|Date||Saturday 2 July 2011|
|Distance stage||28,0 km|
|Distance acum.||2519,5 km|
|Quality of signs||bad|
|Quality of the hike||C (good): hills, forrests|
Today is my last day of my three-day hiking trip. I am in good spirits when I wake up (again very early) but I have my concerns about the poor quality of the signs in this part of the Trail. I leave the refuge just before sunrise in order to be able to use the daylight to the maximum extend from the top of the Skalisko onwards.
At 4.15am I am again up at the Skalisko, next to the big rock. According to the map the Trail follows the sharp ridge of the Skalisko to the east, until the shoulder named Tri Cholare. In reality it is not so simple. The ridge is not sharp edged and narrow, like on big mountains. It is wide, sometimes even more than 100 meters, and there is lots of vegetation like trees, bushes, long grass, etc. There is no clear overview, so it can very well be that according to the map I need to walk 100% east, but in reality I have to go some hundreds of meters northeast followed by a section to the southeast. The descent from the Skalisko is well to do, although the many chopped trees that are blocking the path force me to make many d-tours. The weather is not so good; it is cold, there is a lot of overcast and sometimes it starts to drizzle and rain. At a small junction in the woods called Sedlo Krive I am not concentrated and I take the wrong direction. I find out five minutes later and go back, no big deal. Except that the hill in the direction where I should be going is completely ruined; the path vanishes into the forrest ground, all trees have been chopped and crushed. I walk a few times up and down the hill but I am not able to find any possbility to move on, or even any indication where to go to. I decide to go back to the point where I found out I was going the wrong direction, half an hour before, and make a short cut through the fields and woods to the other side of the hill. The first part of the short cut is well to do, but after a few minutes the soil gets wet and soft. Carefully walking up the hill it gets less steep, but in return the soil starts to look more like a indeep marsh. On the top of the sloop that I am climbing the visibility is poor again, due to the fog. Once I get to the other side of the hill, still carefully putting my feet on the “ground” I see a forrest ahead of me. This means fixed soil and dry feet, and I move in that direction, slowly step by step, to try to keep the water from floating my shoes. According to the map I should be heading straight for a path that is marked with yellow signs, but nowhere I can see any sign or indication that there could be a path or road. After 10 minutes I approach the first trees of the forrest, and all of a sudden I am standing on a forrest road, with yellow signs left and right of me. I am completely surprised, and happy! I follow the road to the south, and after only 100 meters I bump into the red/white signs of the Trail! Unbelievable that I was so close to the path, or where it was supposed to be, and that I was fighting through the bush and swamp! Without more complications I arrive at the Uhornianske Sedlo, where the Trail crosses the regular road. The Slovaks told me last night that the following section, to Stoss-Kupele, is also in “heavy condititions”. Considering i) the condition of the section that I have just finished ii) the fact that the signs are in very poor quality iii) that I am alone iv) my feet are soaken wet v) it rains and the visibility is poor, I decide to choose for health & safety and I will follow the regular road through Uhorna and Smolnik and catch up with the Trail at Stoske Sedlo. It is not a shortcut as there are many curves and turns in the road. The first section, down to Uhorna, is very steep for cars, and regular steep for hikers.
After a few minutes of descending the trees on the right hand side have made way for a meadow, that allows some nice views into the valley and the low hanging clouds. I hear some mooing sounds behind me, like from a cow. My first thought is that it is much too steep here for cows to walk around. I turn around and see some 20 meters behind me a big deer jumping from the uphill side out of the trees on the road. Without stopping it turns its head in my direction and then jumps immediately off the road, downhill onto the meadow. It is being followed within a second by a huge wolf! I am startled and walk to the edge of the road to see if I can see how this piece of natural behaviour ends, but I can’t see any of them anymore. Without any other excitement I pass the small village Uhorna, where I have a break for some mueslibars as a late breakfast. It is raining constantly now but there’s no wind, so as long as I’m moving I’m warm. Following the easy road I pass the suburbs of Smolnik.
At the junction I follow the road uphill to Stoske Sedlo. At this point I pick up the Trail again. The signs are clear and it’s easy to follow them to Stos-Kupele, where I arrive at 11.10am.
Stos-Kupele is a very small village isolated on a hill at the end of road from Stos. On weekend days, like today, it is not easy to escape from Stos-Kupele. There’s a bus at 11.51 to the east to Kosice, and a bus at 11.57 to Spisska Nova Ves in the north. From both locations I can travel back to Bratislava easily. As I have always been trying at the end of all my E8-stages to travel backwards home, I choose for the 11.57 bus to Spisska Nova Ves, as I will not be crossing unknown territory by doing so. I will arrive in Kosice along the E8 in one or two stages from now. The first bus passes by at 11.50 without stopping. I get ready by putting my wet shoes on again, and folding my raincape into my backpack. At 11.58 the next bus stops. It turns out to be the 11.51 service to Kosice. The first bus was the bus that I was supposed to be in, but it was 8 minutes early. When I tell this to the driver he looks like he cannot do anything about this situation. “Ees toet mier leit”, he says, appologizing on behalf of the bus company and his collegue. Having no other option I take the bus to Kosice, and from there the first train to Bratislava. I don’t leave the bus & railway station to go into town or so. I am not supposed to be here, yet.