|Glimpse of the area from the bus. That's not our hotel.|
|The views from the road were stunning.|
First thing we did after leaving our backpacks in the room was to investigate a couple of flat rocks in front of the hotel, which looked like they might house ants underneath. And indeed! first one we flipped had a Myrmica colony underneath, reddish ants that went into a frenzy of activity, hiding away their brood from our intrusion. We decided to leave them be for now and dig them up later, opting for a late afternoon walk around the area instead.
The climate here was dramatically different than the one we had just left behind - day temperatures did not go above 11-12 degrees Celsius, and drizzling rain was a common occurrence. But the air was crispy and fresh, smelling of resin and woodsmoke. As we were there between the summer high season and the winter ski season, there weren't a lot of people around. The road had its fair share of cows and shaggy dogs however.
|Bork bork bork at first, but afterwards friendly.|
|There were lots of colourful shrooms all over.|
I had studied the map of the area beforehand, and had big plans of day-long hikes in the mountains. Stroomschok had dreams of meadow ants and carpenter ants. In the end, we compromised by hiking into a valley that was more than 300 meters lower in altitude than the resort, hoping to find some colonies that hadn't gone into hibernation yet. My cousin and her husband came along, with Stroomschok doing his best to pass along the anting bug to them. We poked at a few rotten logs, flipped a few rocks, but the ants remained elusive. We did spot several lone Camponotus workers crossing the logging road, but we weren't able to track their nest.
|Dark pine forests on all sides.|
|Some nice play of light in the trees on our way back.|
Our mega-hike done, in the following days we took shorter walks around the area, always on the lookout for ants. We found two more colonies (not counting the one in front of the hotel), and antnapped them as well. By this time our ant collection was growing quite sizeable, and we thought what reaction the housekeeper would have if they'd come to clean our room and see the tubes and bottles and boxes full of bugs. Fortunately, it was off-season as I mentioned - so no housekeeping.
|Stroomschok looking for ants.|
|Lone oak tree.|