Well, who yet didn’t know that we are no homebodies? I’m afraid that our family inherited some ancient gene of the exploring migrant. And if we’re not getting used to a new country or new home, then at least we’re traveling that same country.
For example, we had just returned from two-week hike through the Northern Spain in the end of July, where we walked 354 km by the Camino de Santiago (Way of St. James). And it seemed like it was enough of hiking and active lifestyle for some time. We could have sat and enjoyed the comfort of a city flat (but it’s also an issue – we’re renovating). But no! Again on the road…
To say the truth, we didn’t reckon our planned walk in the High Tatras as an extreme hike. “14 km isn’t that much” we thought, tempered by everyday treks of 20-25 km. So, we set off…
We went by car at first. High Tatras are situated in the north of Slovakia, two hours away by car from Žilina, where we live. The goal was to see the glacial lake Štrbské pleso. It’s the second largest lake on the Slovak side of the High Tatras. A place of exceptional beauty: mirrorlike lake, surrounded by forests and mountain peaks. A place equally popular in summer and in winter.
We visited this place many times in winter. And saw the lake chained with ice. Now we wanted to see the surface of the water and the reflections in it. As well as take a walk.
The weather forecast promised something around +15°C and overcast. In fact it came to be +9°C with rain and dense fog. We got out of the car, dressed in fleece and wind jackets and started walking. It was, to say the least, uncomfortable and the idea of postponing it to the better times crept to mind. But intensive walking warmed us up quickly. As well as mountains and forests in the fog turned out to be mystically astonishing.
All that we would see clearly if the weather was fine was getting lost in white dense haze: shapes of mountains and cliffs were barely recognized, brooks flowed from unseen sources, and trees appeared as ghostly silhouettes of giants.
You only had to walk a little higher up the hill and the remaining forest underneath drowned in the sea of milk. Only a minute earlier visible landscapes vanished, as if the never were there.
We were walking by the wrapped in fog trail for around an hour, until we climbed the altitude on which a chilly wind drove away tatters of clouds and the world became distinct.
And we saw very distinctly that we were going to walk up, by the rather steep slope. We walked up and saw two glacial lakes. Such lakes are called “pleso” in Slovakia. We rested a bit, warmed ourselves with tea and began climbing higher – to the pass called “Bystré sedlo” (2341 meters above sea level).
At this moment came realization that walking without ascending and a hike by the rocky surface climbing almost 1000 meters are very different kinds of walks. And 14 km are sometimes harder to overcome than 30. I made a deal with myself – to rest after at least 50 steps in order to not stop completely. And it being without the backpack.
Closer to the peak wind became ice-cold, hands hurt from coldness. Long and slowly we reached the pass. Squeezed into the crevice in the mountain range and started walking down cheerfully. We were happy to see the beautifulness on the other side of the mountain range. Two more glacial lakes appeared as we descended – Vyšné Wahlenbergovo pleso and below Nižné Wahlenbergovo pleso.
Descent was much easier, but only in the beginning. Because after all we had the same drop ahead of us – from 2341 meters to 1355 meters. To the altitude where lake Štrbské pleso lies. Amazingly, but weather began to change right after the pass. Sun was peeping through the clouds, and after half an hour we were pulling off our warm clothes and enjoyed sun-drenched panorama of the valley.
We reached the end of our journey – lake Štrbské pleso, when the sun started putting on gold on the firs’ tops. It was pure beautiful.
Everybody was tired and hungry. Even our dog settled down for a nap every time we stopped, and wasn’t running around in search of new scents. After physical fatigue silence came to head, feelings of peace came to soul.
Maybe, it’s what we’re looking for during these walks. 🙂
Slovakia is a small Eastern-European state. It’s so small that you can cross it from east to west by train in a little more than 5 hours. Nevertheless, one can explore Slovakia “into the depth” infinitely. You can read about the unique places, which we visited in this little land here and here. Enjoy the reading and the journeys!