Hiking The Tatra Mountains
Let me take you to one of the most stunning places I’ve been to and one of the hardest climbs I’ve done so far. Imagine a large asphalt road that starts off with a slight inclination; on each side of the road, you have trees and vegetation which seem that haven’t been touched by humans in many years. The walk is a pleasant one.
As you approach a group of people you see that they are all pointing at something in the vegetation, you approach slowly wondering what you might find. You see a brown deer munching on leaves just a few meters away.
As you lift the camera lens up to try and shoot a few pictures, the deer spots you and stops eating. Her dark eyes gaze into yours; you are afraid that you have spooked her. You hold your breath and for a moment the deer seems unsure what to do, then she must notice that you are an alright guy and decide to keep munching instead of running away.
The Tatra Mountains
This was the start of our adventure in the Tatra Mountains. The initial climb was easy and we spotted not only one, but two deer munching on leaves close to the road. The initial walk lasted for around 30 minutes, until we reached a bridge and witnessed a small waterfall – This had been just a taste of the amazing things we were going to see.
Our friends told me that if you follow the asphalt road you would go the most famous location in the Tatra Mountains – Morskie Oko. There were a lot of school trips, but we went to a quieter part of the mountain.
After the waterfall, you reach a big open place with toilets and a pole with directions pointing at different paths. We took a right turn, following the direction of Dolina Pięciu Stawów(Valley of the Five Polish Lakes) – a 2.10 hour climb awaited us!
“Okay… Cool, this should be easy. How hard can a 2.10 hour climb be? After all, this road was quite easy to take.” I think to myself and as we start climbing these sort of steps made of stones. Half way through I start doubting myself as the climb leave us breathless.
We stopped a few times on our hike to catch our breath and to eat something as well. It was impossible not to keep taking pictures both with the camera and the iPhone. Everything looked amazing and worth of capture.
As you follow the stone path nothing else really matters. All your worries, stress and doubts are pushed aside from your mind. You take each step carefully to avoid slipping and you feel your legs pushing the whole weight of your body as they propel you up another step and take you another mile.
There is a stillness and peacefulness in the world around you. You can hear the sound of rushing water somewhere far away, the bustling sound of the wind shaking the leaves up high all around you and the birds chirping happily over your head. Other than these sounds, all you can hear is your footsteps hitting the stones underneath your feet and your quick breath.
A Beautiful Place To Rest
In the past, it was common courtesy to say Szczęść Boże (God Bless), when you crossed paths with another hiker. This term gradually fell into disuse and nowadays most hikers say cześć (hello) or dzień dobry (good morning).
With just 30 minutes to reach the peak, we came to a waterfall with a lot of people. They were taking pictures, having a snack and just resting after a long climb. We took a break, ate something and gathered the courage to face the steep path up to the peak.
If the first hour and 40 minutes of climbing it was hard, the last 30 minutes really left us breathless. The climb is very steep and you need to climb huge steps made of stones that leave your legs shaking with the effort.
Reaching The Top
The climb might not be the easiest, but it’s worth it. Not only you feel good with yourself because you managed to climb up to 1,671 meters, you also get a huge reward – that stunning view. The lake contrasts with the green of the mountains and the white of the snow.
Along the peaks of Tatra Mountains, you have various shelters that offer food, beds, showers, toilets, and wifi. The shelters provide a great protection from the cold mountain air. After climbing for nearly 3 hours we took a seat and had something to eat and drink.
While in the shelter I imagined how beautiful it must be to spend the night here and see the night sky filled with countless stars. You are so high up and away from civilization, that there is no light pollution and you will be able to see the sky properly.
The Difficult Way Down
If the climb was tiring, the way down was exhausting! We took the black path down, this path was harder than the one we took up and it really took a toll on our tired legs. Through the whole way down you have to keep your legs flexed as you try to find a stable base to put your foot. When you finally reach the bottom, your legs will be shaking from the exhaustion.
This was a different way to spend my birthday and I enjoyed every single bit of it. The climb was tiring, but the view amazing and definitely worth it.