Three trains, two flights and fourteen hours from Baltimore, I found myself in the old city of Krakow. It was very quiet at this hour.
I took a few practice shots before grabbing a bus for Zakopane to start my hike.
Three hours south of Krakow, at the very bottom of Poland, sits the town of Zakopane. It is the birthplace of my favorite composer, Karol Szymanowski (1882-1937), so I decided to start my journey here. A 45-minute walk up the hill from the bus station and the last few houses are now behind me. The city of Nowy Sacz is ninety miles ahead.
As always, this would be a solo, open country hike - no roads, no rides and a minimum amount of time on marked trails... and I carry everything on my back.
They come in different sizes and shapes but it is otherwise always the same.
Entering the farming village of Murzasiche, Poland.
Near the end of the first day, I put together a three hour bushwack that exceeded even my expectations. It rained hard the whole time. This was fantastic stuff.
Bialka Tatrzanska, Poland.
Working the Tatra foothills. This is major-league sheep territory. You cross through here at your own peril.
They look very nice and friendly. Tatra sheepdogs. Google it. Five minutes before this picture was taken they were holding their knives and forks at the bottom of the tree, waiting for the branch I was sitting on to break. I was very lucky the shepherd was within shouting distance.
The Pieniński range lies ahead. I will reach it tomorrow.
Planning Day Three's hike from my command center. Lake Czorsztynskie, Poland.
The village of Haluszowa, at the foot of the Pienińskis. This would be the last level stretch for a long while.
There are trails in here, I just wasn't on them.
I skipped the pointed one and opted for this climb instead.
On the other side of the mountain, I caught my first site of Szczawnica, my target for the night. There's still a river to cross but the nearest bridge is farther to the north of town so I had to take some chances here.
I'd missed the last ferry ride but the river man was more than ecstatic to interrupt his family dinner for me.
Szczawnica. First sun in three days.
Careless and thoughtless slobs, leaving a sheet of plywood out like that.
Turning north into the Beski Sadecki range today's hike would not be as steep but the elevations would be higher.
A trail. This time I jumped on the train.
It was cold and dark, very windy and just plain nasty all the way through. Heaven on earth.
Entering the village of Rytro, Poland. The welcoming committee was waiting for me at the end of the bridge, as is generally the case in these parts. It was too dark to make them out but the barking and yapping carried easily across the river.
The final leg north to Nowy Sacz was not as treacherous. The sun was out and in a good mood. In places, the countryside looked like northern Harford County. Except it wasn't Harford County.
Entering Nowy Sacz, Poland.
That's right, I did the same thing a few slides ago.
The morning after. This is a hike I could do again. Except for the tree part.