East Slovakia, Bukovske Hills II – Into the Wild
We set off to find some place to camp after the dinner. According to the map it should have been somewhere behind the village if we followed the red trail. Fortunately, the weather improved so we didn’t have to put on raincoats while getting out of the restaurant. Soon we found out the camp belongs to the visitors’ center, i.e. the last house in the village. We asked the workingmen who were renovating the house if we could build our tents there. They said yes and invited us to grill. The girls, however, were tired and went right to sleep. It was then up to me to save our reputation.
We packed our things in the morning, said our goodbyes and set off for the highest peak of the Bukovske Hills– Kremenec. The trail climbs almost all the time when going off Nova Sedlica (about 450 meters above the sea level), across Temny Vrsok, the Stuzicka River, Kamenisty Creek until the very summit. The last section (about 200 meters below the summit) goes along the Slovak-Ukrainian borderline. This was the most difficult section of the day as it was very steep and it started to rain again. On the other hand, the view on the Kremenec memorial which marks the point where Slovakian Ukrainian and Polish borders cross. We ate some summit chocolate. As the weather didn’t seem to improve any time soon we decided to continue along the red tourist trail which was supposed to get us to the saddle below Ciertazka mountain while going across Kamenna Luka, Hrubky and Ciertaz. The saddle was the place we planned to spend our first night at a tourist hut.
It took us 2 hours to reach the saddle from Kremenec. Fortunately, the hut was still free so we settled in instantly. The hut is located in Slovakia and nearby on the Polish territory there is a gazebo which is open. We used it to cook us food while it is recommended to cook at least 50 to 100 meters off a cottage or a tent. Bears have perfect smell so smelling a dinner is real temptation. We also hung all trash under the roof of the gazebo. The place was maybe not ideal yet we later saw Polish tourists sleeping in tents with food inside their bags. They were not worried at all and survived..
The night in the cottage was very cold and very windy. We didn’t sleep well but it wasn’t raining any more, at least. So we set off to the longest part of our journey. We would follow the ridge more or less, sometimes descending and sometimes getting at the higher altitude again. Mostly on the Jaraba Rock we enjoyed beautiful views of the surroundings. We saw even Nova Sedlice and Zboj village. Our other destination was Durkovec Mountain. There we enjoyed view to all directions. Coincidentally we met our friend Milan in the saddle below Durkovec. He came here from the Czech Republic and was also wandering around the Bukovske Hills with his friends. However, their destination was Wetlina, Poland, so in the other direction than us.
In really windy weather, we were going further to Plasa and Kruhliak mountain. There we finally descended to Russian Saddle . A hut is bit astray from the tourist path, which is has good marking. We planned to refill water supplies at the Cirocha’s river natural spring. To our unpleasant surprise the spring was dry and the water was not very clean. But when we boiled the water we used it. We were alone at the camping grounds this time. We made fire because it was really cold so we could warm ourselves up a bit. Before getting into our warm sleeping bags we turned the table over vertically at the entrance. It would separate us from wild animals in surrounding woods. Next week we are going to tell you how our trip ended.
GPS: (Nová Sedlica) 49°02'53.6"N 22°30'56.1"E
Text and photo: Vojtěch Bližňák
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