Trip Start Sep 12, 2006
100Trip End Sep 08, 2008
With only 24 minutes between the end of my last class and the last train from Opole to Rybnik, I had very little time to change and make it the few blocks to the train station
We woke early the following morning and left Belk around 9am for Sucha Beskidzka, about 100km to the south east. Given that we had little time, we decided to make straight for Babia Gora (Gora means 'mountain' in Polish), and after a beautiful drive through pine covered rolling hills and past a centuries old castle the 1725m peak came into view. I knew the Beskidy Mountains were much older and less rugged than the Tatras, and I guess I was expecting little more than big hills before I got there. Well, I was wrong! As soon as I saw a huge mountain towering over the others with snow covering the upper and mid reach I didn't need to ask if it was Babia. It looked magnificent, and when Karola's friend Michal pointed out where we would be hiking I was quite excited.
There was one thing going against us even before we began hiking though, and that was the time
Upon reaching the ridge the summit of Babia was in full view, although still some 2km further on. As we climbed higher, the snow became deeper, and a bitterly cold and strong wind made things even tougher for us. It wasn't all bad though, as the wind had blown away a lot of the mist, giving us a spectacular view of the Tatra Mountains, some 60km to the east. It was here I climbed Mt Koscielec on a sunny day six weeks earlier. Karola told me that she had done the hike to Babia on a few occasions, but had never had such a clear view of the Tatras. I wanted to stop and let it soak in, but the wind and fading light meant we couldn't stop for long.
Finding the going a little difficult through the snow, and still between 30 and 45 minutes from the summit, we made the tough decision to turn back
We made it to Karola's parent's house around 6pm, and I was pleasantly surprised with what I saw. I'm not sure what I was expecting, but it wasn't a quaint mountain cottage with a balcony, a warm wood fire and an outdoor toilet! I came to the mountains because I wanted to get away from people, clubs, cities and stress, and I got exactly what I wanted. I loved it! We made plans to climb the 1298m peak of Cyl Hali Smietanowej the following morning, and the rest of the evening was spent downing a few Malibus and chatting away.
I slept in until after 10am, and when I finally rose I was greeted by a stunning view from the balcony of the cottage, looking over the entire Beskidy range. The weather was clear, but very hazy, although we reminded ourselves of the time of year and that we were lucky it wasn't raining or snowing
Our second day's hiking was more successful than the first, as we reached the summit of Cyl Hali Smietanowej around 2pm. It was a pretty steep climb through tall pines and ankle deep snow for the most part, but still rewarding, especially without the hoards of tourists I encountered in the Tatras. The view looking towards Babia Gora from the summit was quite spectacular, if a little hazy, and we stayed here for about half an hour before retracing our tracks back down the hill.
We went back to Belk later in the evening, and I said goodbye to Karola the following morning in Katowice. The train station seemed a little more intimidating when I was alone and sober, than it had when I was with Chris a few weeks earlier and a little drunk! Nonetheless, I made it back to Opole just before 11am in time to prepare my classes for the day. I felt like I hadn't had a weekend at all because I had no free time in Opole, but the time in the mountains was just the break I needed.