|Date||Monday 26 April 2010|
|Distance stage||12,0 km|
|Distance acum.||2423,0 km|
|Quality of signs||Poor|
|Quality of the hike||B (great): mountains, nice views|
Today is the first day of another two-day hiking trip. It was hard to squeeze this trip into everyone’s agendas. I had to skip a business visit to Germany in order to be able to spend a few days on the E8. It is the only oppertunity that I have in the first eight months of this year. Since I finished last time in the middle of the mountain range Lower Tatras I am depending on the terrain conditions to be able to walk. I have to wait for the end of the winter or before the beginning of the next winter, which only leaves a relatively small time window. When I was in the bus yesterday on my way from Bratislava to Certovica I was surprised about the amount of snow that was still at the peaks of the Lower Tatras. When I arrived at Certovica I check in in the pension where I had made my reservation. Before dinner I walk the first 15 minutes of the hike, to be able to find my way without a problem when I start around sunset. There are still tranches of snow left here at 1100 meters altitude. I have to go 900 meters higher tomorrow. . .
I leave the pension at Certovica at 4.30am, approximately half an hour before sunrise. In the twilight I make a mistake in following the right way, and I end up losing half an hour before I find out and get back on the Trail. By then, I have already wet shoes due to the tranches of snow that I had to cross, even at 1400 meters. Today’s stage will lead me up to 1985 meters. . . . After the peak of the Havrania Pol’ana the Trail follows the top ridge of the Lower Tatra again, well sort of. The ridge itself is completely taken by bushes of 2.5 meters high, that block any view and that do not leave any sign of the Trail. And there is lots of snow of course.
Due to poor concentration I end up in the middle of these bushes and I have to fight my way through the trunks and the branches of the little trees. I loose more time and I feel I am totally not prepared for this type of adventure (I don’t have shoe protection to prevent snow from melting in, I don’t even have sunglasses with me!). After trying to find my way with the map and the compass I bump into the Trail again. It looks like in this section there are many signs that show the way, but they are situated on the ground. And almost all of them are covered with up to 30 centimeters of snow! With much delay I arrive around 12.00noon at the pass Oravcova. I had planned to be here at 8.00am or so, so I am using double the time that I thought I would be. And I only have been up to 1500 meters, so far. Ahead of me the snow will be higher and more problematic. At the Oravcova pass there is marked path that leads down into the valley. It is one of the few options that I have to leave the Trail in the Lower Tatra. It is useless and risky to continue like this. I leave the Trail and start to go down into the valley.
Half an hour later I make a lunch stop and I try to dry my shoes and clothes. I am very disappointed, but it would have been senseless and dangerous to continue. I continue my way down, in the meantime studying the map for a place to stay. If I could find a place to stay somewhere on the mountainside I could make another attempt tomorrow, with dry shoes and all. I could leave very early and make sure that I am at the Oravcova pass at 5.00am when the daylight break in. That would leave me the whole day to cross the rest of the Lower Tatra. If it was not for the snow, that will not be gone tomorrow. The first pension kind of place that I find is a holliday resort for kids. It is closed and the owner does nothing but enjoying the view (which is spectacular from here, I must admit).
I continue my way down and I end up in hotel The Golden Fish, just outside the village of Zavadka nad Hronom. They have plenty of rooms available. Mine has a fantastic view from the balcony, on the peak of the Král’ova Hola where I was hoping to be hiking this afternoon. It looks this afternoon very much like the famous Mont Ventoux in the south of France.
During the previous 63 stages of my E8-adventure I learned that no matter how much, or how few, kilometers you are able to do on a trip, there’s always a next time. I remind me of that, but the disapointment stays. Even the extremely friendly pricing level of the hotel does not change that (remember: I am Dutch 😉 )