We planned a hike in the mountains for yesterday, but first we had to get to the mountains!
We had to take the Tatra Electric Railway to get from Poprad to the town of Stary Smokevek at the base of the mountains. This is a very popular mountain area with lots of hiking and lots of people! The train was pretty full with outdoor types, although there is also a gondola ride up there, so some people were just going for that.
View of the mountains from the Poprad train station.
Got off the train with lots of other people heading into the mountains.
The train cost €1.50 ($1.88) each way per person, for the 13 km (8 mile) journey. So our total round trip cost was €6.00 ($7.50).
We had two different plans. One involved hiking to the top of a mountain, but it was a one way journey of 7.4 kms (4.6 miles) and it was uphill every step of the way with an elevation gain of almost 1,500 meters (4,900 feet). And, once you were at the top you had to retrace your steps back down. The second plan was to go on the same trail until it meets up with another trail that takes you along the side of the mountain to a hotel and lake that's another 5 kms (3 miles) away. We figured we would decide what to do when we reached that intersection.
So we set off...
Do we really want to go all the way up there??
It's one hour to the intersection, or five hours to the top!
The problem was that we had a bit of a late start. It was already after 11:00am at this point, and a five hour hike to the top would put us at 4:00pm and that's if everything went well. Then we would have to make our way down.
The lack of trees.
There was a huge windstorm that devastated this area in November 2004. Winds of 108 mph toppled trees in the mature forest. There were more trees broken and blown down during this storm than the entire Slovak logging industry cuts in an entire year. It's going to take many more years to become what it once was.
We got to the intersection, and unfortunately we decided on plan B. We had already climbed about 365 meters (1,200 feet) and the worst would have still been ahead. We headed along the route that would take us to the hotel and lake.
About two hours into it, we're getting some beautiful views though!
Trail in the mountains.
Kevin, getting close to the hotel.
There is a pretty lake and waterfall at the hotel. We sat here and had our lunch.
Looking back at the mountains.
It was almost 4:00pm when we made it back to Stary Smokovek and we were just in time for the train back to Poprad. We had done 13.7 kms (8.5 miles) and had a really nice day despite feeling a little disappointed in ourselves for not taking on a more "arduous" hike. But we were tired enough as it was, so perhaps our decision was a wise one.
We went back to the same spot for dinner last night. I had the pork ribs, and Ruth had stuffed baked potato with a ground beef and cheese mixture.
Mmmm...dinner. That's not a normal beer by the way. I ordered what I thought was a different brand of beer, and ended up with a shandy type of drink. Beer mixed with lemonade or 7-Up or something. Not my thing.
Poprad square at dusk.
Today, we're off to see an ice cave! This should be interesting!