Last Kilometers

Episode 7

Tip of the day
It really helps to have friends and family closeby on the route. They can support you with fresh food and clean clothes, which can save you time and help with your hygiene.

“Till today, our route always led to some point that was more or less distant to our destination. Now we are on the finish line. The route goes directly to Devín and we count days till our adventure ends. My head is full of memories and experiences and it is hard to imagine that we still have space for more.”

The day started with a slow descent to Myjava. We always loved mornings like that. Fortunately we were really fast and arrived in the city before lunch. The hot weather continued also this day and we decided to spend some time in a local restaurant called Kross house. Aponi found an amazing place between three walls with a cold floor and decided she won’t move anywhere. It was a good spot for camping the whole day.

In a restaurant, we met another group of SNP hikers, this time a pair with three kids (2,4,6 years old). We actually knew them from social networks, because their challenge to hike the route with kids within three months was famous in our community. They were really nice but exhausted. They still had at least a month in front of them. After a little chat we went to enjoy our lunch and beer. Since we were unlucky with weather again, we decided we will spend more time in Myjava and called my mom to change the place of her supporting visit with clean clothes.

We spent several hours in the restaurant, the waitresses were amazingly nice and supportive and we ended up ordering a lot of food and drinks. Usually when you have to wait the time is very slow, but we realized that our rests were always too short, and we could always take more time to do nothing.

My mom managed to come quite late, which was a problem because we had only three hours to get to Brezová pod Bradlom (15 kilometers of hike), where we booked an accomondation. The owner literally told us that we have to arrive before 10 P.M. or she won’t make it. The accommodation was very cheap and we hadn’t had shower for three days. We agreed we needed to make it there. So the rest of the day we were almost running all the time. The only stop was Mohyla Milana Rastislava Štefánika, one of the biggest monuments of the whole SNP trail. It’s also the official end of the SNP route,which was later extended by Štefánikova magistrála which leads to Devín. Even though we didn’t have much time left, we took at least 15 minutes to take some photos and enjoy the view of the sunset. Eventually we managed to come to the hostel before the deadline but our feet were in excruciating pain from our running walk. 🏃🏻‍♀️🏃🏼‍♀️🐺

Tip of the day
Hike to Ostry Kamen is a beautiful route on a rocky path. But don’t do it after dark.

“We are almost at the end of our journey. I went on this hike with a plan to change something, but I was changed in the areas that I couldn’t imagine. I still don’t know if I resolved the thoughts I planned to resolve on this journey, but I know that it changed me.”

From Brezová pod Bradlom, the SNP route goes through Malé Karpaty, the last mountains that end just before Bratislava. After a few hours we arrived at the village Dobrá voda, whose name is based on a fresh spring which can be filled in the middle of the village. Once we arrive there, there is already a queue of people waiting for the spring. Dobra voda translates to ‘Good Water’ and I suspect it’s quite famous among villagers. In the tavern, we met two other tourists that were on their holiday for several days and planned some hikes through Karpaty. Originally we thought they were SNP hikers because they had huge bags on their backs. They looked happy in our company, so we agreed to continue several kilometers together, because we went the same direction.

It was nice to spend time with new people again. We learned that guys had trouble finding friends for hiking because most of their friends are interested in more lazy vacations near the sea. They told us about their families and exchanged some tips for trips in the area. They relaxed us with the knowledge that in Karpaty there are no dangerous animals, which we appreciated because we left our tent with my mom and we planned to sleep under the stars that night.

That day we realized that we started to gain some body fitness and stamina, because we were faster than two adult men, and we actually stopped complaining about pain for several days now. The steep climbs were easy with enough water reserve, and when we climbed a mountain we were not exhausted and laughed about it’s ease. I think those were the moments I started to be proud of myself and what we did on this journey.

At the end of the day, we experienced a beautiful and dangerous hike to the Ostrý Kameň castle. It was beautiful because the path was rocky, a fresh change from boring dirt and leaves. It was dangerous because in the end it was too rocky, the rocks were formed in huge needles and there was no optional route to take. Moreover, the most difficult part came after dark, and we had to go through it in the light of our headlamps. On both sides of our path there was a steep slope and we prayed that Aponi wouldn't get an idea to run after some animal she scents. Or we would all die with her. The most rewarding end of that path was an old but romantic castle, or to be more specific a ruin of a castle. We found a nice place protected by a strong wind that was present on the mountain and enjoyed a beautiful cold night under the stars. 🌝✨🪐⭐️

Tip of the day
If you hike the SNP route from Dukla to Devín, you can get a free shot in the bike bar Biely Kríž.

“I fear my dream is over. The end is close, the goal is in front of us. I fear I don't know where to go next.”

We wanted to wake up early in the morning, but it was so cold and windy that we stayed in our sleeping bags until the sun warmed the day. During our descent we met a guy on his morning run. He ran uphill for the third time when we reached the bottom of the hill. It was an impressive exercise. Later, during our brunch we met a middle aged woman, an SNP hiker, who was on the trail all alone. She took only a few days longer than us and enjoyed it very much. I hope we will be the same as we get older.

Malé Karpaty is a very interesting geological area with rich fauna and flora. Some parts reminded us of savanna, there were a lot of rocky hills, beautiful forests with high narrow trees. It was a weekend and it looked like the whole Bratislava region came to the mountains to spend some quality nature time. On each viewpoint, there were lots of people, families with kids and dogs. It was no longer a solitary walk through forest. It reminded us even more that our journey is close to the end, and we were close to civilization.

Most of the day we spent in our thoughts, thinking about the trip, our experiences, the hardest and brightest situations. What we learned and what we gave up. Paradoxically, we were not happy that we were going to reach our goal, and we felt we wanted to continue this life for a little bit longer. Even Aponi looked like she enjoyed herself the most. We thought that after so many days of walking she would be exhausted. But she got used to this way of life and started to really enjoy it. She even started to dig her own home in the dirt during each rest or sleeping stop.

Traditionally, we failed to plan our food reserves again and in the middle of the route to Pezinská Baba, a group of nice bikers took pity on us and gave us their protein bars and bananas. I never took so much food from strangers like on this trip. The life of a pilgrim is the life of a beggar. I fell in love with the community of tourists. We had never met anyone dangerous, rude or ignorant. Instead we had met helpful nice people that understood our trouble and they were always willing to help us when we needed it. Interestingly, when we arrived at Pezinská Baba, after a whole day of hunger, we couldn’t even enjoy the food. I guess we crossed the limit of our starvation. We met with my family that came to support us from Bratislava and went to rest for the last 50 kilometers of our route.

The last but one day of our journey, the weather expressed our emotions. It was raining the whole day. Even though we had to struggle with very hot days most of the time on our trip, we got at most two hours of rain in total. I was always saying during the trip, that we luckily ran away from all the storms. We literally saw a storm hit a hill where we passed an hour before. So I knew, there was rain waiting for us in the end. And it was. The rain accompanied us the whole day, the same as our emotions. We took a rest on Biely Kríž, a famous food and drink stop for bikers from Bratislava. The owner was in a very good mood and invited us for a couple of shots as a reward for our successful journey. We got a little bit drunk, which helped us enjoy this day a little bit more. By the time we got to our last sleeping place, Kamzík, we were excited that the next day, we would reach Devin. A dream that felt distant most of the time on the route.