These three sites–Russell Cave, Ruby Falls, and Mammoth Cave–represent a range of karst landscapes that played varying historic roles in the southeastern United States. There’s Russell Cave, which provided shelter to people for millennia; Ruby Falls, excavated only in the 20th century and opened as a tourist site, now renowned for its stunning formations and underground waterfall; and of course the incomparable Mammoth Cave, with its seemingly endless trails.
The initial part of the hike involved tramping through a meadow, then climbing up through a mossy forest. Although we did this hike in late March, conditions were still pretty wintry, with snow lying in uneven patches on the ground. Small, interlocking streams wove like ribbons down the mountainside.
It’s worth spending extra time in the area so you can appreciate the incredible natural beauty surrounding Sarajevo. My dad and I love the outdoors, and we did not plan to miss out on hiking in Bosnia. We wanted to get far outside the city and find the best views without getting totally lost. Plus, there are still some landmines in Bosnia, relics of the Bosnian War in the 1990s. You won’t run into any as long as you stick to well-marked trails and roads, but that’s just the thing: we wanted to get off the beaten path. For us, hiring a knowledgeable local guide made the most sense.
I’m lying in snow, 14,000 feet above sea level on a volcano known as Nevado de Toluca, when I feel warm breath against my hand. Exhale, groan, roll over. It’s a dog, come to investigate my motionless form. “Good dog,” I slur and raise a hand to pat her head. Her name is Maya, I think, and she’s been tagging along with our hiking group since this morning.