We took a train from Budapest (after much difficulty finding theright one) to Poprad in the foothills of the Carpathian mountians.The train went through Eger in Hungary, and Kosice in Slovakia.
People were right about the Slovakian wilderness... a lot of it isstill forested.. and very pretty too.. This was the first glimpse wegot of the Tatras (highest part of the mountain range) as we were headed to Poprad.
Once we got to Poprad, it was a simple matter to take the new electrictrain to Stary Smokovic, one of the bigger towns at the base of the mountains.Accomodation was a problem, but Lucky finally managed to find a placecalled Penzion Vesna, which was a very nice place. Very highly recommended.The owner and his niece (?) was very helpful, and gave us plenty of info onwhere to go hiking and stuff.
The first day there we took a easy hike up the mountain to the first (lowest)Chata.. it was at about 1500m. The way up was pretty easy, and quite scenic too.
Even though it was mid spring, there was a sudden snowfall, which was quitenice.. lucky for us it didn't get too heavy.
There were some pretty good views of the valley and the plains below froma point just above the chata
And since the snow was melting there were streams and waterfalls EVERYWHERE.
The following day we decided to do a more challening hike.. to Teryho Chata, atthe top of the valley, at about 2050m. Paul decided to sit this one out becauseof his bad ankle.. so Lucky and I decided to tacle it ourselves.
The first 2 hours or so was pretty easy. The snowline had moved further upfrom the previous day, and it was melting in fornt of our eyes.. below thesnowline we were walking through a lot of slush.. kind of like a chocolate slurpy.
But once we hit the snow things got interesting.. the path was quite clearfor most of the climb, but it was iced over and quite slippery. So we had thechoice of walking on the ice-slicked path and risk slipping, or walkingon the snow on the side of the path and risk getting stuck in the deep snow.. :)
Lucky for us, we had a pretty decent view to look at while resting..
The last vertical 150m was probably the toughest.. there was a 70 degree climb up the mountain side, and the path was completely snowed over.. probably 5m+ ofsnow in places.. so we had to carefully scramble our way up the incline onour hands and knees. Lets just say it wasn't the easiest.. :)
At the top of the valley there was another 30m climb to the Chata.. thatwas the real killer.. but we finally got there..
One up there, we had some hot food (how the hell do they get supplies up there) andrelaxed for a while before attempting the trip down. There were about 10 otherpeople there who had done the climb too..
We decided to go for a walk to find a lake that was supposed to be aroundthe top of the valley... things are aweful big up there.. that little speckin the middle is Lu.
I finally managed to find the lake.. but only a small frozen section was visible, the rest of it was snowed over.
After some more sitting around, we had a look at the climb down. Lu doesn'tlook too happy at the prospect.
And this is what he was seeing. Our base was all the way down the bottom of the valley,past the trees.
Things were melting even more on our way down.. the snow over the rockswas starting to develop dangerous holes, and the slushy snow didn'thelp either.. the top 200m was probably the toughest, but it flattened outafter that.. There were even some flowers popping up through the snow.
And more flowers.
The streams were flowing faster as well.. though there was still quite a bit of snow around.. this was at about 1700m.
We finally made it back home safely.. very tired though.. Of course after we come back,our host tells us that some 13 people died in the high Tatras last year.. Nice to know. :)