Our time in Zakopane is racing to a close. It has been a very active vacation and I believe that we will all need a vacation from our vacation to recover. I have lost count of the number of miles we have hiked the last several days despite the less than ideal weather conditions. At last count we had already hiked at least 30 miles. On Tuesday my mom, me, Michal, and Tomek braved the weather and headed out to hike the trail that translates to “The Five Polish Ponds”. I am not a huge fan of hiking but I found the first half of this trip to be possibly the most beautiful hike I’ve ever been on.

IMG_8405While hiking we watched the clouds swirl up into the sky to reveal magnificent waterfalls cascading down the mountainsides. Sounds of gurgling water from the creek provided a soothing soundtrack for our long walk. The sunshine played peek-a-boo with the clouds for several hours sparing us from rain showers. The beauty of first “pond” was stunning. There was also a large shelter there where we were able to rest and warm up with large bowls of delicious homemade soup.

IMG_8412 IMG_8445 IMG_8553IMG_8460Soon after we saw the first pond and were in the process of venturing onto the rest of the ponds, the clouds quickly rolled in and engulfed us and the surrounding area. Our hike quickly went from being the best hike ever to the most treacherous, terrifying and what felt like never ending hike.

IMG_8455 IMG_8464 IMG_8498The path consisted of large boulders that were difficult to navigate and slippery from the rain and humidity. Furthermore the path either went steeply upward or steeply downward; there was no middle ground. And in some spots if you slipped, it looked like you’d tumble right off the side of the mountain. The clouds were so intense that there were no views to distract from the scary path. I slipped several times and fell twice. I wanted nothing more than to get off that mountain. The trail did not ease up until we reached the road two hours later. Wet, freezing cold, overwhelmed and not very happy I had no emotional room left to enjoy the beauty of the largest lake at the end.

IMG_8500 IMG_8502 IMG_8505Yesterday we ventured out on another valley walk. Pope John Paul II is from this area and the path we took yesterday is one he frequented. It was beautiful. There were cows and sheep grazing in the pastures, little cabins, and the mountains. It felt like Julie Andrews should have been there singing “The Hills Are Alive With the Sound of Music”. We also rented bikes for part of the path which provided us with a bit of fun and respite from walking. Our moms also bonded on this walk. It’s been sweet to watch their friendship develop despite the language barrier.

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IMG_8579IMG_8598Today is our last day here. And it’s pouring rain. We attempted a hike in the rain, but it wasn’t very fun. My mom and I took a cable car to the top of Kasprowy Wierch. There were moments where we were literally walking in the clouds. Fortunately the clouds both lifted above us and sank below us to reveal breathtaking landscapes from our perch at an elevation of 2000 meters. It was a pretty sweet view to end our time in Zakopane.

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