BIESZCZADY (Wołosate – Duszatyn)
12 September 2018 – 16 September 2018
TOTAL: 89.3 km
Red dot on the signpost in Wołosate marks the start or end of the Main Beskid Trail. We arrived there in the afternoon after a few hours of the bus journey. We bought the tickets to the Bieszczady National Park and we entered the world of Połoniny (mountain pastures) – exposed ridges naturally created due to climatic factors.
As it often happens, we walk against the main stream. All the people were coming back from their day walks, and we were just starting our day. The weather was really nice so the walking was pleasant. Soon we arrived at our first checkpoint – shelter and viewing point on the border with Ukraine offering spectacular views of the wild Bieszczady, both on Polish and Ukrainian side. With the sun slowly setting down and casting beautiful colours on the hillsides giving kind of magical atmosphere feel.
Walking further along the path via Halicz and Rozsypaniec we could admire panoramic views of those magnificent mountains. Approaching Przełęcz Goprowska mountain pass (1160m a.s.l) we decided to stay there for the night as it was already getting dark. We settled down under the open shelter and while having small dinner, the sky above us was getting illuminated by the stars.
That was one of our best night on that trip. It was the middle of September and the middle of the rut – mating season for deer. All night long we were surrounded by the sounds of roaring amplified by the mountains echo. Above us there was a dark sky with millions of stars. Truly amazing experience.
The MBT does not lead to Tarnica – the highest summit of the Bieszczady mountains, its about 15 minutes walk up off the main trail path. We decided to go up. It was very early and we were the first one on that day on the top of Tarnica summit (1346m a.s.l). The visibility was great so we had great views of the surrounding hills. We were lucky to have it all to ourselves for a few minutes. This summit is a very popular tourist destination, and when we were going down, we already saw people on their way up.
Nice and steady walk down took us to Ustrzyki Górne where we bought some supplies and had some snacks. Then we started to walk up again.
The day was getting hot. Walking in the woods, in the shade was quite pleasant, but once we were above the tree line the Sun was giving us a hard time. It was a beautiful day so many people came here for a day walk, it was quite busy on the path. Wandering through the Połonina Caryńska pastures we could enjoy scenic views of the forested hillsides of the Bieszczady.
Preparing for our trip we have not done much of walking or exercising, and on the second day we started to feel it in our legs. They were tired and so were we. On that account, we ended our day early.
The days were hot and dry, but the mornings were wet from the morning dew or the fog in the valleys. For the whole trip, most of the time we packed our tent went.
As we were staying in the valley for the night, so the first part of the morning we had to walk up. The path was quite steep and it was stuffy and humid. I was having a hard time, quickly getting tired and stopping often. At that moment I didn’t know it would get worse. Finally, we got to the top and arrived at Chatka Puchatka mountain hut, where we stopped for a few minutes.
Wandering Połonina Wetlińska is quite pleasant, paths are in good conditions, gently leading through the mountain meadows and offering superb views. No wonder that with every hour there were more and more walkers. It’ very popular area and by the time we got to the top of Smerek summit (1222m a.s.l.) it was so crowded that we did not even stop there, we just carried on walking.
The truth is that after our walk in Scandinavia we were not accustomed and not prepared for so many tourists walking on one path.
Soon we left the Bieszczadzki National Park, stopping at Smerek village and then at the small cemetery hidden in the woods passed the village. It was sill early so we decided to carry on walking. Unfortunately, we hadn’t moved too far.
Suddenly I completely lost all my powers. From the beginning of our trip I was quickly getting tired, but I took that as a result of not doing much of exercise beforehand. However, this afternoon I got the worst of it. Couldn’t catch my breath and was suffocating. We were making slow progress, but when we got into the wood, I just could not carry on, could not take another step. I was sick and weak, and had an upset stomach. Nice afternoon turned into early evening and we had to find a camping spot. Marcin went ahead, leaving me behind slowly walking up.
We managed to find a place on a flat ground and just set up a tent. I was feeling exhausted, but managed to get some sleep.
The path was not difficult technically which was good considering the state I was in. We were moving slower than usual, stopping often, but we were making progress. Foggy and misty morning turned into a rainy day. It was warm enough though, that we even did not put raincoats on. I had some small snack and was started feeling better.
Walking close to the border with Slovakia we reached the Okrąglik (1101m a.s.l). Along the way we met few people also doing the MBT, but the other way, so they were about to finish their trips.
Taking into account that both were tired, the weather was not very nice and it was quite a long distance to the next shops we called for and early stop at Bacówka pod Honem mountain hut near the Cisna village. We booked the place for our tent, but we could use the common room. There we spend most of the afternoon first having a proper shower. One would like to say warm shower, however the definition of warm water is totally different here in the mountains.
To finish our day we had some cheesecake, freshly made. We were reluctant to go back to the cold tent:)
The night wasn’t good for either for us. Marcin has a stomach ache and I was still feeling weak after my stomach problems. As we couldn’t sleep, we got up quite early and spend some time in the common room trying to eat something.
It stopped raining, but it was quite cold. Fortunately to start with we had a very steep part of the path walking up which warmed us a bit. That day Marcin was feeling worse than I did. It got so cold that we put more layers on and did not stop for longer breaks. Slowly we walked along the ridge, passing few summits not doing much of a climbing. Wandering through the woods we were looking for some sunny spot for our break, we wanted to warm up ourselves and dry our tent a bit.
That area was part of the main warfare front during the 1st World War. In the woods there are many places of remembrance, small cemeteries, graves of unknown soldiers that died during battles. Crosses hidden between the trees, covered with leaves.
There are also many nature reserves, protecting rare and old trees and plant species or geological structures. One of them is Zwiezło Nature Reserve with Duszatyńskie Lakes that were formed by huge landslide of rock masses that blocked the stream. Beautiful small lakes hidden in the woods, with smooth waters reflecting the colours of the autumn trees, a lovely picture that got imprinted on our memory.