In October 2019, my boyfriend and I went on a little trip through the Saxon Switzerland National Park. After exploring this part of Germany and Czech Republic, we kept driving towards Poland and its part of the Tatras Mountains: a mountain range that forms a natural border between Slovakia and Poland. It’s now an area protected by the UNESCO in Poland and Slovakia as the Tatras National Park. These mountains are quite similar to the Alps but much smaller.Jeetees
We began our first adventure in Štrbské Pleso, a lake on the Slovakian side from which we started our hike towards Rysy, a mountain in the crest of the High Tatras. This is in the eastern part of the Tatra Mountains, lying on the border between Poland and Slovakia.
My First hiking experience EVER.
And I chose the highest summit of the Tatras Mountains! But it was one of the most insane trips of my life. The landscape kept changing, from rocky grounded forests till rivers or from woods till rocky hills… We were mesmerized by this wild and diverse environment.
What I appreciated was how well indicated the path was and therefore how secure it felt. The hike was not too demanding, but it was certainly longer than expected. Once we arrived at Žabie plesá, a small lake at the bottom of the last climb, the view was unlike anything I had seen before.
I was standing above the clouds, speechless.Jeetees
Trying to give off an air of cool, but on the inside my fear of heights was certainly leading me to question what I had gotten myself into. Although, never one to shy away from a challenge, and one who rarely gives up, I was determined to push through… Let’s go!
We kept the hike going until Chata pod Rysmi, a small refuge built in 1933. There was our comfortable reward, a warm wood fire, a hot chocolate and a mars bar. Having regained some strength, we put our jackets back on and re-emerged from the warm, where we were greeted by a wonderful sunset.
But we quickly realized that night was fast approaching and we had to start the journey down before it was too dark and therefore too dangerous. We had to turn on our flashlights and finish the hike in complete darkness, but we made it.
This was also part of the adventure I guess, made even more so by the fact that I’m afraid of the dark. It was crazy but we made it safe and sound and exhausted to the car, still in shock of what we had just overcome.
The next day, we left Zakopane downtown and parked the car at the entrance of the hike to Giewont, a mountain massif in the Tatra Mountains of Poland.
We thought it was easy
The hike started easily on a large path in the woods followed by a light ascension in between the snow covered pines.
The fearsomeness of the wood had been a good bit rubbed off for me by Master Case’s banjo-strings and graven images, yet I thought it was a dreary walk, and guessed, when the disciples went up there, they must be badly scared. The light of the lantern, striking among all these trunks and forked branches and twisted rope-ends of lianas, made the whole place, or all that you could see of it, a kind of a puzzle of turning shadows. They came to meet you, solid and quick like giants, and then span off and vanished; they hove up over your head like clubs, and flew away into the night like birds. The floor of the bush glimmered with dead wood, the way the match-box used to shine after you had struck a lucifer. Big, cold drops fell on me from the branches overhead like sweat. There was no wind to mention; only a little icy breath of a land-breeze that stirred nothing; and the harps were silent.
Then we walked along the cliff in the fog, not really able to see far ahead, which gave me a spooky feeling. I think we were a bit more prepared this time than the first.Jeetees
All the way to the top this time
After a few plateaus and some breaks, we started to ascend the last metres. And, with the help of some metal chains and a lot of courage, we were at last standing next to the cross at the top.
It was the best feeling ever, a mix of pride, amazement and fear. Suddenly the clouds were clearing and I could truly appreciate the view and how high up I was.
And that’s when the clouds decided to go away…
The way back was easier than I thought, almost because I felt lighter to have succeeded. We had a lot of time in front of us before the night fall and we took it.
Also, thanks to the cleared sky, we enjoyed a nice surprise: The view of the hike down! We were not expecting that.