Four seasons in one day

Vysoke Tatry Travel Blog

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I hate snow! That may seem like an odd statement to make in june, but if you have ever been to the High Tatras at this time of year you will understand. It may have been summer down in the valley, but up above the tree line it was still winter. I previously had little experience with snow and even thought I liked it, but after having been knee deep in the stuff, slipping and sliding constantly, having fallen through a thin layer of decaying snow and down a waterfall, gotten my foot stuck in it and witnessed an avalanche and a guy with a broken hip being transported to Poprad hsopital by helicopter, I realize the error of my ways.

Graham and I started our tour in Tatranska Javorina, a tiny village near the Polish border, where we stayed above the local restaurant (which seemed to own only 1 CD - Phil Collins over and over again: the horror, the horror), from where we took the green trail (aka the goat trail) south.

It's a long lonely (we met 4 other hikers and a woodcutter) trail that starts out easy and then gets gradually harder, culminating in a tough climb to the summit of sedlo Sedielko (this is where I fell down the waterfall), and an even tougher, extremely steep descent - probably the only thing made somewhat easier (or at least less painful if sliding down on your bum is your tactique) by the snow, and then leads onwards to the Teryho and Zamskovskeho huts. We had intended to get to the latter, but considering the circumstances we were glad to even make it to the former. Dorms, itchy blankets, no showers or drinkable water, flushing the toilet with a bucket of water, no electricity, "hut tea": in short, loads of fun. Seeing the hut made me a bit too brave, so I stept on a bad patch of snow, sank in and got my foot stuck.
Luckily Graham was there to dig me out with his bare hands. (I almost had to return the favour in view of Rysy hut, but the snow was not thick enough to get truly stuck there)

Having fallen behind schedule on the first day made our walk on the second day (the last bit of the green trail and then the red trail - aka Tatranska Magistrale aka the grandma trail - west to Popradske lake) really long and generally exhausting, though after our experience the first day, the zigzaggy trail down to Popradske pleso (which I absolutely loathed 2 years ago) was a piece of cake. And I finally got to see one of the infamous goats, though this one didn't seem quite as bloodthirsty as Graham and Andy had led me to believe they are. It was nice to stay in a big hotel-like hut for a change, where I got to shower, wash my hair, have a nice meal and even meet some Flemish people.

Next up was Rysy, the highest mountain in the Tatras with a foothpath leading to the summit. Despite the snow we reached the hut just 250 m below the top in good time. Chata pod Rysmi makes Teryho chata seem like the Hilton, so we love it! We decided not to go further. We have climbed Rysy twice before and will do it again, but preferably in less snowy conditions. So we spent the afternoon in Rysy hut, drinking hut tea, beer, vodka and rum and trying everything on the food menu. And in the evening we got to see what happens when one stupidly tries to clamber up some icy rocks on the way to the toilet: it all ends in a red helicopter down to Poprad hospital.

The next day we walked down to Strbske Pleso, one of the resort towns, and took the chairlift to Chata pod Soliskom, another fairly basic hut (but with a shower) where we were the only guests that night. We climbed Solisko from there, which was a waste of energy - I am now officially a mountain snob - it was just like going up the stairs, and the views weren't even that good. In the evening we watched football on a small black & white TV, together with the owner of the hut and one staff member, and were all pleased to see the Czech Republic beat Holland 3-2 after an exciting game.

On our last day we walked down to Strbske Pleso again and took the train to Poprad, which seemed like a strange place after the mountains. The supermarket was infernal: all those choices!

It was an interesting and adventurous experience, but we now know that september really is the only good month to go hiking in the High Tatras. Goodbye mountains! I will see you again soon, maybe even this year on my way back?

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Vysoke Tatry
photo by: esvobod