High Tatra, Dunajec, Poprad, Red Monastery & more

See the first part Polish Part of Tatra & Pieniny Mountains seen from Slovakia.

For the history of the Dunajec and Cerveny Klastor I will refer you to various history books covering the Order of the Carthusians and the Red Monastery as well as the especially mild climate this river gorge area enjoys. Further downstream along the Dunajec history tells stories of WW I battles along the Dunajec and in nearby regions of the Carpathians, stories of loyal troops who froze to death en masse rather than leave their posts for warmth. While you are at it, you might investigate the Inca connection with Krakow and the Niedzica castle.

We returned to the greens at the Cerveny Klastor the following day to attend the Folk Festival of Zamagurie. This is billed as a Goral festival and seemed to be quite well organized and with a variety of participants and many singers and dancers from the region and guest performers renewing ties to Hungary and Ukraine. There were some carnival rides and some booths selling food and handicrafts, including a booth with fujara for sale.

click the image to see it magnified

Zamagurie Festival - I edited out the wooded Polish mountain side in the background to come closer to the people on stage.

The photo above has the hills of Slovakia in the foreground and the hills and fields of Poland in the background.

Just to the north east of Stara Lubovna lies the Poprod river, where it forms another part of the Polish-Slovak border between the Polish towns of Piwnicza and the health resort area of Zegiestow-Zdroj. One view of this area overlooking the Poprad gorge with the Slovak hills in the foreground and Polish hills and fields in the background is shown in the photo Slovakia- Poland border, The Polish hills surround a health spa or two along the Poprad river and there is a "Soltysia Gora" on the Polish side of the border, indicating the Soltyz settlement method was used to populate the area.

I left the village of Sulin to follow a dotted path on the map that turned out to be an old asphalted logging road quite a surprise in itself, and more of a surprise when it ended almost at the crest of the hills 4 km or so later in a muddy tractor trail! That must have been quite a rich forest or there is some other history behind the area. I followed the ridges and razorbacks for a while and oriented myself by sun and a rare glimpse of what should have been Poland (and was, as I came out where I planned). After a steep descent to Maly Lipnik I started the walk back to the starting point, passing through the village, a tree farm and the little hydroelectric power plant that was recently built in a hairpin bend of the Poprad river. The reward for the hike was an opportunity to refill my water bottle at the Sulinky mineral spring.

Above is the view of the south face of the Vysoke Tatry Mountains as the train is headed west. I believe it has most all of the 26 km stretch of alpine mountains in view... the rest of the Carpathians are more like the Appalachian mountains or Arkansas Razorbacks, more rounded and tree covered.

Both the Poprad and the Dunajec were still brown with erosion. Reports are that there were very heavy rains and flooding up to three weeks prior to my visit, so I was very lucky indeed. It would not have been nearly as much fun with wet feet and mud to slog through as well as wet, slick slopes to descend! As it was, the weather and the hiking could not have been better.

Finally, I was asked for a photo of the High Tatra (Vysoke Tatry) mountains from the south side, and I have this one as I rode past on the train.

text and photographs by Ron Matviyak, contact the author by e-mail

Check articles and links about Polish Mountaineers, Folk costumes and travel to Poland.

I recommend:

High Tatra: The Finest Valley and Mountain Walks (Rother Walking Guide), by Stanislav Samuhel, C. Ade

A History of Slovakia : The Struggle for Survival (Paperback),by Stanislav Kirschbaum

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