Day One: Boots on the Ground

Nearing Samotnia Hut

We arrived at the car park in Karpacz, Poland later than anticipated. We got off to a slow start in the morning. A breakfast of champions helped us start the day right, but gear checks and inner city traffic congestion caused our delay. Navigational miscues from the GPS in our rental car didn’t help us improve our pace despite my hurried effort on the German autobahn.

Eating a Berliner for Breakfast

Eating a Berliner for Breakfast
© Copyright El Jefe 2016

We made the drive to Poland in a little over four hours. We quickly changed into our boots in the snow-covered parking lot.

Car Park in Karpacz, Poland

Car Park in Karpacz, Poland

Our first hike together was a brisk 1 km climb on a cobblestone road to the trailhead. This early pitch was the most difficult of the day. With our backpacks averaging 20 kg in weight and with our plastic double boots on, we have the most comfortable approach. We adjusted our gear and experienced our first gut check outside the Vang Church, whose beautiful timbers gave us a proper welcome to the trees of the Karkonosze National Park.

At the Trailhead Near the Vang Church

At the Trailhead Near the Vang Church
© Copyright El Jefe 2016

The trailhead slowly disappeared behind us as we walked along a snowy path. Our footing was excellent in the 28° Fahrenheit temperature. The snow was solid and crispy underfoot without being too icy. 

Karkonosze National Park

Karkonosze National Park
© Copyright El Jefe 2016

We encountered many day hikers coming down for the day as we continued our progress upwards. Most greeted us with a casual, “Dobry dzien” or “Dobry”. A few stopped to ask us what we were doing with so much equipment especially our ice axes and snowshoes. At least, I assume that’s what they asked us. I don’t understand much Polish; but, by the time we reached the hut, I had developed the perfect reply to every sentence in Polish. I would politely nod my head and smile while saying, “Tak, Tak,” (yes, yes). My trick almost convinced the Männer that I understood what the passerby’s were saying to us.

We stayed on the frozen service road all the way to the hut. The hard, cobblestone surface was covered with snow. I would have preferred a parallel side rout through the trees, but I was advised to avoid it due to winter avalanche danger.

Nearing Samotnia Hut

Nearing Samotnia Hut
© Copyright El Jefe 2016

We arrived at the hut well before sundown. I confirmed our arrangements with the hut’s manager in a mixture of German, English, and Polish. At one point, she sought the assistance of Connor, an English speaking student who worked at the hut. He helped us clear up our misunderstandings except the one that I created. In Karpacz, I mistakenly withdrew the amount of cash that I wanted to spend in euros instead of zloty—400 zloty instead of 400 euros worth of zloty! After paying for our accommodations, I had just enough cash for a warm meal, but not enough for the rest of the trip. The mountain hut, 5 km from town, was fortunately everywhere we wanted to be. They accepted Visa.

Visa: Everywhere You Want to Be

Visa: Everywhere You Want to Be
© Copyright El Jefe 2016

After a beer and a light supper of Biggos and pierogies, the jetlagged Männer went to bed early. We wanted to start our first snowshoe tour early the next day.

Print

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *