Thursday, May 05, 2016

The High Tatras - Stary Smokovec to Strbske Pleso

The High Tatra Mountains straddle the Slovakia-Poland border. We based ourselves in Stary Smokovec to do some hiking on the Slovakian Side. The area is busy with skiers in the winter and hikers in the summer. We were there the first week of May, an in-between season; too warm for skiing and too early for the best hiking as there is snow cover on the highest peaks and many trails are closed.

Nevertheless, the hiking was still pretty good. One day we walked from our pension in Stary Smokovec up to a series of waterfalls, then up to about 1500 meters to a viewpoint. The second day we rode the train to Strbske Pleso, the largest ski resort in the Slovakian Tatras and walked up to a natural lake that was still mostly frozen.

And what did we think of the Tatras? There were more hikers than we expected for a Tuesday and a Wednesday, although many were school kids on outings. Stary Smokovec was lively in the mornings when hikers were setting out, and then again in the early evening when they returned.

We were surprised to see the terrible devastation to the forest by bark beetles. Yes, in some places the views are better but overall it's depressing.

And when we saw a habituated red fox on the hiking trail, we were reminded of Yosemite where very easy access to the wilderness for multitudes of humans may not be in the best interest of man or beast.

It took three buses to get us from Banska Stiavnice to Stary Smokovec. Riding the bus in Slovakia has been easy. The larger cities have nice bus terminals like this one in Banska Bystrica where we stopped for a 25 minute lunch break.
Stary Smokovec, Slovakia

Our first view of the Tatras was from the bus window. Bonus: racing the train.
Stary Smokovec, Slovakia

The Grand Hotel in Stary Smokovec was built around 1904, about the time the area was developed for tourism.
Stary Smokovec, Slovakia

Stary Smokovec, Slovakia

We stayed in the more modest Pension Mon Ami.
Stary Smokovec, Slovakia

Walking up to Hrebienok along the funicular railway.
Stary Smokovec, Slovakia

Stary Smokovec, Slovakia

Stary Smokovec, Slovakia

To the waterfalls.
Stary Smokovec, Slovakia

Vodopády Studeného Waterfall.
Stary Smokovec, Slovakia

Information.
Stary Smokovec, Slovakia

Downed trees, killed by bark beetles.

Stary Smokovec, Slovakia

Then we followed the Red Trail aka The Magistrála which is quite rocky in some places.
Stary Smokovec, Slovakia

Stary Smokovec, Slovakia

The viewpoint where we ate lunch and then turned around was quite popular...
Stary Smokovec, Slovakia

Stary Smokovec, Slovakia

...with views to both the valley and the mountains.
Stary Smokovec, Slovakia

Stary Smokovec, Slovakia

Stary Smokovec, Slovakia

Two older-than-me women meet on the trail.

Stary Smokovec, Slovakia

The red fox.....who then looked me right in the eye.
Stary Smokovec, Slovakia

More bark beetle devastation.
Stary Smokovec, Slovakia

Again as we walked down along the funicular trail, more deforested areas.
Stary Smokovec, Slovakia

Stary Smokovec, Slovakia

The electric train that runs between the High Tatra resort towns. Very convenient.
Stary Smokovec, Slovakia

Stary Smokovec Station is very busy in the early evening when hikers and walkers return.
Stary Smokovec, Slovakia

Dinner at Koliba Kamzík restaurant: grilled veggies; traditional potato noodles with cheese, and a dark Saris beer.
Stary Smokovec, Slovakia

Day Two we rode a very crowded train to Strbske Pleso ski resort which is set around a lake.
Strbske Pleso, Tatras, Slovakia

Strbske Pleso, Tatras, Slovakia

Strbske Pleso, Tatras, Slovakia

And next to the lake, at the foot of the lifts, ski jumps.
Strbske Pleso, Tatras, Slovakia

And again, up the Magistrála.
Strbske Pleso, Tatras, Slovakia

Strbske Pleso, Tatras, Slovakia

Strbske Pleso, Tatras, Slovakia

To the still frozen lake at ~1500 meters.
Strbske Pleso, Tatras, Slovakia

Strbske Pleso, Tatras, Slovakia

Strbske Pleso, Tatras, Slovakia

The rain and ice pellets move in. We move out.
Strbske Pleso, Tatras, Slovakia

Strbske Pleso, Tatras, Slovakia

Almost back to the train station and the sun is out.
Strbske Pleso, Tatras, Slovakia

Strbske Pleso, Tatras, Slovakia

2 comments:

Kathy said...

Very sorry to read about the beetles. When I was there in 2006 there were areas of devastation, but it was from a bad storm. It was also warmer - no ice on the lake! (Bet you did that hike to the lake a lot faster than I did!)

Crash Eddy said...

Off in the weeds in Slovakia and you find a train. We can't build one from Raleigh to RTP. I guess we need Trump as president and he can "Make America Great Again" if he get a train from Raleigh to RTP. Oh! Sorry!