Lessons learned and summary
- The hike can be done in both directions (Telgárt <–> Donovaly)
- Camping within the Low Tatras National Park is allowed only in designed areas.
- You can finish the first stage in a hut – “Andrejcová Útulňa” or continue to a tourist shed in Piehyba pass (I would recommend to stay in the hut)
I wake up at the break of dawn, looking outside of a train window, watching the hilly landscape run by. This was my best train night ride so far (despite a lively party of a group of guys in the neighbouring coupé and a fierce heat). We departed at around 9 pm from Prague central station heading to Telgárt – a small village famous for its viaduct situated in eastern Slovakia. Telgárt will be our point of departure.
The crossing of Low Tatras can be done either from east to west (i.e. from Telgárt (886 m.n.m.) to Donovaly (972 m.n.m.)) or the other way around. We go for the first option which seems to be the less common one. Both ways have their pros and cons. The disadvantage of our choice is evident from the very beginning – as soon as we leave the village, we immediately begin to climb a huge steep hill. The weather is pretty muggy and humid, breathing hurts. It´s a sharp start with limited chance to warm-up little-by-little.
After 2.5 hours wefinally reach an iconic landamark – Kráľova hoľa (1,946 m.n.m.) – a mountain with communications tower. Ubiquitous thick mist and no views seem to be our reward…Well you can´t win them all…
From Kráľova hoľa the trail continues as a pleasant ridge path. The clouds begin to disperse and a view of valleys as well as the ridge opens up in front of us. The feeling of euphoria takes over. The fortune has changed, no more bad luck. As we go on, we enjoy this easy path and observe marmots running around their little burrows. As a typical non-ultralight hiker, I’m also carrying binoculars and so I’m happy that I get a chance to use it.
There are still few more hills to climb today like Orlová or Bartková before we can descend a bit. On the very last stretch – 2 kilometers before the finish line (Útulňa Andrejcová) – I’m already pretty tired. A fresh bear’s poop finding at around 200 m far from the hut wakes me up immediatelly. I’m thinking whether spending a night outside in our tent is a good idea. Shouldn’t we rather stay in the hut? But c’mon we’ve already experienced a terrifying night with bear(s)….lightning never strikes twice. And so we dare to stay outside by the hut (with a kind permission of the owner).
The hut is a really nice place and offers everything one needs….washroom in the form of clean water running from a pipe, 2 outhouses “Búdka” and “Kadi”, a place for a tent, picnic tables, beer, Kofola (lemonade) as well as kapustnica (local soup with cabbage and sausage). We spent a pleasant evening and a night here.