With the seven days in Západné Tatry gone, it was time for the short epilogue, the two limestone valleys that are part of ‘Chočské vrchy’ mountain range. It was to be half-day hike so the other half would be for the return journey. After the farewell given by hotel staff, the bus took us to the lower end of the first valley.
Seventh day, the grand finale. With some 127 km already walked in the previous six days, it was surely to be tough goodbye to the mountains. The plan was to get to the fourth highest peak, ‘Baníkov’, and if everything goes well, continue through the ridge through ‘Hrubá kopa’ and ‘Tri kopy’ on what is one of the most dangerous trails in this location with steep drops and exposed rocks all over the place.
The sixth day was to be quite relaxing, at least by hike length. The decision to take the shorter, 14km version was not so much to make it easier, but because the longer version was what I did in 2007, only in reversed direction. This way, I would ascend the peak from a bit different side. For the first time of this 8-day stay, it was ascending the peak right away, then down immediately, and then relax for the rest of the day.
So, the holiday was half-way over. Fifth day, another sunny morning and promise of being one with the wild. In the previous two days I walked through the ‘Jamnická dolina’ and ‘Račkova dolina’ valleys, this day I would ascend the ridge that separates them. Unlike the previous days where the starts was calm, often with two hours of walk through a valley before serious ascension started, this day, it was the opposite and made slightly harder.
After the almost perfect weather in the previous day, the forecast was just as shiny for the fourth one. The plan was to go for the highest peak of the mountain range at 2248 meters and by this day it was likely that the next three days after would go for the second, third and fourth respectively.
The two main prepared options were both similar: ascend through one valley and descend through another, moved by one valley compared to each other. I chose the “easier” one still, but it was almost the same by distance, slightly easier by elevation and for reasons that will be seen later, a very lucky pick.
After a bit painful night, third day came. Due to me feeling still quite stiff, I decided to improvise. I let the fastest group go their way and stuck to the majority as we walked through the valley. The lower portions were mostly deforested – what the windstorms in 2004 and 2014 did not destroy, bark beetle finished and now the diseased trees were harvested to prevent the insects from spreading even more.
After the easier warm-up the previous day, I had something slightly more difficult ahead for the second day: the very long walk towards the ‘Hladké sedlo’ pass on border of Slovakia and Poland, which is (legally) accessible only from the Slovakian side. The reason for it was not just to test my endurance, but the potential sights. From the pass, the ‘Dolina pieciu stawu Polskich’ valley would be visible from bird’s eye perspective, with all its lakes.
Note: right-click (most of) the photos to open 2000x1125px version in new tab.