Pretty hiking

Trip Start Nov 15, 2005
Trip End Aug 15, 2008

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Flag of Slovakia  ,
Monday, August 21, 2006

What with it being the time of year for it, and me being in Slovakia, one of Europe's greatest outdoorsy countries, I figured I should get some more hiking in while I could. Unfortunately, due to the slight fall he took in the Low Tatras, Simon was suffering from a badly swolen toe that was preventing him from walking too comfortably, so I spent a couple of days hiking here by myself.

Having learnt the lesson before, when I arrived in Martin (which seemed to be close to the Mala Fatra range), I made sure to ask about getting into the park before booking accomodation. It turned out that my best bet (with what was available and I could afford) was to base myself in Vrutky for a couple of days. A shame the town is a complete dump, but at least I didn't have to spend much time there, and it was only a 30 minute walk to the nearest trailhead.

Initially, I was a little unsure about the Mala Fatra. I had heard good things, but on the afternoon I turned up, I got out for a quick 4 hour walk to check the map timings (see, I'm learning!). I wasn't ever so impressed with what I saw. Pleasant enough, but not the waterfall wonderland I had been led to believe it would be. It was with some reservations that I set out the next day on a longer hike.

I need not have worried, though the first three hours did little to dispel my doubts. This was because I couldn't see further than about 10 yards ahead of me. Still, at least I got to climb to the first major peak (Suchy) before it got hot. Just a shame I couldn't see anything.

The path I chose took me along the major ridge of mountains in the range, taking in the two highest peaks along the way. Shortly after leaving Suchy, the cloud began to lift and strange, sentinel like rock formations suddenly began to appear out of the murk. About twenty minutes in, and the sun finally appeared and I could see Maly Krivan, the second highest peak, in the distance. There were some great views along the way, down to the valley in which I was staying and also out the other side, to the mountains bordering the Czech Republic. Irritatingly, the cloud descended again just as I reached Maly Krivan, so once again I was denied the panorama I had been hoping for. Sitting to have lunch in the mist, it cleared once I had walked not more than 10 minutes. Nature seems to have a nasty sense of humour.

Thankfully, it remained clear after that, and the shortish walk to Velky Krivan (1700 and something metres) took in many smaller peaks and great views. I was quite surprised at just how busy it became, though I suppose the ridge walk is quite a popular one. Despite this, I was hoping for a quiet moment or two up at the highest point. I was mildly surprised and more than a little pissed off, then, to find a german tour group and several families occupying my space up there. It seems they've built a cable car almost to the top of the mountain, specifically to annoy those of us who have walked for about 6 hours to get there. I didn't hang around for long.

The route down led me through what I had missed on the way up because of the cloud - Black Forest-pretty woodland, complete with gushing streams and a rather lovely waterfall. A shame it started to rain shortly after, but by then I was within an hour of the train station, so I didn't have to stay wet for too long.

A rather lovely (if not spectacular) 10 hour walk.
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