The Sleeping Knight – A Queue with a View

If you climb in a mountain in the Polish Tatras, it has to be Giewont – otherwise known as the Sleeping Knight. Or so I was told.

You can see it from the town, which is probably why it’s so popular – it has a pretty impressive unobstructed view.

Once again we got the bus from Zakopane to Kuznice to shave off those initial kilometres, and took the ‘easiest’ route from there.

There are a couple of huts on route where you can use the toilet – this is the second one at 1335m. By this point I was already a bit sick of rocky paths again and my calves were giving me a bit of trouble – possibly due to my heavy boots. People here prefer trainers and I can see why.

Couldn’t complain too much though with views like this on the way up – and will plenty of stops to get some leg energy back it was okay.

See – happy smiling people! We even saw some cool wildlife, an eagle and a chamois. Thanks Dan for taking all the cute wildlife photos.

Now ALOT of people hike up Giewont. So once you get to the steeper rocky bits the rocks get really smooth – like super slippy smooth. There are chains to help but it still isn’t easy (though kids do it so I’m probably exaggerating a bit). I don’t have lots of pictures of it but yeah.

This was a particularly nasty bit. Not fun! Gnarly.

And then we got to the summit, where there is a giant metal cross which has been struck by lightning many times. Good job we had no thunderstorms today. Didn’t get lots of photos because as you can see, lots of people.

So much so, that on the way up and down there was a queue!

A queue with quite a view though!

This is a less dramatic one. When we got back off the summit the queue to go up was ridiculous. There is actually a one way system, which is very useful! I did lots of using my bum as a fifth limb to get down which totally works for me.

We chose a different route down so we could go straight back to Zakopane and not visit Kuznice again. This route down is much more difficult with a little more scrambling and lots of big rocks to skip down. I was glad for my heavy boots on the way down – I guess you win some and lose some.

I pretty much needed the toilet the whole way but the abundance of running water and people meant no wee for me for a while.

We reached another hut at the end of the steep parts where I could go to the toilet – it was the most disgusting portaloo I’ve ever used but a girl gotta pee when a girl gotta pee. Note to self – bring the shewee in future – even for day hikes.

From the hut was another hours walk back to Zakopane.

Look, you can see Giewont again!

Saw a cute squirrel on the way back.

Now I’m back at the hotel and can’t wait to eat dinner tonight. Hopefully I’ll be rested enough to hike again tomorrow to see one of the famous lakes.

We’re in the Pyrenees!

In complete argument with my inner planner, we booked a last minute holiday to the Pyrenees. After waiting a day to hear if we could stay in our chosen accommodation, and having to try a second company to hire a car, we were all set!

Having had a couple of occasions of trying to sleep in the airport, or leaving the house at 1.30am to get there in time, we did the unthinkable and slept in an airport hotel. Even though we still had to wake up at 3:30am, it was totally worth it. Extra sleep = happy me.

From there it was no nonsense. Park the car, get on the bus, drop bags off that combined didn’t break the weight limits, through security, 5:30am breakfast, flight to Toulouse! (Thanks Ryanair for giving me the whole emergency exit row to myself – would have been nice to have sat with Dan who also had a row to himself 12 rows in front of me).The hire car proved no problem once we landed. Except it’s huge compared to what we normally get given! It does have a huge sunroof and in built satellite navigation so we can at least find our way to places!

We stopped at a little supermarket on the way, not realising it was closing at 1pm because it’s Sunday. We had half an hour and got a few bits and bobs for dinner. And then, pretty much 3 hours early, we arrived in Anilac, Oust.We decided to take a walk to the next village, Cominac, and got some spectacular mountain views, even with the overcast sky.We arrived back at Anilac to discover we’d been upgraded to a bigger gite as another family had stayed there the week before and it made sense not to warm another house.It’s so cute with the most amazing shower and heated floor in the lounge.

We cooked and ate dinner, read some, then decided to walk up the road a bit to get some phone signal.After giving the owner’s dog a fuss, Canelle (Cinnamon), we saw another tiny grey dog, who decided to bark at us, and attract it’s pal, a giant alsatian, who decided to chase us up the road with snapping teeth.

Tiny grey dog snapped at Dan’s ankles too!They abandoned chase and we got a tiny bit of signal at the end of the road. Then we realised we had to get back. Big dog spotted us but stayed in the garden of his house and we made it back. Note to self: some dogs are terrifying and don’t want to be friends. And sprinting is never a good idea after dinner.

Had an excellent cup of pukka’s relax tea (the irony is not lost) and went to bed in the cosy upstairs room.Here’s to avoiding scary Alsatians and seeing some beautiful sites.

Puig de Massanella – My First Summit

17th April 2018, a few days into a holiday in Mallorca. The day of my first mountain summit. Puig de Massanella, 1364m, the second highest on the island, the highest accessible to the public.

Starting at Cúber, a reservoir surrounded by fantastic scenery, I didn’t quite know what to expect. But I had my trusty boots and trekking poles, and my other half (aka the navigator).

First was a nice, flat amble alongside an aqueduct with some pretty views of the reservoir and surrounding mountains.

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Then we entered a forest, beginning the ascent. Here the trees provided some much needed shade. We crossed a group of older people, all kitted out with their trekking poles. We passed each other many times on our ascent to the viewpoint below the scramble to the summit. They were so happy – and it was amazing to see people as old as my grandparents climbing the same hills as I was. If I can do that when I’m that old, I’ll be very happy!

At that point my calves began to really hurt with each step, but my other half thought to tighten my boots and that seemed to keep the pain at bay. The hike was beginning to feel long, and we hadn’t even exited the forest yet! At this point, I began thinking there was no way I’d make it to the top (my uphill walking fitness is pretty rubbish haha).

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After a lunch of trail mix (ours has cashews, raisins, dried cranberries and apricots), we finally left the forest and could see the peaks before us. A rocky path would lead us upwards – at times we lost it and had to clamber over some bigger rocks to get back on the right track.

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Finally, we reached the view point – the clear skies allowing us to see all the way to Menorca. And we again met the older people, who had finished their ascent and were enjoying a nice lunch. At that point we had to decide if we’d carry on to the summit. Me, being inexperienced, didn’t quite realise how much scrambling that would require. But I’d come this far – and really wanted to reach my first mountain summit!

So off we went, beginning the climb. I hadn’t scrambled anywhere near as far before. It was actually quite scary, and my thighs ached with every step upwards. But I saw many people passing us on their way down, and knew if they could do it then so could I. Someone was even hiking in a long skirt!

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We made it to the summit plateau, and hiked across to the summit, almost at our end point. We crossed paths with lots of goats (how I wish I had the agility of a goat!). My other half captured a great video of one making a very human like noise! Then came the last bit of scrambling, and there I was, at the summit of a mountain higher than any in the UK. I could see all of Mallorca from up there.

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All that was left was the descent. The downhill scramble was difficult and challenging – sometimes even scary. But the views were stunning and we made it down to the path in good time. Back through the forest and back along the aqueduct, we made it back to our trusty rental car where we found a few donkeys!

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It was an exhausting day with over 10 hours of walking, but I’ll always remember how it felt to reach my first summit!

I really appreciated my Osprey pack – very comfortable, my hydration bladder (so much easier than getting out a water bottle) and of course my trekking poles.

Here’s to many more mountains in the future – I will not linger only in the foothills anymore!

Rebecca.