THE GRAND TOUR: SLOVAKIA 1st/2nd JULY

After the exhausting efforts of the 17km trek up into the mountains the day before we thought we would give the dogs a rest in the van while we took a cable car up to the top of Lomnicky Stit the second highest peak in the Tatras at 2634m. There was cloud hanging around the summit but we thought we could do some walking at the half way stage until it cleared. Unfortunately, when we got the tickets we were told we had to go now and that we only had an hour up there. It looked like a fairly hairy ride almost vertically up 900m of cliff face.  

   

We slowly disappeared into the cloud and emerged into a strangely smart little bar like an upmarket hotel lobby with doors leading out to a savage wildness. Although today it was all a bit muted in a total grey out. There was a board pointing out all the peaks visible.  

 And a man trying to get the TV aerial to work- left a bit !! 

 

Eventually the clouds started to part tantalisingly to reveal patches of mountain around us fleetingly.  

     We could see the track snaking up the valley we had hiked the day before way down below the viewing platform projecting out over the abyss.  

 The cloud played peek-a-boo for the rest of our stay up there and all too soon in was time to squeeze back into the cable car with the guard whose job it was was to sit with his face jammed up against people’s arses all day and lock and unlock the car door. Nice work if you can get it. 

At the half way station we had walked from the previous day we headed in the opposite direction, past the observatory  

 and up into the dwarf pines.  

 

It  only about 4km to our target, a minor peak called Vefke Svistovka at 2036 m. It was slow going over a jumbled sea of rock and boulders.  

 This was followed by a steep zigzagging ascent but all our efforts were rewarded by the views from the top of the valley below us and we were relieved that we were not continuing on down the switchback path to the lakeside chata on the valley floor.  

   

So , back down once more after the sarnies past a whole gang of chamois and over a whole heap of rockfall.  

 

What we thought was going to be an easy day had left us knackered again by the time we got back to the van so promised ourselves a day off the next day. 

It didn’t quite work out like that as we were at it again from 7 till 5 but very enjoyable anyway. It was a fine clear morning 

 with a rosy glow to the peaks in the sunrise. It looked like it was going to be a hot one so we decided to stay down in the shade and do a riverside walk through the trees up to some waterfalls. 

It allowed us to see close up the recovery from the Bora, the great destroying wind of a decade ago. I wrongly said in my previous post that it took out 24,000 hectares when in actual fact it was only 12,500 hectares.  5 million trees came down and they covered 230km of walking trail that had to be cleared. The Slovakian Olympic team,trainers, committee and staff were some off the first volunteers as well as scouts and schools. An all hands to the pumps effort apparently. 

The recovering forest is lovely in places with a mass of young birch and rowan filling the gaps  

 but unfortunately the wind was only half the damage. A beetle that kills the surviving pines took advantage of the new conditions and created havoc by destroying countless more and a battle is being waged against them by setting up thousands of pheromone traps. We had been seeing them in the woods since East Germany and it now made sense.  

   It was sad to see all the damage but the cascades still made for a beautiful scene.  

   

We got up to a chata in a clearing where we were amazed to see a wild fox hanging around the picnic tables.  

   The whole place was impressive, run by a character from a distinguished line of chata men and porters who stuffed his little but with memorabilia.  

     

We surprised some wildlife and ourselves on the way back down  

   but managed to escape unharmed. 

Not surprising of course as they were stuffed and in display cabinets I the national park museum we visited later.  

 I wouldn’t want to meet one of these guys or the big brown bears. 

Next door was a nice spacious botanical garden containing all the plants we had been admiring in the wild and loads we hadn’t spotted.  

         Including the famous, thanks to Engleburt Humperdink, Edelweiss. 

  
Back to camp after another busy day with just enough time to sample some of the local elixirs before dinner. 

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2 comments

  1. Wonderful stuff! Keep these posts coming! I’m enjoying every minute of this from the safety and comfort of my armchair! Envious too!

    Like

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