Day 2 – Samotnia to Szrenica
We had a long day ahead of us and we knew it. This was the only day we were due to get some real hiking behind our belt. After a quick breakfast at the shelter we packed our packs and off we went. BUT… a short rant is in order here. I freaken hate the fact that mountain shelters have found a way to charge the casual tourist pretty much for everything. When did hot water become a chargeable commodity? I already paid you for a room to stay, you’re gonna charge me for hot water for my tea as well? I suppose I could have brought my own water and a gas stove along for the trip, but I remember better times when shelters were more tourist friendly and not goldmines. End of rant. We also made an elementary mistake of not brining enough cash with us on the trip and sure enough not a single shelter, though each had full internet access and all, would take a debit card or any plastic alike. So we were on a budget, a real tight budget at that. No rant here, our mistake, I guess 🙂
The first leg of the trip was getting back up to the top of the ridge, a treck we did a day earlier but without packs to reach the summit, take a photo, and get back to our shelter. After climbing the top again the trail seemed fairly easy with a maximum of maybe 150-200 meters in elevation difference, except in a few spots were the trail dipped heavily into a valley only to climb back up on the other side. I think those times were the most discouraging for me. After a few hours of walking, the pack was letting me know that it was there and while I knew we still had a ways to go I hated seeing the trail dip way down only to face steep. I prefer to hike in a semi blind fold that right behind every turn it’s all gonna be flat or even down hill. When you can see the trail perfectly from far away, there’s no hope of any ideal terrain coming up.
The Giant Mountains create a natural border between Poland and the Czech Republic and with no clear signs posted we weaved in and out of Poland. At times the only reason we knew we were no longer on Polish soil was the fact that all the hikers around us spoke Czech. It was a warm “Dorby Dzien” and not “Dzien Dobry” that greeted us. See the difference? 🙂 In the Polish language it seems we have it backwards. We literrally say “Day Good” as “Hello” instead of the proper Czech’s way “Good Day”.
Czech’s also have a much simpler way of getting to the top; they can drive pretty much all the way up, park on a giant parking lot, and hike in sandals while giving us the “why are you so tired” look. I’m not hatin’ here, I’m just jealous they thought of an infrastructure, built a couple of hotels, and are making it easier for people to enjoy nature while the Polish side seems stuck in a whole different century. And if you ever stayed in any of the Polish shelters you’d know what I’m talking about. They’re cozy and rustic, but that’s all they can be since they’re so old and underinvested in.
It took us about 10 hours to hike some 19km (~12 miles) and for the casual hikers that we are it was enough to make us appreciate a good meal and a bed to sleep in at the Szrenica shelter. We spent our last money on a tomato soup and a couple of beds in an 8 bed room, though no one showed up and we had the room to ourselves. The funny thing is that the lady at the counter seeing as we were counting all of the coins in our pocket for the meal served us a couple of pieces of cake for desert, on the house. I felt stupid and humble. We had money, just no cash. I appreciate the gesture though and highly recommend the service over at the Szrenica shelter.
Day 3 – Szrenica to Szklarska Poręba
We had only one yet very major goal for the day; to make a 9am bus in Szklarska Poreba back to Karpacz were we left our car. The two cities are 27km apart but have a very crappy bus service linking them together; 9am or 6pm is all there is. To make the 9am bus we left our shelter at 6 in the morning, which felt nearly impossible the day before but came rather easy the morning of as we knew the 9 hour wait time would seem forever if we missed that morning bus.
The only word that comes to mind when describing the two hour descent back to the city is: boring! The trail is really an access road covered with pavement, cement blocks, rocks, or pretty much anything that was handy when making the road. It makes for a really boring hike just walking on semi-paved road. There really isn’t much to add to that.
We made it to the city with about an hour to spare and the first thing we picked up was cash at a bank machine. Then we got some really good coffee at a local corner coffee shop and a couple of breakfast sandwiches. Local stuff is the best, no Starbucks here. We didn’t take the bus after all. As we waited and the bus depot some lady said that if we can get 7 people together we could get a taxi for the same money. Sure enough it took just a minute to get 7 people on board and a taxi van drove us back to Karpacz. It saved us about half an hour and the taxi driver dropped us off pretty much at our car.
Karolina and I often spoke of completing the Karpacz to Szklarska hike, and we’re really happy we managed to pull it off. Now that I talk to people I often hear of others doing it all in one day, but we were in no hurry so why rush it? Time to plan another trip soon.