Monday, August 09, 2010

High Tatras


A lake in the national park. I love the climbing wall with a backdrop against what is probably some great climbing.

When I was trying to choose pictures for this blog entry, I struggled and believe I have given you too many. Not much focus. I don't know if that is because there are that many great ones or just none of them stand out. I don't think I captured just how beautiful the High Tatras are so it might be the latter. Such is life. This area, though wet, might be the best stuff I have seen yet on this trip.


The castle at Liptovsk√Ĺ Hradok.

I cannot recommend the High Tatras enough. They are beautiful mountains. They are not as high as the Rockies. They are not even as high as the Alps, but they are still wonderful. I am curious what they'd be like in winter. They have a number of ski resorts, but they don't seem to be the world class type of places I know in Colorado or expect the Alps to have. All I know is that it was beautiful.


Strbske Pleso. Check out their footwear!!!

I started on the west end in Liptovsk√Ĺ Hradok. I stopped in for a bite to eat, but received the unexpected treat of some live Slovak music. They had a concert right next to the castle which was brilliant. I heard two bands, one rock and one bluegrass. It was such a treat. Unfortunately, I wanted to get on the road because I thought I had farther to go. I didn't. I biked on, found my spot, and was then a little bored. I should have stayed put enjoying the music instead of heading off by myself to my campsite. Oh well. It was kind of nice to be camp well before dark so I could tidy up my gear. If I was smart, I would have looked at my notes in advance and seen that I had a friend's friend in that town and I might have been able to meet them at the show!


Mt. Rysy hike.


Rysy is 2499m


Mt. Rysy hike.


Mt. Rysy hike, check out the rig the guy has to haul propane(?) up the mountain.

After a great night's sleep through another thunderstorm, I was off to main part of the High Tatras. I rolled into Strbske Pleso. My hope was to do a two day hike with an overnight in a hut. Unfortunately, I wasn't quite sure what to do with my non-hiking gear and there wasn't a great hike available from there. I had read online about the great views from Mt. Rysy and when the information guide told me it was the highest point in Poland, I was sold. The whole point of crossing the Tatras was to get to Poland for pierogies, why not walk in and work up an appetite?


Mt. Rysy hike.


Mt. Rysy hike.


Mt. Rysy hike.


Me on top of Mt. Rysy.

The hike was supposed to take eight hours which would have me finished up at 7pm. I was super excited to be out hiking instead of biking. You just get to see a little more when you are off the road. My legs didn't even seem like they had biked that morning. Unfortunately, some of that excitement got dampered down when the drizzle started. Then, rain. Then, harder rain. Then drizzle, then harder rain. When I crossed the Polish border, I found a hut. They did not have pierogies. I was not pleased. However, there was a party there since everyone was trying to hide from the rain. I thought of turning back but the clouds were only over the Tatras so I hoped it would blow over. There was no thunder or lightning. I hadn't even gotten out my cold weather gear or dry shirt yet.


Mt. Rysy hike.


Mt. Rysy hike.


Mt. Rysy hike.


Mt. Rysy hike.

After another hour, I reached the summit with three other people. I sat down to soak up the views of Slovakia where I had come from and Poland where I was going. Big jagged rocks. Small patches of snow. They remined me a lot of the Rockies, but they were packed a lot closer together. As I was about to leave the summit, the sun started to come out. I retook a few photos with better light and then started down. Then, the sun really came out brightly so I climbed back up to have another look around. It was spectacular. The view just kept getting better and better. I felt super fortunate to have kept going in the rain when I had thought of turning back. It ended up stayed clear the entire way down. I even dried out before I got back to my bike.


The welcome sign to Poland where there are no pierogies.


Mt. Rysy hike.


Mt. Rysy hike.


Mt. Rysy hike.

After my hike, I was ready to find a place to stay. My legs were not happy to get back on the bike. I headed east towards a town I wanted to visit in the morning. The ski resorts were interesting. Some of them looked fancy, but some looked run down right next door. It seems like certain towns have prospered and others used to. I am used to ski towns in Colorado which, if not new, certainly don't look run down. Anyway, I eventually found a cheap hotel. It was full. Then, I found a closed one. Then, an expensive one. It was getting dark so I eventually just said forget it and decided to camp. I woke up to a brilliant sunrise on a carpet of purple flowers.


Finding a campsite dramatization.


Sunrise at Horny Smokovec in the High Tatras.


High Tatras National Park monument at Tatranska Lomnica.


Rice Krispie Treats with caramel and rice cake instead.

The next day, none of my plans worked out. I wanted a rest day with hot springs. All of the hot springs, but one were back west where I had been. There was one to the south that was the opposite direction than I was going. Boo. Then, I was going to take a gondola to the second highest peak in the Tatras. After waiting ninety minutes for the gondola to open, I found out it was broken. They got it working by 1pm the day before, but I didn't want to risk the wait. I left and headed for some caves. They were also closed. Ugh. There was a castle I wanted to see, but it was out of the way. So everything I wanted to do was not going to happen and I didn't have anything planned between the Tatras and Krakow so I just biked the whole thing in one day. Not the best decision. I realized later I could have gone south to the castle and that one hot springs. Oh well. A 140km day was good for me. I remembered what suffering was like. Life is suffering, right Buddhists?


House in Zdiar, Slovakia


The High Tatras backdrop to Zdiar.


Curious to see crumbling hotels next to big ones.


Zdiar.


Zdiar.


Zdiar.

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