Some time ago I was asked to write an article for a publishing house who wanted to publish it in a foreign photography magazine with my photos.Unfortunately, they didn’t like the text. I’m not surprised, I totally don’t know how to write articles. That is why I take a picture, and I don’t write.
I really worked hard, as I Mentioned, writing gives me great difficulty … but shame to hide this text in the “closet”, So I share with you my memories.
It will be a story about my trip to the Tatras,the highest mountains in Poland.
Tatra Mountains. The highest summits of Poland. The last days of August.
I get on a train to Kraków (there?s also an airport in the city), and from there we have to switch to another train to get to Zakopane ? the most visited tourist destination in Tatra Mountains. The moment we exit the train a couple of men walks up to us, questioning whether we’re looking for a place to stay. It’s not difficult to find a place to sleep, even if you have nothing booked. I say no, explaining that today my destination is the hostel by the Marine Eye lake (pol. Morskie oko). Right next to the train station I?m able to find a bus that?d take me straight to Łysa Polana, the last stop on every sort of public transport?s line around here. From there on it?s your feet or nothing. Even if you have a car, you?ll be forced to leave it on some kind of parking lot.
I cross the wooden gate and buy the ticket to Tatra National Park. Now the real adventure begins. The Marine Eye hostel is a really busy place, all thanks to its easy access. The trail seems easy, but can prove really tiring, after all, these are some pretty high mountains. It?s slowly getting darker, but the destination is close.
It is important to book a room there before, it might turn out they have a full house when you get there. They won?t throw you out of course, but laying on the hard wooden floor isn?t the best way to spend the night.
Finally, I take some pictures! After all this is why I came here. The thick clouds cover up the mountaintops, giving the landscape a phenomenal look. Large rocks and stones are a brilliant addition to the foreground. Two of them, like some mighty mountain guardians pose for my photo. The lake?s water is crystal clear, reflecting the mystic mountains beautifully. I?m very excited.
In a matter of minutes it?s completely dark, which can be inspiring too. Such swift changes of weather is a common thing here, you have to be prepared for every possibility.
Lights of the hostel can be seen reflecting in the lake. Looking for a good topic in this conditions can be frustrating. I take a couple of photos. Time to go back.
We?re following a narrow, rocky path. The complete silence is getting scary. Suddenly, about 10 to15 metersbefore us we see a number of yellow, shiny eyes. We stop dead in our tracks, not knowing what to do and what was in front of us. Go forward or back off? I aim my flashlight at the eyes. It belonged to a chamois, a whole bunch of them. They ran as soon as they came and we can breathe calmly again. We were lucky.
We get up the hostel?s stairs, it?s time for a cold beer.
The next day we go the the Valley of Five Lakes (pol. Dolina Pięciu Stawów) the ultimate destination of the whole trip. As every valley, it is surrounded by mountains and is a great vast space that houses five beautiful glacial lakes. In the heart of it all is a hostel. A fantastic place! The road seems easy enough but nothing is really easy in the mountains. And you should never forget that. Carrying the whole camera equipment isn?t a cakewalk either. The corpus, five different lenses with 8 to300 millimetersrange, the tripod, filters? And you still have to take the sleeping bag, the mat and some clothes to change. I feel like an infantry soldier, weapons included.
Getting to the hostel takes us a couple of hours. When we?ve reached our goal, the sun is just about to set. I leave my stuff and go sightseeing a little. I intend to make some pictures in the morning. The Valley is magnificent, the mountains, the water and the excellent light! Perfect!
A few hundred meters further there is a stream coming from one of the ponds. Over it leads a footbridge. I take some shots there. In a matter of seconds the whole area turns the mixture of pink and Purple. The clouds, the rocks, the hills, water, everything. What luck! And that?s not the end of surprises. When the dark finally comes, a great cloud covers up the sky, creating a magical atmosphere. Yes!
It?s about 4:30 in the morning. The alarm clock goes off, but I?m already awake. Sometimes I think I need more sleep, but in the end I always decide I can get more later. I have to spend my little time here to the fullest.
I picked some interesting places for photos during my stroll yesterday. The light changes rapidly during the sunrise hour. Purple at the beginning, dark and cold waters create a brilliant contrast to the slowly warming colors of the clouds and grass, touched by the very first rays of the sun.
Following a slope I come upon a waterfall. Yes, it is the famous Siklawa, the majestic mouth of one of the lakes. It?s presenting all its glory in the rising sun.
Striding along the stony steps leading down the valley, I some upon a breathtaking sight. The giant slopes, covered in mountain pine with a river at the very bottom. I position myself on one of the rocks. They?re sloppy, any wrong movement could end tragically, but I throw common sense away. I cannot miss it. My shoes are all wet, but I don?t care. The mountain peaks are shielded by the clouds and the light pours down the valley. I set the camera, get the filters. I?d like to learn to use them even better. I guess it?ll come over time.
The moment passed and I, even though it?s barely morning, know that I?ve just taken one of the best pictures during the entire trip.
I think I deserve a big breakfast. They make delicious scrambled eggs at the hostel.
Walking around the valley is nothing but pleasure that can easily take several days. Near the hostel I find a smaller lake, I choose it for the evening scenery. I set the camera in front of a large pile of rocks, which will serve as the foreground. I have plenty of time left, I can compose the frame and match filters as long as I want waiting for the perfect time to strike. It?s incredible how swiftly the light can change! The sun hides behind the mountains. In only a few moments the cold beams turn into a fiery display of colors, lasting less than a few minutes. This is the moment. The waiting paid off, it always does.
If you are lucky you can spot some groundhogs in the area. They are clever little fellows, with one watching out for danger when the other one is feeding. Cooperation as its best!
After a couple of days spent in the Valley of Five Lakes it?s hard to leave it. But what?s to be done is to be done. It?s time to walk to the other side of the mountains, towards the Murowaniec hostel. It?s a long road which can be crossed in several different ways. We chose the longest trail, because it seemed the easiest. But when we saw the crooked, rugged path our enthusiasm lowered and we chose a different one. And that was our mistake! The other trail was easy enough at the beginning, until we reached the other side of the hill. To get down the mountain slope he had to conquer a vertical cliff. All the way down we had to grip tight to the chains attached to the stone walls for safety. Imagine a guy with a giant backpack on his back and a tripod on the side, trying to go down a vertical wall. Madness!
When my feet finally touched an even ground my legs were like jelly for another few hours and my heart was pounding.
The lower we went, the more the mountains were closing in on us. I can feel just how small I am compared to them. Rounding the rocky wall I came upon a sight of a giant lake with crystal clear water and a line of trees in the background. Among them is our next stop ? the Murowaniec hostel. I won?t make any photos today, it?s getting dark and there?s still a long road before us.
I spend the next days strolling around the nearby lake called Czarny Staw Gąsienicowy (eng. The Catterpillar Black Pond). The weather is tricky, one moment the dark sky creates a climatic moment, the other the light breaks out from behind the clouds, covering the land in soft, golden beams. Perfect.
The last day. It?s time to get back, though my heart yearns to stay. Our train leaves from Zakopane around noon. But first we have to get to the parking lot where a bus would be waiting for us. We get up at dawn, it?s still dark outside. In the hostel?s main hall we see a warning on the noticeboard. It reads: ?Attention! Yesterday evening on the road to the parking lot a bear was spotted! Please be cautious!?. It?s needless to say our good mood has perished. I once heard that a bear would always attack you unless you?re able to take them by surprise in the first place. During our walk to the parking lot we try to talk as loudly as possible, we want to be heard from afar. On the way we pass an elderly couple, bravely going uphill. It?s really nice to see people of that age, still in love with the mountains, not caring about how old they are.
We get to the parking lot, no bears encountered, we?re fine. Luck? Loud talking? It doesn?t matter, there?s no sense in thinking over such things.
One last look at the mountains, from down there they seem gigantic and overwhelming. I get on the train. But I?ll be back here, I know it.