How I underestimated a small mountain – moody weather and a moment of fear on Wysoka.

wysoka poland

I bet you know this feeling. When you are at work it’s a thousand degrees outside. Sunbeams warm up the glass windows of your corpo-building. You colleagues turn the AC off, the others turn it back on at maximum and fight if it’s too cold or too hot inside.

But everybody longingly looks outside. You sigh and promise yourself that you will spend the whole weekend out in the nature, sunbathing and enjoying the summer.

And then you check weather forecast. You’re not sure whether to laugh or to cry. On your free days you will have storms, gales and tornados so strong the farmers are warned to protect their livestock which otherwise may fly away.

This was the case before the long weekend which we planned to spend in the mountains. I couldn’t wait for it as it was the first mountain trip for a long time. We wanted to hike two peaks belonging to the Crown of Polish Mountains. Wysoka, the highest peak of Pieniny mountain range and then after spending the night in a mountain hut called Pod Durbaszką we wanted to hike Radziejowa – the highest peak of Beskid Sądecki.

The forecasts promised us the worst weather conditions possible. We decided to go anyway – the hike to Wysoka is short and we hoped for enough luck to hunt down the moment of acceptable weather. With our raincoats ready we set off on the trail.

Wysoka from Jaworki through Homole Gorge – the Crown of Polish Mountains

wysoka crown of polish mountains

Wysoka (The High), also called Wysokie Skałki (The High Rocks) is the highest peak in Pieniny mountain range, it is 1050 meters high. The trail to Wysoka starts in Jaworki. The first part of the trail goes through Homole Gorge which is popular among tourists.

The trail through the gorge is well prepared but it is narrow which is annoying with the number of people visiting the place. A couple of times I needed to stop myself from a loud swearword when somebody suddenly stopped right in front of me and I almost hit his back.

wysoka crown of polish mountains

Luckily most of the people went only to the viewpoint at the end of the gorge, the trail was much more empty further on.

We quickly understood why.

wysoka crown of polish mountains

Wysoka, despite its name isn’t high but its slopes are steep. The elevation isn’t big (510m) but you need to hike it on a short distance. On 1 km from the campground Pod Wysoką to the meadow Pod Wysoką you need to climb 240m up.

It doesn’t sound scary.

wysoka crown of polish mountains

wysoka crown of polish mountains

But either I had a bad day or it was because Adam didn’t carry everything for me this time ( 🙂 ) and my backpack was quite heavy. I had a tough time during the ascent.

From the meadow you have a while to rest – but not long enough. Last couple hundred meters of ascent isn’t easier, you need to climb high rocks. The name of the mountain didn’t appear out of nowhere after all 🙂

wysoka crown of polish mountains

There’s not much space on top, it’s hard to stop there for a longer rest. I took a few pictures and we headed towards the mountain hut Pod Durbaszką.

wysoka crown of polish mountains

wysoka crown of polish mountains

View from top of Wysoka

wysoka crown of polish mountains

View from top of Wysoka

Wysoka (Wysokie Skałki) – The Crown of Polish Mountains – a moment of fear and a lesson

wysoka crown of polish mountains

Hiking Wysoka reminded me quite painfully that regardless of the mountain’s height and hike’s length you can’t overestimate your abilities. We didn’t get any rest on top because the predicted rain was clearly on its way. We decided we will rest and eat when we arrive to the mountain hut. It’s not that far after all.

Huge mistake. We had breakfast before 7 am, it was midday already. I used a lot of energy for the ascent, more than I usually would. I was tired on top.

Despite the fact that the hut is located much lower, there still are some ascents on the way. On one of them I suddenly felt like I’m going to faint. I had cold sweat running down my forehead and back. I’ve never experienced it before in the mountains and I got scared. My body run out of energy, it didn’t have any source of it left.

wysoka crown of polish mountains

The conclusion for me and for you. If you feel you need more energy, eat something. Even if it rains on your head, other tourists step on your shoes on top, you’re chased by a storm. If you really need to run from the weather, eat while walking but don’t let yourself run out of energy. It can end up with a bit of fear at best. I don’t even want to imagine the worst case of losing your balance in high mountains on a narrow trail.

Luckily I managed to pull myself together and we reached the mountain hut safely. But I will remember this lesson for a long time.

Wysoka (Wysokie Skałki) – The Crown of Polish Mountains – evening in the mountain hut Pod Durbaszką

wysoka crown of polish mountains

In the hut after eating a good meal we could relax with a book on the covered terraces and watch the show of storms. I haven’t seen so spectacular clouds for a long time.

wysoka crown of polish mountains

I strongly recommend the hut Pod Durbaszką for spending the night – the terraces are great and in case of terrible weather it has a very cozy common room with a fireplace.

I talked all afternoon about photographing the sunset. Adam laughed at me – what sunset do you want to find if we can’t see even a little piece of the sky…

wysoka crown of polish mountains

But I hoped. I had this image in my head of the orange sun visible between the storm clouds. The weather, usually so mean for me listened to me this time. The show last a few seconds. One picture. But exactly like I imagined it 🙂

wysoka crown of polish mountains

The next day, soaked to the bone after walking down from the hut we didn’t hike Radziejowa. We went to Cracow to meet our friends. It’s a pity we didn’t climb the other peak – but we will be back. And in Cracow at least we didn’t have storms, gales and tornados so strong the farmers are warned to protect their livestock which otherwise may fly away 🙂

The Crown of Polish Mountains – Wysoka (Wysokie Skałki) from Jaworki through Homole gorge – practical information

Distance: 6,7 km. From mountain hut Pod Durbaszką there is a gravel road down the mountain. It’s visible on the map and takes around 40 minutes to get down.

Time: 2h35 + around 40 mins if you take the gravel road down to Jaworki from the hut.

Elevation gain: 550m

For whom? Even though this hike is short it is not good for inexperienced hikers and those who do sport rarely. The trail is very steep in some places and if you don’t have good shoes you might find it difficult. If you’ve done a couple of trails before and you do sport regularly you will manage with no problems.

Where to park the car? In Jaworki near Homole gorge there is a big paid parking. Except for this in the village itself you can find many private paid parkings. We haven’t found a good unpaid spot (don’t try the church – we checked and there’s no parking there 🙂 )

Enjoy your hike to Wysoka! Check why it’s worth hiking the Crown of Polish Mountains, what respect lesson I got from another peak from the crown– Babia Góra and what surprised me on Wielka Sowa (The Big Owl). Make sure you know how to prepare for a hike.

And if you’re still wondering why the hell people go hiking check how mountains help me get my priorities right – and can help you too.

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