Hiking In The Tatra Mountain Range, Poland
In July 2015 I was lucky enough to get to Zakopane in Southern Poland where my main goal was to hike in the Tatra Mountain Range (wiki). One day saw me cover around 27km in sun, rain, wind, and fog. When I think back of this particular day it was full of highs and lows emotionally as you’ll see.
“Why Won’t Anyone Speak To Me?”
I love hiking in New Zealand, everyone says hello to one another. This wasn’t the case in Poland, everyone was happy but I wasn’t getting any responses to my cherry “Hello, how are you?” welcomings.
Eventually a Polish man who now lives in the US stopped and chatted and he said it was simply the culture. I thought this was just a big Eastern European big city thing, apparently not (Zakopane is a popular destination for domestic tourism).
“Am I A Loser?”
This is something I struggle with when travelling solo. Do people think I’m a loner when walking around solo? It can easily happen travelling solo, you don’t talk to anyone for an entire day. Having hiked for around 90 minutes I emerged into an open area where lots of groups were laughing and talking to one another.
Then there was me, just on my own, taking selfies and using the self timer to get photos of me. I always questions myself in these situations, wouldn’t I better off doing hikes with friends back home?
“Will Anyone Think I’m Weird?”
I’ve been meditating off and on for a while but in doing so in my room 99% of the time. I found a great spot where I wanted to meditate for 15 minutes or so. It was so nerve wracking, but luckily very few people were on this trail.
Not going to lie, my eyes to open a couple of times to make sure no one was giving me funny looks. 20 minutes later it was time to get going and I’m pretty sure the small break had a positive effect overall on my speed. Win!
“Nothing Can Stop Me”
The forecast had rain projected and the early blue skies had transformed into fog and now rain. I was looking around and people had started slowing down, having put on all their wet weather gear and started heading back to base.
Myself? I found the rain empowering and hiked as fast as possible toa peak which was on the border of Poland and Slovakia. Having passed a few people in this last stretch, I felt invincible. It was that magical feeling that is hard to replicaw\te.
“What Would Friends Back Home Think?”
New Zealand has some treacherous trails which combined with weather lead to the inevitable headlines ‘tourists reported missing on Mount X’ from time to time. It sometimes leads to casualties with hikers not prepared for all conditions with minimal food and water.
I’d been hiking along the Slovakia and Poland ridgeline when I got to a peak and the fog and rain had really closed in. Visibility was very, very low. I was so close to asking people if I could join them for the descent, it would be the sensible thing to do.
I was stubborn however and continued on, with no food, minimal water, and just my hoodie to keep me warm. It turns out most people caught the cable car down the mountain which I hadn’t even seen at the peak the visibility was so bad.
I made it back safely, but there would have been people back home calling me an idiot for continuing on alone with minimal resources and no knowledge of the area (and a phone on low battery).
“I’m Not As Unfit As Expected”
23km or so later I was finally back to the bottom of the mountain. The final stretch was awesome, having been slightly worried I’d be pushing myself too hard with the plan conceived the night before. it was just another 4km into the city centre and those 4km were full of justifications in my head. Knowing very few would have hiked a longer distance than me that day. It definitely reassured to myself, I can smash a goal when my mind is in it.
Traveling solo is fun, but also makes you a little crazy with all the thoughts going through your head. The hike was amazing and while it turns into a snowboarders haven in winter, hiking in the Tatra Mountain Range is definitely something to do in Zakopane.