It was more difficult to walk down the rocky red path from the chaty than to climb up it and we nearly slipped a couple of times. On our way we passed some guys carrying supplies to the chaty. This must be a very demanding job. They must have to take the funicular to Hrebeinok, then walk uphill for an hour to the chaty. One guy we passed was carrying a keg of beer on his back, while another had soft drinks, food and other supplies.
After meeting the green trail again, the scenery was less impressive though we did have the occasional view of Lomnica or Smokovec in the distance. We got to Hrebienok at about 4pm and as we were both quite tired we decided to head down to Stary Smokovec rather than continue on the red path.
A group of kids were planning to go down on scooters. This looked fun and I wish we had done it. Instead we walked down through the woods alongside the funicular, a trip which took about 40 minutes. It's interesting how the funicular works. Both cars are tied to a steel line which ties around a wheel at the top. As one car descends with the line the other gets dragged up. After arriving in Smokovec we went straight to the station and bought tickets for the electric train to Lominca. We could maybe have walked this journey (6km) but we had been hiking all day so we took the easy option.
So that was the end of our Tatra adventures, after 4 days hiking on both Slovakia and Polish sides. We hadn't climbed Rysy or seen the lake at Morskie Oro or made it to the top of any of the Slovakian peaks. But we had been on some great hikes, we had done a fair amount of climbing and every day we had worked very hard - and had the blisters to prove it!
We arrived at Zamkovskeho Chaty 1.15 which meant it had taken us 3.5 hrs including breaks to get here from Lomninca. It was fairly tough going especially on the rocky red trail and the overall ascent had been about 600 metres.
This was the nicest chaty we had seen so far. As it was lunchtime many hikers were stopping here for a bite to eat. The chaty served food but we had our picnic lunch so we sat on one of the benches outside it. Our Emmental cheese was tasteless but the yoghurts, crisps and chocolate were delicious. I took only 6 units of insulin this time as I knew it would be absorbed quickly on the hike later on.
After lunch we looked inside the chaty. It was very cosy and the smell of goulash was enticing, much nicer than our cheese and tomato sandwiches. There were plenty of people drinking beer, both inside and on the terrace. From the front of the chaty there was a lovely view of the mountains in the distance. Our guidebook said that this chaty was a convenient place to start a climb into the Tatras but for us it was a finishing point.
We had a couple of options at this stage. We could continue up the red trail to Skalnate Pleso, and if the weather was fine, take the cable car to Lomnicky Slit. Or we could walk back down to Hreboniek and then either down to Smokovec or west to Slievsky Dom on the red trail and then descend. As we had been to Skalnate Pleso the afternoon before we decided to walk back down.
There was a small chaty at Studeny Potok which sold a limited amount of food and drink. It was still too early for lunch but we stopped for a brief rest and looked inside the chaty which seemed very cosy. Smoke was coming from the chimney and it looked very cosy. It must be a nice feeling arriving at one of these places to stay the night after a full day's hike. I was surprised at how many people were drinking beer but that's the Slovakians for you!! I know these trails were relatively easy but nevertheless you do need to watch where you're going and it is easy to lose footing.
We decided to take the red trail to the Obrovsky Vodopad waterfalls higher up which had been mentioned in our guide book. By our reckoning it would be lunchtime when we arrived there and there was bound to be a good spot to eat. The red trail straightaway became rocky and there was no longer a smooth path. We found this quite sore to walk on and it was much more difficult than the blue trail we had been on all morning. You have to constantly watch where you are going, making it more difficult to enjoy the views.
The path was very busy with Slovaks of all ages. They start young here and I was surprised by the number of kids on the trails. Many adults were carrying babies in specially constructed backpacks.
Not long after we started on the red trail we came to the waterfall. It was very impressive and there was a bridge in front of it from where you could take pictures. There were no places to stop for lunch however so we decided to push on to the chaty whihch was about 30 minutes up the red trail. We soon came to another scenic sight with a stream flowing over rocks near another bridge. This was great spot for pictures and I climbed up the slippy rocks to pose for one.
Fondest memory: A few minutes further along the trail brought us beyond the wood and onto the most scenic section of the walk. I had read about how great the views were along the Tatranska Magistral and now I could see it for real. We could see all the way down the mountains to the towns in the distance. I presumed this was Stary Smokovec but it was hard to tell. In the other directions we could see snow and cloud topped peaks rising in the distance. It was breathtaking sight and every few minutes we would stop to take a picture better than the previous one. At a hairpin bend we turned and now had the mountain views in front of us and the town bellow us.
We were both hungry so on we went as fast as possible to the chaty.
Our High Tatras hike started early at Tatranska Lomnica and ended that evening in Stary Smokovec. Our initial plan was to walk the blue trail to Hrebienok, then hike back down to Stary Smokovec. As most of the mountains were still covered in clouds we saw little point in trying to ascend to any of the summits.
For the first part of the trail we followed the purple ski route parallel to the path of the cable cars in Tatranska Lomnica. After about 100m climbing we switched to a blue path heading west. This was very muddy at first and we had to walk along the side of it to prevent our clothes and shoes being ruined.
Most people we had seen so far had been on their way up to Skalnate Pleso so we had the blue path to ourselves for long periods of time. There was a friendly Slovakian guy who indicated how to get onto the blue path initially at the start, a couple of mountain bikers (not easy on this terrain) and the odd person or couple walking to Lomninca. But otherwise it was quiet. We were on a path in the middle of woodland so the scenery was unchanging and for the most part unspectacular.
But that all changed as we approached the river. Out of nowhere we came upon a bridge and large groups of people. This was where the blue path met the green one from Hreboniek, hence the crowds. There were lovely views from the bridge to the south where we could see the river winding its way through the wood, while to the north there were mini waterfalls and the highest Tatra peaks in the distance. I think the river was called Story Potovec. We continued on the blue path up the left side of the river, where there were even nicer views and better scenery.
When you are trekking in the High Tatras, you need to drink a lot as you sweat in the sunshine. A bottle or can of drink is not enough for a long hike and more would be too heavy to carry. But what are mountain springs for? Here water is pure, tasty and ... free. So, if you see a spring, stock up for the next leg of your journey. But beware - you will not encounter any springs on some trails, e.g. to Slavkovsky Stit - ask people who have been where you are going about the water in advance.
To give you access to spring water, the Slovaks can even construct interesting aqueducts, like the one in the second photo. Here, spring water has been made to flow down an indentation in a pole thrown across a ravine. The little cottage with a spout at the end of the pole makes it look like an ordinary spring.
Fondest memory: A rainy day in the Tatras can be very peaceful, a rest from hiking, time for observation and reflection. I like listening to rain pattering on the roof and watching the low clouds caressing the hills and the forest. I could watch their movement for hours. All things are quiet, no sound of log saws from afar, only the cow bells and sometimes the baaing of the sheep in the meadow nearby.
Fondest memory: You mustn't tell the Slovaks but whenever I was there I considered their Pol'ana pod Muran'om as mine and mine only. I could spend hours there staring at the mountains in the distance from my bench or watching the Javorinka river from the wooden bridge or exploring the trails nearby, or swinging on a narrow bridge - just three planks and a wooden railing - a few yards away. There were hardly ever any people there, just a few hikers on their way from the trails passed me from time to time or a TANAP car rattled past. The rest of the time the only sound I could hear was that of the brawling river. Once I saw something brown disappear in the bushes, but looked at it too late to say what it was. An animal probably. I knew bears sometimes came there and even once heard some growling, but , strangely enough, I felt safe there, afraid of neither people nor nature.
Wherever you go in the High Tatras, the scenery changes from minute to minute, so trekking the Tatras in a hurry just to reach that day's destination is an unimaginable crime of ignoring nature's beauty set before you. Take your time and see its wonders from all possible angles and in the changing light.
If possible, go and see the Tatras in various seasons, which put many different garments on them, of different shades and colours but always beautiful. In the picture, a view of Zdiar and the Belianske Tatry from a hill to the east of the village.
Favorite thing: The second highest peak of Slovak High Tatras and u can reach it by cab from Tatranska Lomnica with a stop in Skalnate pleso. Be careful when going there, tickets are pretty expensive and all depends on weather :) If u really will go try to buy tickets till 11 am :)
Favorite thing: Waterfalls can be seen when you will take a cab to Hrebienok from Stary Smokovec, it is also for lazy tourists :) Don't make a stop in Bilikova chata (just for stamped postcards for your collection :)) because if you will take some beers here you will never reach the finish :) When on Hrebienok follow the tourist mark and you will find wonderful waterfalls!
Favorite thing: Hehe and here is the photo that proves I have been there to see Symbolic Cemetery. Anyway, I forgot to mention that there is no grave on this cemetery, it is just like monument remembering the victims of these wonderful mountains. They are wonderful and exciting but sometimes also dangerous...
Favorite thing: Walking in HIgh Tatras is the main activity of course. You can climb or do another things but walking is for all. There are tons of paths for tourists ranked according to the difficulty and time needed for the walk. Tatranska magistrala is the system of these paths and you can easily go according to the map. I love the walk from Studenovodske Waterfalls to Tatranska Lomnica (it is very easy way) and the way to Skalnate pleso...(more difficult one)
Popradske pleso is really worth to see, too. As other places in High Tatras it has its special atmosphere. There is also symbolic cemetery for the victims who died in High Tatras such as mountaneers.
Favorite thing: Strba. That's the village we rented the house in. It's 19 km away from Strbske pleso so we had to drive there. But the village was so nice... We had amazing sunrises & panorama. If I ever return I'll rent the same house.
Fondest memory: That's how western part of Tatry looks in the morning. Although the weather wasn't on our side most of the day we still had nice day of hiking. The picture was taken on the 2st day of our lodging and it was our preperative tour.