Clear mind

Trip Start May 24, 2006
Trip End Aug 02, 2006

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Flag of Slovakia  ,
Sunday, July 16, 2006

It was very convient and welcome that Katka, a friend from Valleyfair, happened to be going to the Zapadne Tatry Mountains at the same time I wanted to go to the High Tatras. Her brother was originally supposed to be the third in their party, but then he backed out and now her mother backed out, so I gladly became the third member in the party. I was planning on going to the mountains, but I'm not finicky. Plus it was much better to go along with someone more experienced on the trails, and of course, it was good to spend more time with Katka.

The mountains are amazing. They're fairly high, I learn that they're 2000 m above sea level but the town below at the bottom is already about 1000 m above sea level. The trees are so tall, the air is so fresh, the view is amazing. Now I understand why Slovakians love to be in the mountains.

I knew that we'd be going up about 1km in elevation and that we'd be walking pretty much 10 hours straight. Katka kept on asking if I'd be alright. I kept on saying yeah. I've done the Grand Canyon before, I walked up a tall hill in Santorini, and also went down to the old port there, and I've carried my backpack at 45 lbs for 3 hours straight before. I felt ready. I don't think I was as mentally prepared as I should've been.

The first part of the journey was great, there were trails and we got to the peaks and the view was amazing. The second part was alright. There was a heavy fog, and it was getting colder, so it was not worth the current walk, but I knew it'd be a big accomplishment. The cold wind made it feel like in the 30s F and without it, it still felt like the low 60s F. Then when we got to the second peak Rohace, things changed. It was very rocky. And Katka's sister started climbing the rocks. I was game and I tried it. I've done rock walls before on beginner level, but I hadn't been properly trained. Katka told me to always have three points (limbs) stable before moving the next one. That was all I needed and I was able to get beyond that. Earlier she also told me there would be chains. I was thinking like ropes courses or something. On some sharp terrain, instead of climbing the rocks, you held onto the chain and climbed up. And on both sides of the climber, there was nothing. You let go of the chain and fall, you fall bad. I was terrified on the first chain. I thought that it would be best to go back. But I knew I had to try. The height so far hadn't gotten to me, and my self confidence wasn't up yet. So I just went up and I made it. I figured out that wrapping the chain around my arm as I held onto it made me feel safer. It wasn't until we got down that Katka told me she was afraid on that first chain as well. The rest I wasn't terrified. I'd grab onto rocks with my hands along the way while others would just step down, but I was doing decently for a first-timer.

The views were amazing and I've climbed my first mountain. That's something I can never say again. It was an unique experience and I'll never forget it.
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