POLAND - SLOVAKIA  2009




Mural mosaic from the communist era on a wall in the heart of Poprad.



From Zakopane we traveled by minibus to a skii lift which took us all the way up to an altitude of approximately 2000 meters above the ocean.





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On our decline, which lasted for over four hours, we had to take it nice and slow because of Carina's transplantation which she had done to her left foot long ago. Conseq- uentially we felt almost like two old freight carriers as young people literally bounced and leaped past us equipped with their immaculately fabricated trekking shoes and mountaineering clothing!





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Here I'm taking advantage of two Polish tourists to make it look like I'm one in the gang, just for the sake of this photo, silly old me! And quite honestly, apart from the breath taking  beauty and  tingling silence of the high Tatras, I felt more like a snail than a mountain climber on this, our staggeringly slow descent!





As if it wasn't enough, we took on an even more adventu- rous hike into the Tatras mountains about half a week later! By this time we had crossed the Polish border into the north eastern part of Slovakia and made the town of Poprad our new residency.




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The wild and rugged beauty of the mountains was on that particular evening draped in gray inveigling mist while the higher we went, the more the rain pelted down on us.





Mile after mile we picked our way through one valley after the other, always with the streaming waters rushing by in rapids close at hand to help us navigate our way back down.




That night we could easily have lost our way in the wilderness had we strayed off from our path and chosen another direction.





Although they're a fascinating sight, these toadstools certainly didn't look a treat!





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Then after having returned all soaking wet to Poprad, dripping all over the red carpet of a Chinese restaurant and finally jumping into bed, we woke up the next morning immediately deciding to have a second rendezvous with the same wild forests to take some better photos and to have the opportunity to enjoy the landscape in day light.





But also it felt nice to be back up in the fresh, cool air of the mighty Tatra mountains.





Here are some photos showing parts of the devastation caused by that major storm.






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Thousands of acres of flattened woodlands.





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View facing the mountains from the town of Poprad.






Looking beyond Poprad towards the mountains.



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We were very fortunate to have such sunny weather and could see for miles and miles across both Polish and Slovakian territory, gazing down at myriad's of mountain lakes and admiring the mighty Tatras peaks when facing south or south east.





However, if you check out the condition of some of the tracks, as seen here on this image, you can easily understand that it is a bit of a chal- lenge for senior travelers like us!




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The sun was going down and so were we as, on our journey back to the lower world, we followed along steep, meandering trails which led us on top of tretiorously narrow cliffs, down into gorges and eventually through wild coniferous forests. Although all the young climbers rushed past us at an incredible speed, there were a few who obviously had gone over their top and had great difficulties in taking those few, last serpentine miles down to the waiting mini buses below, some with sprained ankles or injured knees, others just being overly fatigued by the looks of it.





On a rainy day we took a local train up to Smoky Starovic and then a cable train further up into the foothills of the Tatras.




Lured by the beauty of the rapids and the waterfalls of a river that plunges down the densely forested  slopes of this part of the hills, we chose not to take the road back to civilization but started to work our way through the woods by following a serpentine trail leading us down almost endlessly.




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And after walking in the rain for more than two hours with hardly any sunlight to guide our way, we finally made it down to a solitary hotel where the staff told us we were lucky to have arrived at that moment and not an hour later
when the local bears would come around as they usually do looking for food. Not that these animals would inflict any real danger on tourists but the personnel of this lodge did make it sound just a little bit scary. And besides, for the last hour or so of our wet and slippery descent into the lowlands, our imagination had begun to run wild with us imagining all sorts of beastly animals lurking along our trail, ready to pounce at us all at once!





If so we could have been made to face the strangest of cuisine's with not much else to eat other than mushrooms like these, which would inevitably have meant VIKING
WARNING as two Swedish amateur moun- tain climbers would have surely gone totally bezerk!





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We wanted to capture the beauty of the Tatras but also the devastation caused to the woodlands by a violent storm which plowed through this region in November of 2004. It was the storm of the century as far as central and northern Europe is concerned, only to be compared with gales like "Gudrun" which caused complete havoc in the south of Sweden in January of 2005 flattening hundreds of millions of trees while inflicting immeasurable damage to the forestry throughout the lower south hence bringing many Swedish land owners to bankruptcy.




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This mountain range actually comprises the highest part of the Carpathians, which cover a large part of central to eastern Europe all the way into the Ukraine and down into Romania.




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Carina among uprooted pine trees.





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Stratus clouds hanging over Lomický peak in the distance.





The train of Tatry running along the southern and eastern flanks of the highlands.




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These shots  taken on that rainy day before we nearly
lost our way.






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