Category Archives: Previous Trips

February 2015 Snow Walking

I was joined on this trip by Oliver Prentice and Phil Russell. My first group that I lead that was not family or friends. I have to admit I was so busy with last minute planning that I was too busy to be nervous about meeting new people and taking them around the Tatra Mountains. Once I actually them in Krakow it was like meeting with friends, the atmosphere between the 3 of us was exciting, interesting ans expectant. We made our acquaintance on the bus to Krakow and by the time we arrived in Zakopane we were talking freely and comfortably.
Whilst out on the snow we discussed many things but something that came up regularly was the review of our chosen footwear and slip on snow grips. In the end their Yaxtrax won out over my Mountain warehouse slip on studs.
Our first day out in the snow was along the Koscieliska valley. This was the first test for our snow grips in which the 2 guys yaxtrax excelled. There were plenty of people about and the atmosphere was very positive. The cold did not do anything to damper peoples spirits. Being just the first day out in the snow, it soon had us huffing and puffing. Getting to the hostel for some hot food was very desirable. The evening saw us in Czikago cafe where the food portions were HUGE and very tasty!
The second day was Morskie oko, that was my single most favourite destination for snow walking. It did not disappoint. The intention was to circumnavigate the lake, to our delighted surprise the lake was frozen solid and we trekked across it. The views were magnificent, frozen waterfalls, snowy overhangs, the majestic snow shrouded Tatra Mountains all around us. For me it was the highlight of the trip. We considered walking up to the next level lake but as we started up a thick fog started rolling in, I asked my companions what they wanted to do, they opted to head back to the hostel. Once there the fog came in thick and fast, for a moment I considered their decision a wise one. After 20 minutes however the fog lifted and shafts of sunlight taunted me by shining on the mountains close to where we were headed.
Day 3 and we headed out along a simple forested trail to Kondratowa via Kalatowki. This days trek had more of an arctic expedition feel as the weather was blustery and at times visibility was close to none. Oliver and Phil seemed to enjoy it as it made a change from the previous 2 days weather. By some mysterious force, as we were feeling like we had had enough of this weather, it stopped and the sun broke through to warm our bones. Many photos were made by all and a few of them can be seen below.
I would like to thank you Oliver and Phil for coming along in what was a very interesting trip.

October 2014 – solo trip

I had no itinerary set for this trip, I just went where my feet took me.

September 2014

This was Anita and Noels 3rd trip with me into the Tatras. When clicking the albums please wait a few seconds as the albums loads full size images

Fancy dress charity hike

June 2014

Long and hard I thought about something different I could do that would be fun, beneficial and something those nearest and dearest to me would be proud of. First I thought about the things I enjoy and how I could use them to benefit others… Well driving cars has been done by everyone so next…playing with my website: an idea was forming. Hiking, hmm…

Eureka! I thought of how I could combine my desire for hiking, my web presence, promoting my groups and charity all in one. A fancy dress charity hike.

At first I couldn’t decide which charity then I couldn’t decide what outfit I would wear. I thought about the people departed from my life who I would like to make proud of my efforts; my Gran, my friend Ted. I decided to raise money for Tapping House Norfolk Hospice. Ted used attend Tapping House once a week, it was somewhere different and enjoyable for him to go and perhaps forget about his terminal illness for a while. The staff there keep the guests entertained, fed etc. Ted would always speak highly of the staff there and even left them a legacy when he passed away.

So in his name I would hike in fancy dress to raise money for his favourite charity.

Next was my outfit, I was back and forth from dozens of ideas but when it came down to it, I had to choose a wolf. Wolves are what first pulled me to the Tatras and it seemed quite fitting.

So that was it! Don a wolf costume, look like a pillock and hike in the mountains, all for charity. My destinations were to be very public. Mt Giewont and the valley of the 5 lakes.

I invited everyone and anyone to join me and at first I had a great response and people did want to dress up too and come along for the fun and raise money their own chosen charities. Unfortunately people started dropping out at then at last minute my last 2 people had to also drop out. It left me feeling bewildered and a little afraid. I was going to be doing all this alone with no support. I am naturally quite shy until I comfortable (quite like a wolf really) so this was going to be a big deal.

Zakopane – guesthouse.
The first day out, I was bricking it. I got dressed up in my outfit, headed downstairs and heard a door open… quickly I ran back to my room; my heart pumping ten to the dozen I stayed there until all was clear. I headed back down stairs to the cloakroom and to my horror there were people still putting on their walking boots! If I didn’t have my face painted in grey face paint they would have seen how red I was from sheer panic and embarrassment. I gruffly told them (in polish of course) don’t laugh at me. Eventually the titters dies away and they asked me for an explanation. I told them and it was really heartwarming to see their reaction. They wished me the best of luck and 5 seconds later their friends came downstairs and the laughing all started again! I started to realise they were not laughing at me as such, just the funny costume. I headed outside…

OMG initially I was trying to walk out of the public view, hoping that not too many people would see me on my way along the streets and into the mountains. Children pointed at me and asked their parents what I was or why I was there. (unbeknownst to be I chose to hike on a childrens public holiday) I remembered why I was doing this… for charity… for my Gran… For Ted. I lifted up my chin and set my shoulders, I wasn’t going to let being shy stop me from doing something that should be fun!

The change was remarkable, I must have exuded some occult confidence as suddenly children were no longer asking what I was and afraid but rather asking their parents if they can follow the wolf. No sooner had I set foot on the first trail I had people stopping me to ask to have photos taken with me. A few people even gave me donations when I explained what I was doing (which I still had to do 100s of times). The top of mt Giewont was amazing, hot and cold in waves. Busy. Fun. The end of the first day, I was tired, a little thirsty and looking forward to a nice shower. The weather was hot and bright. Not even a cooling breeze.

When I was in my room, I couldn’t stop thinking about all the photos that people had taken with me. I felt rather like a local celebrity. When I went later to meet some local friends, the talk of the high street (from what I heard anyway) was of the Tatra wolf or wolves have come back to the Polish Tatras. My grin could have split me from ear to ear.

The second day, I was not so timid but neither was I much interested in taking a bus all dressed up to get to my destination. From near Morskie oko I started on a trail to the valley of 5 lakes. I kept wondering when a good time to don my outfit would be, nothing presented itself. When I was approx 10 minutes from the lakes, I went off the track to have myself a picnic. I found a boulder surrounded by grass and stunted mountain pines and enjoyed the sun and my lunch. I put on my outfit and made my way to the trail. As I broke through the bushes I made a picnicking couple jump half out of their skin! It was a great moment. This day passed pretty much like the first, photos galore but less children. I just wish I had more time to actually walk around the lakes, the sun glittering of their surface and the sounds of the babblings mountain streams is enough to relax anyone.

Back at my room I pondered all the little things that had happened whilst out on the trails: Turning blind corners and making women jump, parents asking me to growl for their kids, girls telling me I looked sweet and wanting to pull my ears or my tail (oo er!) the 100s of photos and posing people wanted to do with me. It was great! In that moment I decided I would like to do something similar again should the opportunity present itself.

I raised £254 for charity. Would I have liked to raise more? Sure I would have but the main thing is.. I think Ted would be sitting on his cloud and feeling proud of me…when not rolling around kicking his heels in laughter at me…

The Tatra wolf will return 🙂

see photos here – Photos

My first Rysy Climb

Rysy Rysy Rysy, oh how I felt accomplished and destroyed at the same time! June 2012. I had hiked quite a few different trails in the Polish Tatras but something was nagging at me. Initially I wasn’t interested in Mt Rysy. I was more interested in the valleys, lakes, streams and forests. Rysy was simply that tall mountain that looms over the Morskie oko lake.

The nagging was the same questions over and again; it is Poland highest peak and borders Slovakia, should I just do it? Can I do it in one day? Is it easy to organise? It is safe to say that good old curiosity got the better of me (and nearly killed the cat!) I decided I would look into it and plan something for the later in the season. As it turned out, it was fairly easy to organise, I pored over my maps to get an idea of how long it should take to ascend and descend. I then bought my plane tickets, reserved my room in Zakopane and a bed in the hostel at Morskie oko for 2 nights.

In september 2012 I made my way to the hostel (and the popular starting point for the Rysy hike). The atmosphere was great! The guys I shared the dorm with spoke English (in a fashion) and were seasoned hikers. They insisted I need some Polish medicine to give me strength to hike up the mountain. This medicine came in the guise of various flavoured vodkas! I don’t generally drink much alcohol and I tried to refuse. But try as I might, I succumbed to their offers and drank the medicine. I had nut, herbal, clear and cherry vodka. After about 5 or 6 shots I insisted that I drink no more as I intended on an early start in the morning. Grudgingly the guys relented and let me sleep.

5am the next morning, the rustling of sleeping bags and backpacks, the jingle of camping mugs and the whispering of my room-mates woke me. I briefly looked at my phone for the time and went back to sleep, intending to wake up at 6am. Well, 6am came and went (thanks snooze!) I finally crawled out of bed at nearly 8am! Very groggy from the medicine. I got suited and booted, drank coffee in the dinner hall and began my hike by about 9am. My best laid plans already gone to pot. I had calculated that I needed 9 hours to attain the summit of Rysy and get back to the hostel and hoped for the early start so that I had plenty of daylight hours.

At first I was walked at a leisurely pace, around the lake and to the foot of the mountain. Looking up I must admit, it was a little bewildering (for me anyway) but decided time was against me and to get a move on. Suffice to say that it was kind of a blur on the ascent. I stopped to take photos but didn’t really stop to eat or drink. I did this on the go. Dried ready to kabanos sausages and water kept me going.

Approx 3/4 the way up I saw a small queue of people. Looking at images of Rysy on google told me that there was a chained via ferrata section of Rysy but I assumed it was a short section just like on Mt Giewont. It was actually the best part of an hours work to climb that section. I gained the summit of the Polish section of Rysy and what a view! It was strange and also a first time for me to be stood on the trig point of a highest point of a country and to straddle a border of 2 countries. There were more people ascending the summit from Poland than there were from Slovakia. I saw everybody congratulating each other over their feat of energy and stamina. It was a demanding little climb!

I looked over to my left…what was that over there, a few people sitting on a boulder higher than I was! Oh yeah I remembered! Rysy has a few peaks and them being on either side of the border. The Slovakian peaks are a few meters higher than the Polish peak. Ha! I want to go higher, the problem was there is no defined trail and it was literally a mad scramble over rocks and boulders to get there. After 10 minutes of banging my shins against rocks and sliding about on my backside I got there! I was higher than the people standing on Poland’s highest point! I congratulated myself with a swig of water and my packed lunch. I was a nice sensation to be sitting with my lunch at the same altitude as the flying little birdies which were twittering away all around.

I am not one for sitting around somewhere for too long and soon began my descent, although now I wish to explore these places in more detail but also take to the time to fully absorb my surroundings. I came to to the chained section again. My heart skipped a beat, I was already starting to feel tired from the hike up. Using the chains to go down was trickier (for me anyway) but once I got past them I started bounding down the mountainside. I came to a switchback section where the trail literally hooked more than 90 degrees to the left, unfortunately my backpack didn’t wish to stop as quick as me to make the turn and I was literally pushed by its momentum to the edge of the mountain! My arms windmilled like crazy and I was tiptoeing on a precipice of a very steep drop! With almost a thump the weight of my backpack settled and brought my heels back to the ground where I quickly back pedalled to safety. My heart was thumping in my chest and my breathing erratic! I escaped a plunge to certain death! I took a look around to see if anyone has witnessed my stupidity and sure enough there was a guy smirking away at my misfortune.

I slowed my bounding down to something resembling more of a quick march. It also gave me the chance to actually look around and see the views! The hostel by the lake was just a dot. The lake was a shimmering jewel amongst the Greys and Greens of the mountains. I was amazed by the beauty of it pretty much the whole way down. By the time I got to Morskie oko I knew there was only 30 minutes of hiking left around the lake back to the hostel. I slowed down somewhat and really started to appreciate the fresh air, the cool breeze, everything.

I arrived back at the hostel in the almost twilight, the sun had not actually sunk yet but was hidden behind the peaks surrounding me giving that twilight effect. I stopped in the dinner hall to drink a cup of tea (I am British after all!) I congratulated myself when I checked the time. A hike that should have taken me the best part of 9 hours had only taken me just over 7 and a half! I had smashed the trail times! Well done me. I got up to go to my room and get freshened up and realised my folly. The fast paced hiking and taken its toll already. My legs didn’t move! I actually panicked for a second but then I managed to get them working again. My legs were a lead weight. Painfully stiff. I all but hobbled up the main staircase, clutching to the banister to help pull me up. Every upward step was like a mini Rysy! It was funny for the other guests there, pointing and smiling in a knowing way. A few even asked me… “Byles na Rysy tak?” You were on Rysy yes? I grinned and told them yes.

Well, suffice to say that getting back to my bunk and getting showered took me forever. I almost felt rejuvenated and went to the dinner hall. I drank a celebratory lager (or 2.) Going outside the sun had officially set by then and I was amazed and stunned into immobility by the colours and light playing off the lake. I instantly fell in love with this location. I sat just taking it all in until dusk finally started giving way to night. The effects of 2 pints of lager gave me incentive to stop complaining about my stiff painful legs and off I went for an evening jaunt around the lake. I was aware all the time of how alone I was; hiking at this time of night is against the rules. I stopped about a quarter of the way around the lake and found a big rock a few meters out into the water to sit on and looked back at the hostel. It was like something from an oil painting! I sat there with my camera snapping photos away trying to make the camera immortalise what I was looking at.

Back in my room, I was laying on my bunk when new room mates arrived. we regaled each other with our stories of the day. Theirs was far more interesting, they had been wild camping in slovakia and came across what they thought to be wolves watching them make camp. They abandoned their tents, grabbed their back packs and fled. All in darkness. Later they went running from the dorm excited. I was still too numb from the waste down to move from my bed. When they returned, they told me everybody had gone rushing off to watch a bear catching fish in the river behind the hostel. I missed out on that!

I got up the next morning with very wobbly legs and left Morskie Oko and Rysy. Little did I know at the time that I would be back. In an even more challenging situation…

August 2013 – small group

Anita and Noels 2nd outing with me in to the Tatra Mountains

June 2012 – first small group outing

Anita and Noels 1st sojourn to Poland