Archive for the 'walking it across' Category

DONE! I walked 185 km across Slovakia! (see pics)

See the map of the route I took.

Photos ARE AVAILABLE (like all my Slovakia pics) on my picasa at http://picasaweb.google.com/klepo.slovakia/WalkAcrossSlovakia.

Read details about the trip in the daily updates below…

Day 6: Sunday, Vysne Zahorany – Teply Vrch – Rimavska Sec – Lenartovce

Wake up time is 6 am… At 6.30 am I start heading for the village of Padarovce, screw all advices I stick to the official marked path. At the beginning its fine, but soon I run into dewberry bushes… First its annoying but rather easy to get through with the help of a stick and a little stomping, second time its little worse, the third is absurd… It takes me like 15 minutes to clear the path for me and still I have the dewberry thorns pulling on my shirt, trousers and bag and my trousers get a pattern of black and red juice on them.

Remember the “things are the way they are supposed to be…” part? I can no way imagine going this way at/after sunset, NO way. I am so glad I got lost :P The way to Padarovce doesnt take me 1h 15m as its written, but over 2 hours. And when I finally get there I realize that I have an old map and the path has been changed and doesnt go to Velky Blh but Teply Vrch… which means additional 5 km walk on the road to North (when all I want is to go South) :P

No other choice left but to start properly walk, I want to be in Lenartovce (a village on the Hungarian border) at 5 pm so I can get a train home. Well easy to say but its more than 30 km away… In Teply Vrch there is a dam where I went once during a summer holiday for a swim, I try to get closer to water but its all fenced out and “only for hotel guests entry” marked, so I give up and keep on going.

Now comes the final reckoning. Soon my feet start hurting, lots (thats more than just “a lot”).

I stop every few minutes / 100s of meters to get a breath and give my shoulders and feet a moment of relief. The road is unending, unchanging – little bit up, little bit down, straight into nowhere, leading from nowhere, trees lining it on left, also on left, enter small village, leave small village, sun, no clouds, feet hurt, need to stop again.

its so hot I can write my name in asphalt on the road

After what feels like ages (4 hours) I get to a bigger village where for a while I am two “Slovak” boys who dont know anything in Slovak language except of “wallet” and “fifty” – they asked me for money… Damn, they would not even know how much the money is worth if it didnt have the value also in numbers :P I think they finished up on the wrong side of the border…

Last 9 km is slow but the goal is in sight. And I get to Lenartovce. A lost village with only one pub that opens at 5 pm. I arrive there at 4 pm. My train is at 5 pm. Train station is like 1 km out of the village. It. Takes. Ages. To. Get. There. My feet are have found their limit.

The station is a monument… Its big as a station in a proper town. It also was for years the border station between Slovakia and Hungary, but now with EU and Shengen its just a useless big, empty building with only one guy who checks on the trains and even nobody to sell tickets. The guy was upset when I asked for the keys from the toilet said something about bushes all around the station and that he wont bother with everybody who goes around. Actually there was only one more passenger so it would not be that much work :)

I take of my boots and put on sandals. My feet look like Your hands after a few hours of swimming. They hurt and will for quite a while longer.

I have not used the stupid 4 kg tent a single time. I still have food left. Stupid.

I am glad its over. I did it.

Day 5: Trstie – Polom – Klinove – Vysne Zahorany – ? – Vysne Zahorany

So I am officially changing the route, I am taking the shortest path to the border. Most of the day I will spend walking the Route of Maria Czeczi – gravel roads across or on the edge of forests.

Couple of times I get lost, loosing the path despite very good marking, but I am always back on track within few minutes. The road is more or less the same the whole day – through leaf forests, following edges of forests where it meets with fields, nothing really demanding, a very easy day it looks like, but still nice views – good for getting back into shape. Also one part of walking the road, but pretty acceptable.

Before Vysne Zahorany I run out of water and with a dry mouth ask locals for some. This is the village where I am supposed to part with the Route of Maria Czeczi and head for the village of Velky Blh. I meet some local guys at the pub and get into a talk over beer. They promise to show me a shortcut if I have a few smokes (fun stuff) with them. When we finally move its nearly 7 pm. After a while I find out that their “shortcut” is actually the same length as the normal road thus at least another 1,5 hrs await me! I skip the smokes, let them explain me (couple of times) the road and go… and get lost immediately. You know if You meet a “visual” (learning style) guy like me, it doesnt really help him to explain the road, he needs markings and directions and stuff, not just words :P

But they have shown me the direction I am heading (“You have to go that way!”), so as I try to keep walking that way, first on the road in forest, than on the path in the forest, than between the trees in the forest. No markings, sun is starting to set and I have only a vague idea of which way to go. After like half an hour of walking (I think I can see road down there, it must be the one they talked about…. walk walk walk, crap its not road), part even steeply down the hill, I again realize that I am lost. Nearly dark, no clue where am I, its time for the good old – lets go back where You came from! Well the difficult part is that there are dozens of smaller or bigger paths crossing in the forest, so what do I do? Well follow the light :) So heading for the flickering of the setting sun I go. On the way I even bump into a hunters post that I saw on the way before and even climb up and think if to stay there for the night. But the idea of walking-by bears doesnt make me feel too comfortable, caution wins over feeling of “lets have an adventure” and I keep on staggering to the edge of the woods.

At the end I am in a half gallop, tripping on fallen branches, but I do get out of the trees… to find myself close to a lonely house with random cows and an electrically charged fence to keep the cows in. After a little walking around to avoid an uninvited shot of energy I pass by the house with barking dogs and go to the field above it. From there I see that I am less than 1 km away from the village I started from more than an hour ago – Vysne Zahorany… but first I need to get through a wheat field, muddy spring, grass and a corn field. So I start going… sadly I find out that it was not a normal grass, but sting-grass and with my arms itching and in pitch dark I arrive to the village. A surprised local meets me (he saw me leaving more than hour ago) and suggests that I sleep in the hay storage few meters away. The guy is very helpful (brings me water and offers help), too helpful, so I rather put my money in my sleeping bag :)

To finish up the day I suddenly wake up because I can hear some strange noises close to me… Dog? Too small. Cat? Still too small. Rat? Crap, might be. I make a random go-away sound and take a flashlight… to find out its a hedgehog who decided to sleep less than 2 meters away from me. After I made him twice blind with my photocamera he got pissed off and left :)

Day 4: Friday, Nizna Klakova – Sitarovo (?) – Nizna Klakova – Muran – Trstie

Well today was clearly a punishment for bragging about bad marking of paths and getting lost. It fully proves the theory that “everything is the way it is supposed to be… its just us, humans, who think it should be different” – fate changes my plans but at the same time takes care of me.

In the morning I got out of the tourist shelter on Nizna Klakova at around 8.30 am. I have asked the horse herdsmen  which way to go to Sivakova (my next stop), they showed me so I started that way. But after like 20 meters without a single marking confirming the direction I came back to confirm, they have again repeated their claim so I thought “they work here, so there surely know”. Also in the notes from other tourists in the shelter it was written that there were fallen trees and the path was not clear… Well there were no trees here but path was surely unclear. So I walk, and walk… After half an hour down the hill I find myself on a crossroad and still no marking… crap. Left? Right? Crap*2! I might be on Sivakova and am supposed to go left now, or I am on a completely different place and any route except of going back is a way to get lost even more. So I finally decide to turn back – the only thing that gives me energy while climbing up the hill back to the meadow is designing the exact swearing I will tell the herdsmen who advised me so well, I even consider that if they are not around to listen to me I will write a nice message for them on the door of their hut next to the fence where the horses sleep. It takes me more than an hour to get back to Nizna Klakova.

There is nobody on the meadow, I try every possible direction to look for the beginning of the path I am supposed to take but no marking at all are to be found. I can hear the bells that some of the horses have mounted to their necks, take a map and decide to look for the herdsmen and get some proper information. When I finally locate them, “surprisingly” they actually have no clue – never been to the place where I was going, its just that some tourists have told them its that direction (#$%* !). Frustrated I skip the swearing plan and decide that instead of risking the route again I will take a different path – going around Tisovec to the village of Muran, thus loosing 2 hours compared to original track plan. And again “surprisingly” even here the marking is so bad that I get off the path and take a route to Muran which is half an hour longer.

When I finally get to the village of Muran its already 1 pm. I find a place where I can have a hot soup and sit down to replan my next steps so that I can join the planned route -  to the hill of Trstie. I take delight of two cold Kofolas (www.kofola.sk) and start the 4 hours walk of dusty/stony roads across forests to Trstie. I find signs informing me that its actually a tourist path following a 16th century road between the towns/castles of Muran and Filakova called the Route of Maria Czeczi. VERY well marked I have to say. There is hundreds of places where You could possibly go off the path but there is always a well place mark pointing the right direction. When I finally get to Trstie and feel like giving up I see a sign saying “Tourist shelter – 10 m” – things are the way they are supposed to be :)

I get ther and its not actually a shelter but a proper big cottage with ironcovered closed windows, but that doesnt matter, I can sleep on the veranda and there is a spring with drink water.  When I am nearly ready to lay down the owners arrive – I am feeling pretty awkward, but I ask if I can stay. They say that I can even sleep inside – I still feel awkward. Only after a while I realize that these guys are actually members of the Slovak tourist club and the cottage is not private as I thought but belongs to the club and is just in reconstruction. They actually offer accommodation there for 50 SK (2 USD) per night! But because its in reconstruction I can sleep for free :)

I sit down again, take the map and realize that I am late compared to plan by more than 5 hours (I was to be on Trstie at noon time). So I decide to change the route and take the closest way to the border – finishing in the village of Lenartovce on the Slovakia-Hungary border. That means some 3 dozens of kilometers of walking on the road, yack! But I dont see any other way to finish on time (On Tuesday I have to be in Prague because of my Ghana visas).

As “bed time stories” the guys share their stories of encounters with bears. Looks like there is too many of them now and they are less and less afraid of people. When I finally go to sleep I realize I am happy that I dont have to sleep outside :D

Day 3: Thursday, Andrejcova – Pohorela – Studna na Murani – Nizna Klakova

What wakes me up is when I realize that I can hear voices right behind the wooden wall. When a thought that it could possibly be forest guard comes to my mind I don’t feel very happy. But when the two guys keep on talking in a car parked less than 3 meters from me I give up and start packing and eating some breakfast. Luckily the two lumber jacks (because that’s what the guys after all have been) left for work before I was ready to leave. It takes a while to make my feet go properly and get into a proper tempo.

As it soon turns out the cottage where I was supposed to stay for the night is still pretty far and through not very easy terrain (freshly cut forest with some trees still lying around). I was damn happy that I stopped down there and didn’t try to go any further – there was no place to sleep till the cottage which was another 1.5 hr away. The cottage is really nice, it’s a shelter for tourists with wooden benches and a fire place where anybody can sleep over for free. I met there a German guy who also did a few days of hike and got into talk with him. It cost me some half an hour but was fun. I have finally told my mom that I am going alone, she slightly freaks out.

I get down the hill to the village of Pohorela and from that I am taking the “good old” asphalt road to Pohorelska Masa (famous in AIESEC Slovakia for a couple of crazy summer camping trips, now the camp is empty and desolate). Now there are two roads to where I am heading, I pick the one that according to map is a little bit shorter.. but it also means more walking the road compared to a path in forest, dang. Walking up the hill taking a broken down road I am again close to giving up – fed up with this all :P . I finally get up to Sedlo Setarova (sedlo = saddle, the gap between two hills is called like this) and from there after 40 min (and not the official 25 minutes) I finally get to Studna na Murani (the Well on Muran). I am doing pretty bad – feeling really tired and stuff and so I just decide to go to Nizna Klakova and sleep over there in a tourists shelter.

The way there feels like its never going to finish, instead of official 1h 20m it takes me 2hrs! I dont get it how could I go so slow but when I finally get there and take of my shoes I feel like I wont be able to walk a few meters. The shelter is smaller than on Andrejcova but nice. There are 3 czechs over there (they stay here during nights and go for trips to the hills around during the day, 3 days they have spent here like that).

On the same meadow there is a fence with the famous horses from Muran. The are big, brown and beautiful. After sunset in only sandals I decide to go for water (sign says that 3 minutes away), after some difficulties I find the spring and fill in my bottles. Problem comes on the way when I loose the path and with minimal light I try to get through the bushes and trees towards the brighter spots between trees – the edge of the meadow, when I finally little scratched get on the meadow I found out that I am some 50 m away from the path. I think that was my punishment for complaining about getting lost :) I ate some canned meat, watched the stars and go to sleep. The czech guys have decided to sleep under the stars, in middle of the night I am woken up with loud screams of “get lost! hey! bastard!” and a minute later one of the guys comes in with this explanation: “a fox was pulling on my sleeping bag, bastard!”. In morning we find in the book where the visitors write their notes on their stay that the fox is a common visitor and got used to being fed by the tourists, looks like he was trying to remind us that he didnt get any leftovers today :)

Day 2: Wednesday – Cottage under Rysy – Strba – Liptovska Teplicka – under Andrejcova

The breakfast at the cottage starts at 6.30 am and we slept at the floor of the dining room so we were awake already as early as 6 am. The breakfast (included in price) was really rich, with all kinds of food – we ate properly for first time in 24 hours, the day before we didn’t feel like eating. We left the cottage at around 8 am. As soon as we started to walk it was clear that Ivos knee is not ok, the path was mostly about jumping down from one rock to another one and sometimes climbing using chains and already the first part that was supposed to take one hour took us two.

Before getting to Strbske Pleso (the Mountain lake of Strba) it was obvious he cant continue this way and we decided that he will end there and I will go alone. That also meant that I was carrying all my stuff, food that was originally meant for two and now even the stupid tent, pretty nice load. After a goodbye beer (with little dizzy head) I started to half-walk-half-jog down the hill to Tatranska Strba.

My feet were already starting to hurt and it took me a while to warm up into a steady speed. From there started the first painful asphalt road leg – 17 km of hard surface. The village of Liptovska Teplicka was not marked correctly on my map – it took an hour longer than it said. The top frustration came when I saw a sign and came to it expecting to tell me I already came to the village and instead of that it informed me that I have to walk another hour. The marking in the village (when I finally get there) is poor and nobody can give me proper advise on the direction so I loose some time also there. If I didn’t have the maps I would be screwed.

When I finally get to the crossroad from where I am supposed to go uphill its nearly 7 pm and the sun starts to set already. I start to go as fast I my tired body only can up the hill, but more and more frequently the idea comes back that I should give up the goal of getting to the peak (where there is a tourist sleeping hut) and spend the night somewhere earlier. I wanted to prove myself that I can do it, so I continued. At 7.55 pm I nearly cant see the road because of the darkness and come to a wooden hut – I think an empty hay storage. I give up and decide to sleep there. I finally eat something proper again – a can of beans and I can tell You that its truth that hunger is the best cook – it tasted amazingly good! At around 8 pm in nearly complete darkness I notice a guy riding bike down the hill without any light – mega dumb! I lay down and try to sleep I lay down and try to sleep I lay down and try to sleep but am waking up the whole night because of wind and strange noises, I don’t really feel safe there.