I saw them in the glow of the morning. Standing as big and proud as at the day of its creation. Half a year without them was constantly waiting for our meeting. It was constantly suffocation and jerking off on the lowlands. But every suffering has its end and that day it came to me. Finally I started to breathe.
Since the first days of July the rain laved the face of the Tatra Mountains in record numbers. August unfortunately didn’t turned out to be different. Although the number of sunny days was probably higher, the rocks often become wet and therefore more difficult and dangerous to climb. Although my thoughts were running out into the highest areas of the Tatra Mountains, the weather unfortunately forced me to spend time in the valleys.
On the day of our arrival I went with my dad to walk into the Dolina Białego (Valley of White), which was a few minutes away from the place of our residence. This is one of my favorite places in the Tatra Mountains. The stones of that valley often passed such people as Stefan Żeromski or Kazimierz Przerwa-Tetmajer, admiring its beauty.
The trail leads to Sarnia Skała, which in the past was heavily penetrated by treasure hunters. But we have not reached it, because in the middle of the road came the rain and also the storm was slowly coming.
Weather forecasts for the next day made that once again we stayed in the lower parts of the mountains. We went on a beautiful scenically tour from Toporowa Cyrhla to Nosal. We went through the most beautiful forest which I was able to see in life and came to the historic huts at Polana Kopieniec, which the Highlanders built as a shelter for sheep and themselves. Then we walked in the mud up to our ankles in the direction of Polana Olczyska and admiring the beauty of the sources of its streams. Suddenly we noticed a very moving view. Thousands of huge trees was lying front of us as if tired of long standing, have laid to sleep. Their leaves rustled not anymore, not the roots grew into the ground harder. They were lying in peace and immense silence.
Nietzsche once wrote that most bend and torment us the invisible hands. Even if the man had used all his strength to push the tree, he would not be able to blow it down. In contrast, the wind, which none of us can not see, pulls out the strongest tree with roots.
Continuing our journey, we summited the Nosal, which is called the mountain of suicides. Its precipices are very attractive, because there is a huge probability that the jump from them result in death. In addition, this mountain is not difficult, so killing did not require any climbing ability or huge effort. The only obstacle is the magnificent panorama that shows the beauty of our world and can force would-be suicide to reflect on the reasonableness of that act.
Unfortunately, due to the large availability of this summit, it is often besieged by tourists. Finding there free space is a challenge. However I succeeded, but at the same moment when I sat down on a piece of free rock, heard thunder above me. I couldn’t admired views, because we had to start to descend. Despite a fairly good pace, midway caught us a huge downpour. I’ve never experienced so much rain outside the house. But it was quite an interesting experience, causing more smiles than annoyance. The experience that happened to me more than once during this trip…
When with many other tourists I was walking down towards the valley, I passed four young people (two men and two girls) who dressed in shorts and sneakers, walked with an umbrella and water bottle in one hand to the top. Let me remind you once again that the storm was coming, so bringing the metal umbrellas wasn’t in this case the best idea. Despite comments from the descending tourists, young adventurers moved on. How ended their journey and whether it was their last, I do not know. I only know that the storm was beautiful.
We spent a rainy Wednesday on Pęksowy Brzyzek which is a old cemetery. This place is very important for me. The most outstanding people are buried there, and the most meritorious for the Tatra Mountains, Zakopane and Podhale. People we should remember about. Their spirit accompanies me every time I climb the walls of granite. During each stay in the mountains I hear in my head a voice of Tetmajer which in a great way describes the beauty of our mountains. I see in front of me Witkacy, jumping over rocky cliffs and shouting “I can not live with others! This is the cattle and idiots!“. In the High Tatras I’m walking beside Jan Długosz, rambling up the ridge of Zadni Kościelec. In Zakopane I listen to tales of Jan Krzeptowski “Sabała” which carries mountain wind. I would give a lot for one day spent in their company, in the old Zakopane, devoid of a lot of shops and tourists…
Thursday still ‘under the umbrella’ and under the roof of the magnificent Witkacy Theatre. The things that I experienced during the performance of “Ccy-Witkacy-Y Menagerie” I will not forget the rest of my life. Art based on the youthful works of Witkacy was an attempt to show how developed the sensitivity of one of the greatest artists of the twentieth century. In my short life I saw quite a large number of performances. The entire repertoire of Kalisz Theatre for the last several years, I know by heart. I also had the opportunity to watch on stage theaters from different parts of Poland and also all world, the more and the less well known. Performances from the Theatrical Meetings and those played on small stages in Arts & Cultural Center, minimalist works and rich musicals, those lack of words, as well as those filled with long monologues.
I communed with really outstanding art, however, this what happened to me in Witkacy Theatre, comes completely out of the circle. It is something impossible to specify, to close in a number of terms and categories. Something that can not be forgotten, that sneaks into the dreams and thoughts, is intertwined with the way of life. Whenever I close my eyes, I see this show again, I experience it every day and every night.
I believe that each of you should be at least once in this unique place. Otherwise, it will be a great loss for you.
On the peaks of Czerwone Wierchy we spent the Friday day. From Kasprowy Wierch climbed the route through Kopa Kondracka, Małołączniak and Krzesanica, toward Ciemniak. This hike would be extremely beautiful scenically, were it not the fact that for almost all the time we walked in the cloud and visibility reached a maximum of a few meters. A year ago I also went through this pathway (but only to Małołączniak), and also part of the time spent in the cloud. I probably don’t even deserve to enjoy this beauty yet.
Despite the weather, it was a great time. No views, which absorb a large part of attention, meant that I focused more on the person next to me, so my dad. He is an amazing man to me, who largely contributed to who I am now. It is he who inspired me to love the mountains, which have been a frequent target of our trips. He also taught me sensitivity to the beauty of the world, and look at the hidden depths of it. Quite often stops suddenly on the street in front of the old building and says that it is amazing that these bricks were touched by the hands of people which had their own unique stories. People which carried in a lot of feelings, desires, secrets. Were they happy? What happened to them? Where are their graves?
It seems to me that after him I inherited way of looking at the world, frequent change of perspectives, admiring what is above my head, wandering in the clouds and leaves. It is a remarkable gift, but also the extra weight. It is not hard to stumble when our gaze wanders around various objects, discovering newer and newer forms. But on the other hand, what is worth a life devoid of stumblings and falls? Can you call them beautiful and fully experienced, if our eyes are still staring at our feet?
Therefore, I am extremely grateful that I was blessed with parents who have opened my eyes to the beauty of this world. I still do not know how I deserved for such happiness.
After returning from the mountains we again went to the theater. This time we had the pleasure to watch “Panopticum” based on texts by Julian Tuwim and again directed by Jerzy Dziuk. The performance deeply moving, causing tears and sincere smile, thought-provoking. But most of all – loving life. The words “It is worth, worth to live” from the poem of Tuwim, sung by the entire troupe, every day resound in my head.
Picturesque scenery of Pieniny in the opinion of many people, no way inferior to the Tatra Mountains. Although they are far lower from Tatras, we find out from them that size does not matter. Covered with mysterious forests, hiding inside the ruins of the Castle of Pieniny, full of a variety of rocks and vegetation, are extremely fascinating place. Adding to that meandering ribbon of Dunajec, which is a phenomenon in Europe, we begin to see the landscape that everyone need to discover before his death.
The route of our journey led from the top of Sokolica to Trzy Korony, by the Sokola Perć and was one of the nicest I’ve traveled. Leading by beautiful forests, the craggy slopes and almost constant view of the distant Tatra Mountains, enraptured me at every step. View from the top of of Sokolica will long remain in my memory, and that of the Trzy Korony… God, what a beauty it was! On each side surrounded by the endless space, I felt the breath of eternity.
Going down to the hapless civilization, we visited the ruins of the Castle of Pieniny from the thirteenth century. In it hid during the Third Tatar Invasion St.Kinga, wife of Polish King, Boleslaw V Wstydliwy. Communing with such history was unusual. Although the castle survived only in a few fragments of walls, it’s just knowing that hundreds of years ago, our ancestors built it, sparked in me an incredible feeling.
When we returned from the mountains to the small town from which we wanted to get to Zakopane, we realized to that the next bus will arrive for 3 hours…So we tried our luck as hitchhikers. After a few minutes, and hundreds of neutral drivers, stopped in front of us a dark car with a driver resembling a devil. He drove in the direction of Nowy Targ, a town to which we wanted to get and from there take a bus to Zakopane. We quickly passed the initial destination of the driver and drove away. He said that if he have the opportunity to help someone, then he should use it, regardless of the fact that it will mean for him a longer way. In today’s world it’s hard to hear such words, a fortiori from a person which is completely unknown to us.
When we got to Nowy Targ, we asked him how much we owe him, and he said – just 10 PLN, for a beer. 10 PLN for so many kilometers?! Confused asked him again, and he said then – you can give me just 10 PLN and do a good deed for a stranger as soon as possible. Then he smiled at us and drove off. There are still good people in this world.
Many believe that Mondays are the work of the devil and accused them of all the worst. But I remember this Monday as exceptionally nice.
Finally the weather forecast proved to be gracious to us, and that meant only one thing – the High Tatras! Our aim was Świnica, majestic peak with breathtaking views. We got up at 3.30 and went out, when the world was still deep in sleep. On the way to Hala Gąsienicowa, we observed Sunrise. We arrived into the Murowaniec (mountainhut shelter), when there were only two people. There is nothing more beautiful than looking at mountains which are waking up, communing with them in silence, without the crowds of tourists.
Passing the Czarny Staw Gąsienicowy and Zmarzły Staw, got under Zawrat. Finally started climbing! Without any problems passed the difficulties that already in the nineteenth century were passed by Stanisław Witkiewicz, Stefan Żeromski, Jarosław Iwaszkiewicz, Jan Kasprowicz, Maria Skłodowska-Curie, and even Włodzimierz Lenin. I wonder how would roll fate of the world, if he fell into the abyss…
From Zawrat headed in the right direction, towards Świnica. The trail started easily, and then… it was still easy. I was waiting impatiently for the difficult moments, great divide, heavy challenges. After reading a few memories from this tour on the Internet, I expected a really heavy parts. I realized how subjective is the opinion of the difficulty of trail. For me, the entrance to Świnica not pose any problem, but for someone it could be the equivalent of Everest. Undoubtedly, this route requires good physical fitness, resistance to the abyss, sometimes rock skills. Heaven forbid you should not underestimate the difficulties that are on it. From somewhere came the growing statistics of fatal accidents in that area.
Every mountain must be respected, for each trip you need to be properly prepared. No matter whether you go to Kasprowy Wierch or K2.
Despite the lack of a huge effort, the joy of achievement of the summit was really powerful for me. For a long time I dreamed about it and finally I achieved it. I planned something and again I was able to achieve this goal. This is enough reason to be happy.
I was also extremely proud of my dad. He has already had more than 60 years, and no doubt the entrance to the summit was a big challenge for him. And I don’t mean only the physical aspects, because it is a very athletic person. I’m talking more about the fact that over time we see the size of the abyss, the fragility of the rocks, the proximity of death. I saw in his eyes that he has fears, but I saw also that they are gone at the top. And it seems to me that they were replaced with happiness.
When sitting at the top, we started thinking, which way leads down the trail toward Kasprowy Wierch, from behind a rock emerged a man about fifty, dressed only in boxer shorts. We thought that maybe there is a way down. We decided to ask the man about the validity of our conjecture. It turned out, however, that we were very wrong. He answered – No, no, there is no trail. There you can only climb.
When I saw all of his character, I could see on his legs climbing shoes. Still, I did not see the rope, harness, or any other climbing equipment. Could this man really climbed free solo pillar of Świnica ?! I heard a little bit about the fragility of this route in the summer (falling off ‘TV’ in the first pitches of the route) and the awareness of it gives me enormous admiration for the achievement of this man.
On the other hand seemed quite unaware of rank of his act. He sat down on a rock, ate a sandwich, changed shoes and ran downstairs. His emotions seemed to be at the level of an ordinary man who went for a walk in the park.
It’s a bit strange to enjoy the summited to the top using chains, when you meet someone who at the same time climbed on it that way…So we decided to start to descend. Fortunately, by a little different route than the one we previously thought was right.
In the descent alternately accompanied us lonely man in a hat with a tablet, by which he recorded every step, and the two boys talking about donating blood. On almost every mountain trip is a bunch of people that once you will pass, and once they will pass you, over and over again, sometimes even several times. And then it is formed between you some unusual thread of understanding, friendship, intimacy. Sometimes you will share a few words, and sometimes just smile to each other. On the the lowlands you would probably never speak, but in the mountains, the distance disappears and is replaced by friendship and cordiality.
Then lying in bed after a long day of climbing, you mention these people, wondering if they got home safely, if they were able to realize their plans.
This is the phenomenon of the mountains. Though often located on the border between the two countries, they do not divide but unite. Regardless of age, experience, appearance or origin. Regardless of political or religious beliefs. Regardless of anything else. So the way we always should love another existence.
Here ends my journey with my dad and starts a new chapter, which I created with my friend Albert. But about this you will read in the next post.
With all my heart I wanted to thank you dad for the greatest company that I could have wished for. For the fact that you’ve taught me so much during this trip, and that defeated all your fears, to be able to show me the beauty of this world. These moments will always remain in my memory as one of my greatest riches.