So, I’ve decided to try and do my best with describing the 8 days full of hiking that was my holiday. The start was quite unpleasant, some time before I was supposed to be waken up by alarm clock, intense rain did the job quite well. Bah, as long as it stays here and does not move to the east with me, fine. I’ll skip the boring stuff like waiting for the bus and fast forward to maybe 7:15 when the bus stopped at Slovakian border so the driver could load the pre-paid balance that is used as toll on Slovakian main roads. It still rained at that point, even if just lightly. Good thing that the rain was slowly changing into mist, which is slightly less annoying and my gear can deal with it better.
8:50, the bus drops us out in the middle of nowhere on the road leading south from Zverovka, Slovakian village on the west edge of the hills. The first hike is planned to go through path where one would see the white limestone rock formations, but it seems that the only white thing I’ll see today is the ever-present mist.
The trails ascends quite sharply. Poles with numbers tell us every time the elevation grows another 100 meters, first that I saw was probably at 1200. Shortly after 1300, the rock formations should start, but most of the time the visible distance is something between five and twenty meters. There are moments of luck here and there, but it’s mostly grey. At least people with vertigo don’t see the chasm to the right…
The path gets rocky with each meter ascended and becomes harsher with time. The mist gives everything quite spooky feeling.
And the path sometimes requires to use more than just legs.
Eventually, after two hours of ascension through the mist-shrouded rock formations, the first peak of the eight days, ‘Sivý vrch’, is reached at 11:05. I, and the few others with me, prepare to take a bite of whatever we have in our backpacks. Sun shines lightly through the receding mist. Before most of us take a single bite, the weather changes and we’re showered with several rain drops. Hastily we pack our things and start descending only for the rain to stop within minutes. Damn your trolling, weather!
I reach for my camera to take a few shots, but before I manage to take one, it goes back to the mist. Okay, at least not rain. Fifteen minutes later, we stop in a col (or pass, whichever geomorphology term you might like more) to have a snack. Second try works. From there we ascend once more for the last peak of the day, likewise shrouded in mist, followed by steep descent to another pass and then to a chalet.
Many of those who took the shorter version of the hike are already there. We stop for almost half an hour, when the rain returns and we decide that it would be better to be wet down below the hills rather than stay here exposed to the weather. I refuse to play along with the weather, still having only short-sleeve T-shirt despite the weather. Five minutes later, I give up. The rain is not strong or cold, but annoying enough to force me dig into my backpack for waterproof jacket.
Long story short, five minutes later the rain stops again and the jacket goes back into my backpack. From there on, the descent to where the bus will pick us up is uneventful. We eventually reach the destination and go take a bit of rest in the local hotel with still two hours left before departure. In the meantime, another surge of rain comes and goes and I am glad once again to be down and dry while others are still out in the hills, because they did not want to stand around ‘down there’ for too long.
At 17:00, the bus picks us up and carries us to the hotel where we’ll stay for the next seven nights. One hike done, seven more to go. After the dinner, we’re told where to go tomorrow, some short info about the landmark peaks and difficulty of the hikes offered – there are three to five version each day so everyone can choose one based on their strength and skill, a routine that will be significant part of the next days.
Day one (12.8.2017) hike:
Biela skala – Sivý vrch – Bobrovecká Vapenica
Length: ~15 km
Highest point reached: Sivý vrch (elevation 1805 meters)
Weather: mostly mist, ~15°C
Total ascension/descent: 980/1170 meters
Difficulty (personal opinion): medium