I left you on the Tatra mountains, roughly halfway between Zakopane and the Slovakia border. I was soaking wet, and running on some very water-logged trails, and having loads of fun. The flat, wide and dry touristy trails turned into waterlogged impromptu rivers, and these finally turned into firm earthy single-track trails.
While I ran through the forest, I could smell a wonderful wet and earthy decay. That wonderful smell of nature composting dead branches and leaves back into earth from which new trees will grow. It was misty weather, so everything had a slightly mystical nature. I felt like I was running in one of the many fantasy novels that I have read.
The view from the top was spectacular. I had finally run above the forest, so I could look down at the trees. I couldn’t see much besides the tops of the trees just in front of me, but it felt liberating to stand there, having run all the way to the top.
When I say “to the top”, I was only about 1/2 way to Slovakia; I had already climbed over 500m in about 7km, and that was the easy part of the trail. I very much doubt you would be able to run the second half to Slovakia. It would be a very tough hike.
Here is the route I took if you want to see it. https://www.strava.com/activities/702351830
Some quick notes on safety.
- I had the Tatra mountain rescue number in my phone. For reference it is +48 601 100 300
- I pre-loaded my route into my GPS watch, and my wife had a copy of my route
- I took water & some food with me
- I took a space blanket, first aid kit, compass, mountain maps, windbreaker & gloves with me
- I make sure Lois know my expected arrival time, and gave her a suggested window before she worry
- My phone was fully charged
In my previous post I was telling you how good the trails in Zakopane were to start with. Well as soon as I got off the flat touristy trails it got wet…very wet…By now I was very much alone, and very much wet!
There was so much water running off the mountain that the trails turned into rivers. This is part of the trail that I ran up. Yes, this is a trail – not a river.
Two rivers joining an even bigger river.
And more of the trail. At first I tried to stick to the edges and keep my feet dry, but soon I revised that it was hopeless, so I embraced the water and ran straight through the water. My feet got soaking wet. But I was having so much fun. I hadn’t felt so alive in ages!
To be continued…
One of the things I wanted to do in Zakopane was to go running in the mountains, so I make sure to pack my basic trail running kit (hydration pack, first aid kit, space blanket, compass etc). It was pouring with rain for the entire day before my run, so I knew that the trails would be wet, but it was far more wet than I expected.
It started very civilized. The trails were wide, flat and well-maintained, and on the route I encountered groups of tourists & families going for morning walks. It reminded me of a very wet Newlands forest.
The beginning of the trail. There are loads of trails on the Tatra mountains (you can even cross the border into Slovakia if you go all the way), so I just picked a random route up beforehand and started running. By the way the trail maps are excellent, so it was easy to figure out a rough route and avoid getting lost.
Everybody was hiking in their winter clothes – jeans, thick jerseys and sturdy hiking boots. I was running in my usual running gear. A technical short and lycra shorts.
The rivers were flowing fast, and there were plenty of sturdy bridges crossing these small gorges
To be continued…
I have now completed three trail runs over the past month. The last one was the Helderberg Mountain Challenge yesterday. Trail running is far more crazy than road running. Sometimes you run on a gravel road, sometimes on a thin mountain path, and quite often you are climbing up a river bed, looking for the next contour.
A 10km run usually takes me just over an hour, but on this trail it took 1:40; it is a much more difficult route. You have to take all your own water with you, and on the longer runs you need to carry space blankets and first aid kits. In total we went up 600m, and of course down another 600m.
I didn’t take my camera with me, but I did have my trusty phone, this shot is a panorama shot of the Somerset West vineyards, heading towards the Strand on the right.