Day Three: The Better Part of Valentine

Searching for Another Route

We awoke slowly on Sunday morning. We planned to have a lie-in before our next day of training. Our long hike of the previous day, our battle against the wind, and residual jet-lag made recovery necessary.

As I ate my ration of avocado, cucumber, and bread to the other’s disdain, they searched for coffee, a hot breakfast, and a wall plug to charge their mobile phones. There were many guests downstairs including several families. Although Samotnia could accommodate more overnight visitors, the small number of guests meant prompt service. The Männer quickly got what they wanted.

A Warm Breakfast at Samotnia

A Warm Breakfast at Samotnia

After breakfast, we put on our crampons and hiked up the hill past Akademicka. The trail started to thaw in the unseasonably slightly above freezing temperatures.

Surveying the Area

Surveying the Area
© Copyright El Jefe 2016

We chose a spot near the ski lift where we could put on our snowshoes. The moist snow was above our ankles because it did not freeze the night before. I checked the slope and surrounding area for a decent incline to slide down. I only found a wind slab with melt-freeze snow, which was too dangerous and avalanche prone to attempt. We settled on traversing the ski slope. When I lost the snow baskets on my poles and turned back to retrieve them, I noticed the Männer were exploring alternative routes down the slope. Like giddy little schoolboys, they blazed their own trails in the snow.

Instruction on the Ski Slope

Instruction on the Ski Slope
© Copyright El Jefe 2016

Down Slope

Down Slope
© Copyright El Jefe 2016

Don Slopski

Don Slopski
© Copyright El Jefe 2016

To our dismay, it became clear that we wouldn’t find a decent incline to practice on. Following the ski slope back down to Karpacz wasn’t an option for a rest day.

Traversing the Ski Slope

Traversing the Ski Slope
© Copyright El Jefe 2016

We looped back towards Akademicka to take a break and grab some lunch. The trail to the hut had enough snow for our snowshoes, but there was not enough snow for downhill skiing. The grassy tops of moguls dotted the landscape like punctuation marks on a written page. Wells formed in the outcropping of trees. We finally understood why the ski lifts were not running. There wasn’t enough snow.

At Akademicka, we ate a prepared meal for lunch. The food didn’t compare to the freshly made entrees we had at Samotnia, but the coffee warmly satisfied us and gave us a caffeine boost before we headed out again.

It was early afternoon by the time we left the hut. I wanted to make another loop despite the approaching mixture of rain, sleet, and snow. Back at the ski lift, Valentine spoke up. He admitted being tired. He wanted to go back to Samotnia. I was impressed by his forthcoming.

Searching for Another Route

Searching for Another Route
© Copyright El Jefe 2016

El Jefe and I decided to continue; but, as the weather conditions got worse, we became convinced that heading back was the right choice. I waited too long to put on my rain pants and was soaking wet. El Jefe was bored with the route and kept carelessly experimenting with tree wells. Valentine was right: discretion was our only option left.

“Mysery, like yoga, is not a competitive sport.”
Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig

El Jefe and I cut our loop short and sought the refuge of our mountain hut in the sleety rain. Valentine was waiting for us downstairs in the common room. We entered the room like two wet dogs, who were left out in the rain.

“How was it,” Valentine asked.

“Zounds,” I replied.

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