Stairs to the heaven

Episode 5

Tip of the day
Be aware of accommodation in hotel Kralova Studna when travelling with a dog. The prices are the same as for people. Aponi had a good sleep on the bed that day.

“Every morning I make a plan for the day. I try to make it a bit more challenging than the day before. The most important are the food and water stops and then the end destination where we want to sleep. Almost all the time our plan does not work out. I’m a bit stressed when that happens. However, we always experience the best adventures, situations and people when we stray from the path.”

Customarily, in the morning we had to climb steep Zvolen mountain from Donovaly. We got back our tent and replenished food for the next few days and the pain in the back was bothering us again. The route to Križná mountain was neverending sinusoid of hilltops with lots of fallen trees that were almost impossible to cross. Halfway there we were out of the water and the sun was at its hottest.

I thought that the fresh feeling from the shower in the Donovaly will stay with us for several days. It took us a few hours to be dirty and stinky again. Once we reached the Križná mountain after neverending seven hours of steep hike, we were sweaty, thirsty and on the verge of a breakdown. Even the view to the surrounding valleys and mountains was not compensating for the daily struggle. Nika said she will never visit the place again.

We hurried forward to Kráľova studňa, where we were supposed to find the water. There, the most beautiful meadow, surrounded by interesting rock formations appeared in front of us. It looked like a paradise. With the spring nearby we enjoyed the moment and spent some time there.

We knew that our end destination Velký Šturec was unreachable for us that day. Fortunately, Lubos sent us a message that there is a hotel for tourists nearby a spring. We met three other SNP hikers at the hotel. We immediately joined the party. While drinking beers and shots we exchanged our daily experiences and went to sleep.

Tip of the day
When you do exhausting physical activity for a long time, try drinking minerals to replenish your powers. It has magical effects.

“I’m surprised by the goodness of people we meet on the route. I’m not used to receiving stuff for free. But on this route we are often in the situation when we need help. And for that help you cannot pay in money. So at least, I smile on those people and hope that someday I will be able to repay someone what was given to me.”

The first part of the route was easy and flat and we hiked it very quickly. Mices were all over the place and we had to let Aponi off the leash. She was crazy about catching them and it was hard to hold her still. At least she will get some energy from fresh food, we thought. She caught eleven mices in an hour. 🐭

Just before the breakfast resting stop, we had to climb a bit uphill. Feet turned to wood and each step was painful. We remembered that we had some minerals left in the backpack. It was interesting to watch how such a simple thing can change your body response. The next hike to Svrčinník was much easier. We promised to eat minerals each morning from that day on.

On the way to our lunch stop at Kremnická Skalka, we found an abandoned lodge near Kordické sedlo. It was nearby a spring were we came to fill our water reserves. It was locked from the front, however, we could see open doors in the back through the window. Curious we went to explore and it was worth it. In the lodge, there was a cute little kitchen and some edible leftover food for hungry hikers. On the second floor there were two small rooms, each furnished with two mattresses waiting for someone to sleep there. I was so sad that it was noon and we could not stay there for the night. I vowed to visit the place in the future.

Our end destination, Stred Európy, one of the seven unofficial middle points of Europe, was a huge stone close to Kremnické bane. We entered the place at sunset, walking towards the church. Suddenly there was a voice coming from the top, “Hello girls, how was your day?”. It was Lubos, preparing for sleep in the wooden house made under the arch in the entrance of the church area. We were so happy to meet him there. He told us to ask brother Milan who lived there about accommodation. We rang the bell in the house. Brother Milan was at the door, and said it's not a problem to make the tent there and offered us a shower at his house. We promised to come after we make the tent and prepare for sleep.

After a few minutes we saw that brother Milan was walking towards our tent. He brought us a huge chunk of cake. 🥧 It tasted like heaven. It was the most amazing cake I ever ate, filled with cottage cheese, nuts, cherries and with thin dough. He told us to come in the morning for a coffee and he will give us more. Sometimes a moment like this makes worth the whole struggle we had to experience on our way there.

Tip of the day
Don’t be afraid to ask people to make tent on their garden, it can save you a restless night in the bear area 😴

“We are a team. Walking alone would be much easier, but less colorful. Once you are a team, you rely on each other. When one of us is in pain it is hard on all of us. We cannot continue without each other. So once it looks like that one of us cannot continue we make up a million of alternative scenarios on how to reach the finish line. The last one was to buy a wheelchair and push the other to Devin on wheels. ”

Next day, we were supposed to cross the bear area around Žiar. When we walked through villages in the morning, almost everyone we talked to mentioned bears in his speech. We went into forest talking aloud but we knew that soon we will be exhausted from it. Fortunately, within an hour Lubos came from behind smiling. He went to Kremnica on a bus to receive a package from the post office in the morning. He had a very fast pace but motivated by the idea that a bigger group would scare bears away, we adopted his pace and ran through the hills with him.

Just before lunch break Nika started to experience huge pain in her knee. Stinging and stabbing which she probably hasn't experienced yet. We slowed down a bit and reached the shelter where we had lunch. We agreed with Lubos that he will continue without us because we don’t know if we will be able to reach our end destination, Hadviga. Later it did not help that we met two cyclists that thought that Nika had water in her knee.

It was a few hours before dark and we needed to find a place to sleep. Somewhere where we would be protected from bears. Lubos, who was upfront, but worried about us, called us to say that he found a farm and agreed with owners that we could make tents on their land protected by electric fences and surrounded by beautiful horses. It took us a few very slow hours to get there but relieved, we slept like babies.

Lubos woke up early in the morning and flied away. Somehow we knew it's the last time we met on this journey. With his pace and Nika’s painful knee, we wouldn’t be able to catch up. Fortunately, the knee did not swell and the pain was more bearable to continue.

We planned to have the lunch break in restaurant at Fačkovské sedlo that day. However, we realized that we hadn’t had shower for several days and that we stinked so much that it was unbearable for us to breathe 😅. Once we found a spring that poured wider water flow, we spent at least an hour washing ourselves in very cold water. 🐳 We were staring to blend in with the nature.