Tatra Hiking

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