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34549Re: SUCCESS! - Travels in Eastern Slovakia

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  • Ron
    Aug 19, 2013
      My equipment is aired out and repacked, my laundry is done, some clothes repaired, and the feet thankful for good boots and a good hike that they completed Saturday.

      With Stara Lubovna as my base,I took the bus system to Medzilaborce and Palota, where I stepped off the bus about 5:30PM. 5 days later I walked into Novy Sedlica after completing the treck along the Slovak-Polish border for 100 km. Other than the normal stories you might expect, an observation relevant to a periodic topic:

      I now firmly believe crossing the border across the Carpathian mountains was an easy and common thing. I think our trouble with accepting regular cross border commerce by local residents stems from our sedentary and motorized life. Five days of running across people recreating along the border, far from shelter, hotel or meals, and just out for a day hike with family - of all ages from 5 up - and running quite comfortably into evening when they would have to complete the hike in the dark, all demonstrated a common spirit I can only imagine our ancestors had as well. There were too many people of all ages and conditions out far from starting or end points for me not to come to this conclusion. You can tell by the pack who is out for the day and who for an extended time.

      In addition, not a single person was surprised to meet me as a lone hiker heading along the trail. I passed half a dozen other single hikers, one or two women alone, most with extended packs.

      In contrast to too much water last year, this year Europe has had two months of hot, dry air from the Sahara, so half of the springs along the trail were dried up. Water became a major problem. My first full day of hiking I arrived at Balnica with a 16 ounce bottle of water to carry me through cooking dinner, the evening, and cooking breakfast. Happily some Polish hikers steered me to the Forester's small enterprise with camp site, water, and basic necessities for sale.

      Finishing another day with so little water would be dangerous, but the Poles showed me on the map where the additional springs were to be found.

      "Wild Camping" is strictly forbidden in the preserves along the border and I was a bit embarrassed by breaking the rules, but I know I can leave no trace. I lost all reluctance the night I spent at the official camp under Ciertaz and the Polish Army (or yahoos in PL uniforms) visited us on roaring motor bikes and ATV's. They sure aren't outfitted for sneaking up on smugglers!

      It was great to see the Slovak-Polish-Ukraine border in good weather. It was also a pleasure to spend the days hiking the mountains of our ancestors. It is a beautiful and challenging area!

      PS. I was beaten back twice by wet weather and storms last year. It is nice to come away with success!

      --- In Slovak-World@yahoogroups.com, "Ron" <amiak27@...> wrote:
      > Tomorrow I head off on the night train across old CzechoSlovakia to my other aunt near Cheb. It has been an interesting and productive 4 weeks in Slovakia and to my surprise my Slovak was not as terrible as expected. Still terrible, but much better than I feared. I have to give up my claim to being worst Slovak student in the world, but I can still claim to be a contender. Next year I must come for a 3 week basic language and build on what I know.
      > In addition to visiting family, I wanted to try a long range hike from Bill T's neighborhood at Nova Sedlica along the Carpathian ridge that is the Slovak-Polish border. From internet pictures I envisioned forest alternating with mountain meadows with good views to both Poland and Slovakia. I met local hikers who tell me that route is largely forested and there are few viewpoints along the way.
      > Just getting to Nova Sedlica from Stara Lubovna was interesting. I left at 9 AM and got to NS with some school children returning after school, changing busses in Presov, and Snina. The last bus was a virtual tour of so many places I have heard of � Starina reservoir, Prislop, Topola, Kolbasov, Rusky Potok, Ulic, Ulicske Krive, and Zboj to Nova Sedlica. Quite a mountain tour! I was happy to have someone else drive while I could watch the country side. It is beautiful country and the villages contain a series of landmark old churches and structures. Returning by car would allow me to make my own schedule and stops.
      > The hike from Nova Sedlica is as challenging as reputed. It is just a long grind with a full pack when you are equipped for 5 days of hiking. The short story is that I started on an iffy day but good predictions for the next two days. By the time I got to the top I was in fog and blowing rain, and then the weather turned bad. After leaving the tri-corner border I headed west along the ridge and found the shelter at Ciertaz saddle. It broke the wind enough so I could cook a hot supper and later breakfast, and set the tent top up around my sleeping bag to keep the rain and wind in the shelter from penetrating my sleeping bag. The storm was still blowing in the morning, so after 18 hours I headed down the mountain out of the wind, rain and snow.
      > The future will see if I return on a series of day hikes or go for another multi-day hike. In any case it will be more "in season" when there are better chances of good weather. Off season did not work well this year.
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