer. :) I will not leave my home without my camera (Canon Eos 6D mk II with universal lense 24-105 mark II) or my phone which became my pocket camera which works also as a cell phone. It’s not just because I'm a photographer, it’s because this is how I make memories.

Photo taken with my camera, while I’m using the phone
Photo taken with my camera, while I’m using the phone

Do you have any advice for other hikers who are just starting out?

I really like to encourage people to be in nature more often. Outside is free and it gives you much more than you can imagine.

But what drives me the most is taking photos. Finding new views, catching moments, looking for new trails and meeting new people on the way.

The best way to start is to join one of the hiking / mountain groups who are having courses and will take you through all the knowledge you need to start this journey. This is also where you will meet new friends and partners in crime to go on the adventures. 

What have been the most influential hiking books, podcasts, or people?

My inspiration is for sure people who dare to live differently. I know how much courage is needed to live a life like that. 

This are people that I like to follow and are inspiring me over and over again:

  • Corel Family - A family guy, a photographer, tour guide, who is traveling around with his family and always finds my next place I need to put to my bucket list.
  • @placesandnotes - A girl with a very interesting story. Traveling around alone with her kid and now living her dreams on new adventures.
  • @romanalilic - Slovenian living in Mexico. Photographer who will always inspire you.

Where’s your next adventure?

My next adventure is exploring Balkans. I’ve been there before, seen many places, but I need to get there now before it gets too popular and too crowded. We will hit the road in the beginning of May.

The idea is to visit places such as Mostar, Jajce, Sarajevo… and also hike in the parks, climb some mountains, but most of all, we will be there to meet new people and feel the vibe of the Balkans.

Trip will be in go-with-the-flow spirit. We are not planning anything in advance, when we hit the road we will see where it will bring us. And yes, Mona is joining us. :)

Where can others learn more about you?

You can follow my journey on Instagram profile: @ursha.si or visit my webpage, where highlights got their place in a blog: https://www.ursha.si/ 

And hey, if you are thinking of visiting Slovenia, feel free to contact me, I can help you out with planning your dream vacation or you can even join me on one of my Photo tours around our beautiful mountains.

Want to share your Story From The Mountain?

Hey, I'm Greg Kamradt, the founder of Terra Mano.

We interview awesome hikers/mountaineers/climbers/photographers and share the stories behind their ambition. By sharing these stories, we want to help others become inspired to reach their goals.

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