Wandering around Veľká Fatra (July 4th – July 8th 2020)
Do you remember Danča who I went to Mexico with? So recently she texted me asking if I don´t want to go on a hike with her. She said we´d go on the combs of the mountains. I´ll be honest with you I am that kind of person who doesn´t know a thing about Slovakia´s mountains and I´m also a Bratislava´s girl who considers as hike a trip from Koliba to Železná studienka. Of course, I said yes that´s such a great idea, let´s do that. Few days after she came up with a plan that we´d hike around the combs of Veľká Fatra. She said that all I need were hiking shoes (my suggestion to go wearing converse was declined), a backpack, mat and a sleeper. At the end she encouraged me (well, to be honest she didn´t): “C´mon, we survived au pair, we´re gonna survive everything!”
I was excited but also a little bit scared and I was telling everyone about our 5-days long hiking trip. Reactions from my friends were following: “Do you know that bears live in Veľká Fatra?” “Do you even know what you´re actually about to do?” “Just please, don´t wear converse!” “You barely survived one night out when we went fishing and now you want to make five days in the mountains?” “I am curious how you´re gonna make it.” What can I say, there´s nothing better than your supportive friends. Fortunately, I am stubborn enough and as you might already know, I do what I intend to. And so, I got a backpack, hiking shoes, mat, sleeper and even a mess tin. I was super curious about our hike because I had no idea what I was about to do because I´ve never done something like this before.
Day 1st July 4th 2020
Happy 4th of July! But back to our topic… In the morning I packed the last things into my backpack and I put it on a scale. It was showing almost 40 pounds and I still had to leave some room for a piece of the tent we were taking with us. The end. Hardly I made it to the bus stop where I was trying to figure out how was I supposed to carry this for five days during our hike. My dilemma was never solved and so, still excited for a new adventure I carried it all the way to Ružomberok where I found out that the backpack wasn´t set up correctly. One problem was solved.
Since Danča was traveling from Prague, Czech Republic, we decided to meet during the day so she could have slept during the past night a little bit too. We arrived to Ružomberok almost at the same time at 1:30pm. We celebrated our reunion by drinking a champagne in front of the train station and then we left on our hike. I came up with an idea to take a cab to Hrabovo. And from Hrabovo we wanted to take a cable-car to Malinô Brdo. Danča didn´t like this idea at first (because our plan was to do a hike) but after my argument saying that we were about to do plenty of hike during the following days, she agreed with the taxi idea. And let me tell you that it´d be a looooooong way up to Hrabovo if we walked. People we met were surprised that we – two girls – were going on a hike and we couldn´t understand what was so unbelievable about it. Well, we understood it but later…
Our hike to Vlkolínec wasn´t that bad and Vlkolínec by itself is so beautiful. The only “problem” here is that you are not allowed to legally camp here. So we had to hike on the hill behind the village where we found an amazing place between the trees where no one could saw us. We picked a tent over there and cooked ourselves a dinner. Danča climbed on the tree where she hung our food to prevent bears from eating it because people say that a lot of bears live in this area and I was laughing that our bags full of food looked like presents from St. Nicholas. My arms and neck hurt me a lot, my feet stank and I have already resigned to the annoying insect that was everywhere.
We lay down into our tent that was put uphill (if you´re hiding from the world you can´t be picky) and I fell asleep with a memory from earlier today when one man from the train told me: “You are a fake Bratislava´s girl – you act like you´re spoiled but you´re not.” I might not be spoiled but sometimes I´m picky way too much…
Day 2nd July 5th 2020
During the night every now and then we travelled around our tent up and down. We slid down, woke up as we were pushing into the tent sheet and then we crawled back up to the top of the tent. Amazing night, wasn´t it? Since the morning my collar bones hurt me from carrying the backpack and during the day also my arms and lumbar joints joined the pain. I was laughing that if the lumbar pain gets too strong, our trip will finish very soon. But that didn´t happen and today was a day we spent by walking up the hills. First it was to Vtáčnik, then to Šiprúnske sedlo and at last to Smrekovica where we were camping. The weather was amazing, it was very hot and I thought I sweated my soul out. There wasn´t a cloud on the sky and I stank that much that even flies were sitting down on me. On the other hand we´ve seen a lot today: sheep with their shepherd who yelled at us since it turned out that we were sleeping on his property; cows that came to welcome us as I was trying to climb under an electric fence I thought wasn´t real and if Danča wouldn´t have told me, I´d get an electric shock and a man with his family who just appeared from the bush and for a second we thought he was a bear.
At the end of the day Danča said that the weather was really beautiful and that we should sleep under the sky. Since I´ve never tried it before, I agreed. I was too lazy to pick a tent again and I thought everything was going to be all right. I´ll just fall asleep and then wake up in the morning…
Day 3rd July 6th 2020
My first note of the day was: I am NEVER, EVER going to sleep under the sky again.
And now the explanation: it was a cold night, then it was even colder, I was shaking from the cold and then a strong wind was blowing and then… I heard some kind of swishing behind me. Since from the very beginning everyone was warning us from the bears, first thing that came up to my mind was that it was a bear walking behind us. And I almost got a stroke immediately. “The best thing” about it was that about five minutes after this noise I heard, suddenly I felt that something was standing over me and sniffing on my head. And now I was just thankful to God that it was that cold because I had my whole body completely wrapped inside the sleeper that not even a one hair was sticking out of it. I didn´t even have a need to check out what kind of animal was standing there. My blood pressure got super high, I was barely breathing and holding my tears from a breakdown I was about to have. In my hand I was holding a napkin (because I was sneezing in the evening) and I was pissed off that my pepper spray and knife stayed in the backpack. Why would I take such things into my sleeper, right. After a while the sniffing was gone but I was still unable to calm down. To be honest, I thought that my days were over. And also “a funny” thing was that Danča who had no idea what was happening since she was sleeping, suddenly started to move around in her sleeper a while after that sniffing was over. She did so much noise that I thought that animal will come back. It didn´t. Luckily. About an hour later it was finally a sunrise and after a short walk and very soon breakfast at 5am I went to take a short nap. Ones doesn´t feel that scared once the sun is up. Well and then I woke up for the second time. I heard some kind of swishing again. My body was getting a stoke Nr. 2 but since my head was out of the sleeper this time, I opened my eyes to check out what was making the noise. Surprisingly there was our friend Marek who lived in a caravan not that far away from us. Silently he was sneaking there to grab his beer bottle he gave us last night. He was leaving to work and he didn´t plan to come back there afterwards. I´m done. Just three more days and I´m definitely done.
—— Few hours later ——
How to sum up today? Before the whole trip we thought that we´d walk up the hill – the one we did last day – and during the rest of the days we´d just walk on the combs of the mountains. Our morning dialogue was following:
Danča: “There will be no mountains today, we will walk on that comb…”
Me: “OK, I´ll ask you in the evening.”
Danča: “Well, it won´t be!”
In the evening I asked Danča: “How was our day?”
Danča: “It was successful. The comb was a fail because it lasted only for a while, I mean seriously for a while so it was mostly walking up the hill. Hopefully we´ll reach it tomorrow.”
And now something interesting from today. During our hike to Rakytov we finally understood why people was surprised that it was just two of us doing this hike. It was a massacre. Maybe if we didn´t carry all the things we did, it´d be easier. We finally walked on our dream combs of the mountains but only for about five minutes. It was between Rakytov and Ploská. I came up to a conclusion that my shampoo and shower gel were going to be useless on this trip. It was already a third day I didn´t take a shower.
Ploská is a beautiful hill. It looks like a turtle shell with about 20 inches tall grass. During our hike on the peak we noticed that the sky changed. There were more and more clouds coming towards us. And so, we hurried up. With my tongue out I asked Danča if she noticed that the highest point all around was us. Everywhere around us there was just a grass and with a fear in my eyes I started calculating how much time did we have before the storm comes. But Danča said that we can make it up to the peak and down to Chata pod Borišovom (a hut) before the storm comes and I had no other option than trusting her. At the peak of Ploská we were standing face-to-face the black sky, and on our way down it started to be windy and then it was raining. The storm fortunately didn´t come at all and today was a day when we hiked up and then down from the mountain in the fastest time. Before the heaviest rain we were already in the hut and we were excited that we didn´t have to cook tonight and that we´ll take a shower. We thought we´ll feel pleasant here. But that´d happen only if there was at least electricity, showers, flushing toilet or a service. During the dinner a petrol lamp was our only light and we got a recommendation to use a head flashlight inside the hut. We got the remaining two beds, paid for the overpriced fake goulash and enjoyed the fact that at least we were warm and dry. Other than that, there was nothing to enjoy. Staff was unpleasant (with an exception of their supplies porter who was amazing) and food here was very overpriced. For example, I paid 1€ for a bowl of boiled water and 2,5€ for an instant coffee. And then a new day came…
Day 4th July 7th 2020
A new day began with a new me. Danča was laughing at me that I resigning on everything because I said that I don´t care about anything anymore: annoying insect, scratched hands and feet from the plants, lack of sleep, never ending hiking up the hills, lack of hygiene and I can continue on and on… I just told her that I gave up to my destiny and the best solution for me was resignation. I mean, I could have complained but resignation was easier solution. Mainly because if you walk up the third hill during one day, the last thing you have energy for is complaining. Resignation was the answer.
Our today´s hike was Ploská – Ostredok – Krížna – Kráľova studňa. Despite it was cloudy and very windy we decided not to take a shortcut around Ploská, but to hike up there again so we could have seen a nice panoramic view. We weren´t in a rush and we had a lot of energy for one more hill. We came to a cabin at Kráľová studňa around 4pm. That was our record in coming to our final destination of a day. Usually we were coming around 6pm. But today we had to leave Chata pod Borišovom at 9:30am what was the second best timing in terms of leaving a place. Usually we left around 10:30-11:00am because it took some time to get ready, prepare breakfast á la backpack, make a double coffee, tea, morning hygiene, to brush hair and pack things. And this timing wasn´t the only special thing about today. Today, finally our dream came true – we walked on the combs of the mountains! And that was awesome. Do you know the saying: you have to wait for good things. Or maybe: the best at the end? Whatever, the point is that it happened and it was just amazing.
In the cabin at Kráľová studňa it was by the evening 11 of us! Four people including us were sleeping on the benches, two of them were laying on the ground, two were sleeping in sleepers on the hammocks and three people were sleeping outside in their tents because there wasn´t more space inside the cabin. And by the way, I was the only Slovak there, it was all Czech people! I felt like a Slovak minority at that point…
Day 5th July 8th 2020
To keep on practising our hiking up the hills we decided that today won´t be only about walking down the hills but we´ll go to Staré Hory through the hill Japeň where we enjoyed our last lunch in nature. If I have ever seen a beautiful bumble bee, then it was at Japeň. Correct, I´m talking about that black and yellow insect making bzzzzz bzzzzz sounds. They were incredible! Around 2pm we arrived to Staré Hory where I finally had something tastier than my double mess tin instant coffee with a mountain water and at 3:30pm I said goodbye to Danča. She went to Prague and I went to Bratislava.
This was our five days in Veľká Fatra. A lot of memories, we slept in our sleepers in all possible ways (in a tent, under the sky, in the bed and on the bench) and we walked a long way. We also strengthen our friendship and started to think about more trips we´ll do together. I got some rest from “the real life” – since the Sunday morning until Wednesday afternoon I wasn´t on my phone at all and I told myself that I´m gonna be that picky Bratislava´s girl who´s never going to sleep in a sleeper again. But you know what? We had a great time! And now I´m finally going to take my well-deserved shower because after those five days I stink like a smoked homeless. And straight from the shower to a pedicure. Bye!