We began the day rather late leaving Wroclaw just before noon. Karpacz is only 127 kilometers away (80miles), but on Polish crappy single-lane roads it still takes a better part of two hours to get there. Once in Karpacz, finding parking for two nights wasn’t easy. Simply put, I did not find a place at all where I could leave my car for a few days, much less find a place that’s safe enough guaranteeing my car would still be there when we got back. Finally giving in to a paid parking option, I was quoted 45zl (~$15) for a two night parking at a big private parking lot, but the guy at the gate seeing that I am not interested mentioned a home near by where the owner allows parking for cheaper. It was 30zl in total (~$10), 15zl per night, but at least the car was safe at a single home’s parking space. Good enough.
From the parking we hiked up to the Wang (Vang) church, an old Norwegian church from the city of Vang that was disassembled in 1842, brought over from Norway, and then reassembled again here in Karpacz. We’ve never been inside, but from the outside it looks pretty amazing. The national park entrance is right next to it, and after we bought our passes, we hiked on to the Samotnia shelter.
Samotnia is probably the nicest tourist shelter in the region, and it’s been in operation since year 1670! It’s got a very rustic atmosphere about it and is very well maintained as opposed to the more run down shelters spread around these mountains. It sits right next to a small lake but that’s only for the looks, no one’s allowed to actually swim in these cold mountain waters. Shame.
Keep in mind that Karkonosze, or the Giant Mountains as they’re known in English, have a very good trail system in place and there’s no need to ever hike off-trail. The mostly rocky roads are well maintained and sometimes feel as if you’re not really in the mountains at all. You can imagine my disappointment when after hours of hiking I’m getting passed by a Land Rover with the driver slowly sipping on hot coffee… Only specially permitted cars are allowed of course.
Once we dropped off our gear at the shelter it was still early enough to keep on climbing to the highest peak in the region, Śnieżka, topping off at 1,602 metres (5,256 ft). Easy money now that we didn’t have to carry our heavy packs. From far away we noticed a helicopter making low altitude passes just above the peak and as it turns out it was a concrete delivery method for the Czech construction crew at the top.
Once at the top we stayed up just long enough to get a few photos of the chopper, but since the restaurant atop was closed there really isn’t much to do there. No beer, no food, no point. We set on down towards our shelter and just in time too as it was slowly getting dark.
We made a total of 13km’s (8 miles) that day which isn’t much but we did have some pretty significant elevation gains that made us feel the hike that evening.