In Lesser Poland we immediately started to look for the High Tatras which pop out behind some round hills, 100km away from the old capital. In Zakopane just a quick pop round to the supermarket in order to fill our backpacks with food.
The sun was high and camping was forbidden, but we didn’t have many choices if we wanted to stay in altitude. The paths are well marked, they have different colours – black, red, yellow, green and blue – but we still have to understand their level of difficulty.
At 1600m there is snow and we would slide on the path in the mornings. A Polish guide with his ski on the shoulder told us it was still a good time for ski mountaineering.
We spent two nights surrounded by crowns of peaks between 2100 and 2600m, with a round moon which illuminated our tent and the avalanche around. Our legs were running in, the adventure was still long and speaking with Rafaeł, a guy of the Tatra’s Rescue Team, we understood that the weather was going to be bad in the following days, so it would have been better if we went back to the valley.
Polish people don’t have many mountains in the country, so both the experts and the amateurs go to the Tatrzanski Park Narodowy, getting higher the level of risk. Hitch-hiking was not easy there, only elderly couples who go from a village to another or curious young people stopped and gave us a ride.
We’ve been doing a zigzag on the Polish-Slovakian border for a few days, along the Carpathian ridge and except for us, crossing the little columns with the P and the S marks, there was not a soul on paths in the woods. We met the Lemki, an ethnic minority, most of them are Orthodox and of small height which inhabit and live together in these passages away from the big crowds along with Jewish and Catholic people.
The area was full of wooden churches which look like sailing ships. Under the protective light of a front lamp and a never-ending rain we crossed the border again and exhausted we knocked on the door of Miki and Helena’s house, a couple of Slovakian Lemki who hosted us for the night. We drank a good rakja and slept in a dry place.
That first experience in Poland was not easy, but unforgettable and full of adventures. Fortunately, ioMerino wool was with us, so we hiked comfortably and warm, arising curiosity to all the people we met.
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