In July, Jeremy and I traveled through Eastern Europe. This leg of our trip took us on a trek through the High Tatras in Slovakia and Poland.
Jeremy woke me up at some point between 4AM and 5AM in a room full of bunks and strangers. He whispered at me to look out the window where we were greeted with one of the most beautiful sunrises ever. We slept in adjacent bunks at a 90 degree angle – head-to-head.
We officially woke up at 6:30AM, packed up our bags and met up for breakfast before heading out for what would turn out to be a really long day.
One of the reasons we chose Poland (and here we’re actually trekking through Slovakia – the country just south of Poland) is because Jeremy knew that he wanted to see Eastern Europe and I knew I wanted to go on another trekking adventure. When I was looking into guided trekking options lots of them included transfers – meaning we would be walking all day, then transferred by bus to another location to another national park. But I liked the idea of traveling via my own two feet. Taking my own body from Point A to Point B to Point C and so on.
When we chose our adventure we were looking at the difficulty of the trek in relation to the Everest Base Camp trek. This hiked through the Tatras, though not nearly as high in altitude, was rated a little more difficult. I remember thinking “yeah right… the altitude is 9,500ft. max. how hard can it really be?” Oooh… silly Kathleen from June 2012. If only I could go back and tell you how hard it would be you’d A) train a little harder B) drink a little less and C) check your ego.
Because you guys… this trek was hard. The trails were never flat. My boots quickly started to wear holes into my heels and bruise my ankles. There were lots of ups and downs – and lots of weight on our back.
At one point it got really cloud and the view both looking up and down was identical – it was incredibly disorienting and surreal. But also really beautiful. But by this point I knew I was in pain. Putting one foot in front of the other didn’t require a steady breath but mental focus that left me exhausted – physically and mentally.
We stopped at an observatory for a lunch of bread and cheese and carbonated water that tasted a little bit like sulphur. From there we trekked to a small lodge and dropped off our bags to trek up to the cold lakes. And you guys… it was cold. I feel like maybe because it was so hot in Oklahoma this summer we forgot cold was a thing. And maybe I was underestimating how cold it would get even at 6,000 ft.
I have exactly ONE photo of the very beautiful, but very cold lake. Because by this point the pain I was in was very clearly manifesting itself in my body and it was very very cold. We ordered hot chocolates and beers and the lodge was decorated with posters of the Himalayas and Tibetan flags (for whatever reason) – and it made it very apparent to me that I wasn’t there… and that’s where I wanted to be.
We made our way back to our lodge and had dinner, beers and vodka. We were trekking with a super sweet English doctor named Georgia who hooked me up with some anti-inflammatories. It didn’t quite take the pain away but it gave me hope.