Trip to Kamień nad Jaśliskami, Lower Beskids, Poland-Slovakia

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On the Polish-Slovak border, in wild but not high mountains called Lower Beskids there is a massif Kamień nad Jaśliskami (The rock above Jaśliska). I started my 9-hours trip there and back from absolutely magic place – student shelter in Zyndranowa. It is wooden cottage once used by forest workers, now run by student tourist guides association from Rzeszów. I had an opportunity to act as a host there for one week and later lived there as a guest for another one. If one need a place to rest from noise of the city and is not afraid that the only running water is nearby stream (there’s also a well) that’s just the place. The cost per night is 10 zł, about 2 EURO. Vast forests in area still deliver a lot of timber. I took forest road which meandered on Kiczera Klepke hill and headed towards Kamień. After a few kilometers the road abruptly ended – forest workers had got only to this point. So, equipped with good traditional paper map and compass I set off through the bushes and trees.

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About an hour later I reached an edge of the forest with beautiful view of meadows and green hills. Blue tourist trail led me to Czeremcha village. But not without obstacles. The trail crossed Biełcza stream, but beaver family dammed the stream up in at least two places, above and below my path and I had to detour a bit and walk through their dam.

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It wasn’t that easy not to lose balance. Eventually I got to Czeremcha village or rather what history left from it… After the II WW, in 1947r. all inhabitants of village were replaced by communists government to USSR or north-west Poland, many hundreds kilometres away. Not a single building was left standing. Nature through almost 70 years took over the land. Now there is wonderful peace and quietness where once people lived along the road which were through centuries used as one of main track for import_ing excellent wine (e.g. Tokay) from Hungary to Poland. Nowadays one can see empty space where the orthodox church stood, only a cross left propped by a tree and a few old stony graves with or without crosses.

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There’s also one new grave, in 2008 Janet Fuchila who was born in USA, but whose mother lived in Czeremcha was buried here with accordance to her wish.

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Leaving the remnants of Czeremcha I found a bit rusty … don’t know what exactly.

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It can be a musquette used in I WW as in the area were fierce battles between Russian and Austro-Hungarian armies. In Lower Beskids people still find traces of I and II WW. I moved further toward Pl-Sl border and when reached it entered again into thick forest, the red trail leaded me along the border up the range of Kamień, 857 m.a.s.

 

On rather flat top of the hill are 7 small cemeteries from I WW, 6 on Slovak and 1 on Polish side.

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By an entrance to the “Polish” one there is a bell hunged on a tree with sign saying “PODZWOŃ… nam poległym w walce i cierpieniu. Na KAMIENIU powstała sława naszego życia i śmierci” (Ring the bell … for us died in fight and suffering. Glory of our life and death emerged on Kamień Hill).

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Sad thought came then to my mind that it is possible that some of soldiers lying there were killed with bayonette I found. The weather changed for worse, fog began to cover top of Kamień so I started descending. On my way down I passed through old, closed years ago quarries, first one called Okrągła Wysypa and second Nad Sinym Wyrem.

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Huge, over 10-20 metres high stony walls impressed me.

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When I reached the dirty road again I followed first blue then black trail which leaded me directly to cosy shelter in Zyndranowa.

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It was so good to sit close to hot old oven filled with burning wood after 9 hours of wandering including the last hour in rain.

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Skiing in wonderful ice-land

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Once again we went skiing to Chyrowa in Beskid Niski, Poland. What we saw off the beaten track was amazingly beatiful.

Every branch of tree and bush was covered with thick coat of ideal transparent ice.

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We couldn’t help taking more and more pictures, here are just a few of them.

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It was like in fairy-tale, Narnia or something.

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It was really hard to come back at evening from this paradise to grey, snow-les and ice-les winter town.

How to start skiing season painfully

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Two weeks of January have passed. We hadn’t ski boots on our feet yet. Last Saturday was to be start of skiing season for us but weather forecast predicted precipitation of … rain. And they were right. Another lost week without skiing. Next Saturday forecast – no rain, although last time it was snowing … so long ago I don’t remember. It isn’t even cold, about +5 C. But what are snowmaking machines for? Fortunately in Polish Beskid Niski Mountains at least at night temperature was slightly below 0 C, so there is some 30 cm of mostly artificial snow on slopes. Decision – we’re going to open ski season at last.

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6 am, Saturday. Normal people are sleeping, but probably we’re not quite normal. We have about 85 km of twisty, partly mountain road to go to get to a ski slope. We must be there by 9 am when ski lift starts, to have our first downhills on ideal immaculate-snowgroomered surface of slope, before it is ploughed by other skiers and what’s worse snowboarders.

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My son Michal, who usually gets up at 10 am or sometimes 12 am on Saturdays makes exceptions for skiing and I’m grateful for that.

7 am, robust portion of scrambled eggs and off we go. Direction – south, no highway unfortunately, in accordance to government plans there will be one from my town to Beskid Niski already in 2040, of course if everything goes well. Last resolution to do – where exactly do we want to start ski season? There are 2 options: Chyrowa (A) and Puławy (B). Both are in reasonable distance of about 85 km from our town to make 1 day ski trip to. (A) has a bit better access, probably a bit better slope (subjective valuation though) and a poma/platter/button skilift, whilst (B) has a double chair skilift. We chose A (no chair, what a fool I proved to be) and it was our, or rather my second mistake.

9.00 am, Chyrowa. Shackle ski boots are already on our feet, 7 hours tickets (third mistake, 4 hours would be really enough ) bought and up we go.

9.05 we reach the top of the hill, 3    2    1   start!!! That is the only moment when I think there is any point in creating winter at all. Sheer pleasure of downhill. Slope is not very long, about 1.000 metres, but we don’t live in the Alpes unfortunately.

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9.08 am, second time going up. And about 40 times more till it was 4 p.m. and our last lift. And last downhill, with my shins sore and painful calfs + thighs on the verge of contraction.

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4.20 pm, we’re back in car, when I drive I feel horrible pain in left thigh every time I press clutch. And as I wrote earlier the road is twisty and I have to change gear often, much too often. Why didn’t I buy automatic gear?? (Stupid question – it is too expensive and driving it is not fun and I didn’t suppose I’d ever drive it with thigh on a verge of contraction).

6.00 pm, we’re back home happy seeing the rest of our family preparing pizza! Great timing, I like it.

6.20 pm, OMG, why does it hurt so awfully when I tried to get up from armchair???

– Michal, are your legs OK, any pain?

-OK, why?

It’s so pleasant to be teenager, I suppose.

Two months earlier, one month earlier, one week earlier, one day earlier – I did no preparing for winter ski season, no squads, no lungets and almost no other exercises. And it was the first mistake I made.

But altogether, despite all the pain I felt after, it was a fantastic day!