Woken up by the first bits of sun dissolving in the air above my tent I step onto cold grass. With the stove set up for coffee I go for a walk on the meadow and enjoy the first glimpses of a day to come.
Checking in with my map I see one particular road marked “destroyed” leading through the Magurski National Park. As bikes are not allowed on trails there, it seems to be my best bet for getting around busy roads.
Krynica is just below and the last big town en route, last opportunity to get some Ukrainian hrywnas. Being a scenic mountain resort with some nicely renovated architecture and mineral water sources it occupies me for a bit longer.
Once all is done and seen I take the tarmac road out of Krynica and into Niżna – a quiet village more suited to buying groceries than the busy and crowded Krynica. At the only shop around I meet a bunch of locals, one of them sporting a bicycle helmet the others red noses. Chatting with them reveals that just past the shop there’s a trail pointing in the exact direction I’m headed. They’re all a merry bunch.
They know their surroundings quite well and the trail turns out to be a pleasure to ride and watch.
It’s been very dry for the last month and local farmers are struggling to keep their cattle hydrated. Rivers turned creeks is all that’s available. An old motorcycle is a farmer’s best friend on a long way to the water source
Sun, heat, shade, water. All are enjoyable in right amounts. Following white and red I ride sun into shade, dry wet feet in the noon heat, let cold water run down my back.
Out of Beskid Sadecki range and into Beskid Niski (Low Beskids) I cross into eastern Poland. There are no markings on the maps for that nor there’s any signs to let one know. It’s all in the air. One sign of it are old orthodox churches from times when these areas were inhibited by Lemkos
, an ethic group resettled in the late 1940s during Operation Vistula.
Names of places are bilingual Polish and Lemko.
My waterbottle cages that I’ve duct-taped to fork legs are showing signs of fatigue. Not so “xtreme” I guess…
In order to avoid some tarmac on the way I decide to follow a faint track leading into the forest. It’s marked on the maps after all.
Yet every time I bump my head against a dead end. It’s already getting dark as I arrive at a crossroads with a bar serving hot food. It turns out to be also a hotel, but after discovering there’s a camping place led by the Mountain Guides Association from Cracow I opt for sleeping outside.
While pitching my tent I meet Michal, a long time resident who tells me stories of the place, of happy times, people that used to hang around here, one particular mice raid and a fire that destroyed the old kitchen building – all dating as far back as twenty years ago. Every event has been kept safe from oblivion in the camp’s log book.
I’m guided to the official bathroom and before joining the bone fire party I take a cold bath in a creek flowing around the camp. Moods are high, stars are shiny, “Bieszczady” wine is passed from hand to hand as the guitar’s sound fills the air and echoes in the branches. It’s nice to have company for the night.
Next morning I take the chance to see the base in daylight in all its glory.
Kitchen with a sink, fridge and relaxation corner.
Cooking a late breakfast is a great time to catch up with new friends.
My guide to Radocyna’s history – Michal.
Ania, a soon-to-be lawyer, but also a keen hiker and mountain guide. Currently on a mission to archive local skiing trails as GPS tracks for later winter use. A trusty cromoly bicycle is the right tool for the job.
Marcin and his family, who shares his knowledge of trails in the Ukrainian part of the Carpathians.
It’s almost impossible to leave this place, but eventually I do. Having a dirt road to follow makes this act somehow easier. I’m following the Carpathian bike trail for a bit.
It’s a beautiful blue-sky day.
Blue goes well with yellow.
Entering the Magurski National Park. Dead ends are for cars.
The heat is becoming unbearable and while in Krempna I take refugee in a cold river. By chatting to this gentleman angler I get to know that not far away from here, on the Slovakian side the Andy Warhol Museum of Modern Art in Medzilaborce can be found.
Another sign of being in eastern Poland are the wooden bridges.
and bicycle stands that won’t take 29er rubber.
The draught and heat brought in early signs of autumn. Not only cows have a hard time this summer.
Nothing a map couldn’t handle.
The perspective of getting lost in such a landscape doesn’t seem to awful.
Running low on supplies.
Nothing a visit to a grocery shop wouldn’t handle.
After making good experience at Radocyna I opt to visit the next base en route, this time it’s an old hut run by students from Rzeszów. Signs on the road tell me it’s a good decision.
“Live in the moment”
One last visit in a Lemkos museum I find by the road. Although it’s already closed, the gates are open and I can catch a glimpse of it.
It’s late when I get to the hut located just past Zyndranowa. People there are proof I’ve found home for another night.