A good day's hiking
Trip Start Sep 12, 2006
100Trip End Sep 08, 2008
I didn't have any major goals for the day, so I simply traced out a route on my map which I thought we could complete in the 7 hours or so of daylight we'd have. We began at the small village of Stary Smokovec, and made our way on foot for an hour up an icy road to Hrebienok, a popular site for skiers. Given it was a monday, we weren't surrounded by tourists, but instead hundreds of school children. We squeezed our way past them and after a brief stop at the Bilikova Chata we continued onto a different trail soon after midday
From here on the scenery was utterly spectacular. A huge dump of snow left the trail, trees and stream completely covered in ice, and with the bright blue sky above it made for some excellent photos. We stopped for a while at the frozen waterfall known as Razcestle Vodopady before continuing on through the forest. The suns rays filtered through for the most part, meaning we found it difficult to maintain a constant temperature. Coats off, gloves off, gloves on, coats on, and so on.
After reaching a second frozen waterfall we passed some paw prints in the snow before coming upon one of the best views of the day, a look up Velka Studena Dolina, a spectacular valley snaking its way through the High Tatras. It was of a much grander scale than the valleys I'd seen in the Polish Tatras, and with the stunning weather and complete lack of people traversing the trail it was very easy for us to stop and let the views sink in for a while.
A little further on we reached Zamkovskeho Chata, a mountain lodge where we stopped for lunch and a rest after a climb of about 500m. Some prayer flags adorned the balcony, but they didn't quite strike me the way they did in Sikkim when I saw them fluttering on mountain tops more than 4000m above sea level
My plan was to hike a further hour to Skalnate Plese, and then work our way back down the mountainside to the town of Tatranska Lomnica where we could get a train back to Stary Smokovec. I wasn't sure we'd have enough time, but neither of us wanted to retrace our steps so we continued on, upwards and eastwards towards the next lodge. This was the most difficult part of the days hike, as we were walking in soft, foot deep snow on the side of a steadily sloping peak. The views of the north of Slovakia towards the Nisky Tatry and Slovensky Raj were spectacular though, and it felt as if we looking down on the townships from the clouds. Upon reaching Skalnate Pleso we gazed up at the tiny gondola making it's way up to the observatory on Lomnicky Stit, the second highest mountain in the Tatras at 2634m. It would have been great to have gone all the way up, but it was no cheap exercise, and given the time it would take we probably would have missed the sunset anyway. Thus, we reluctantly gave it a miss.
By this stage we had pretty well realised we weren't going to make it to Tatranska Lomnica before dark, but we decided to make a go of it anyway, following the ski trail almost directly down
It was a great day's hiking, thus completing a very full two days in Slovakia. We were heading back to Poland the following day though, via the northern part of the Spis region and another castle. Although we'd seen so much in our short time, I knew I'd only scratched the surface of the Slovakian side of the Tatras, and would have to return at some stage.