Mike calls the last hike we took in Poland the
It was super intense, long and very rewarding. It began at 5am when a small group of 12 of us boarded the bus to drive about 1.5 hours to the entry point. We then hiked up about 4 miles to the lower lake which has a beautiful view of the huge mountains around and was breathtaking. We grabbed a quick bite to eat, cheese sandwich again, and continued on a path skirting the lower lake.
The trail continued
up beside a water fall to the “upper lake.” This lake is the deepest in all of the Tatra mountains, bigger than the first and clear as can be and looked to be freezing cold! Its 80M deep. Pastor told us that in the wintertime, the snow falls down one side of the mountain and has so much speed that it skates across the whole lake and builds up like crazy on the other side.
We continued around this lake and started the next portion of our ascent. It felt similar to being on a stairmaster for maybe like forever. Sometime along this section I said that I wished we could beat our spiritual bodies into submission as “easily” as we were our physical bodies on this trip. Too true. We took the “trail” up to a helicopter landing point (at least that is kind of what it felt like) and took another snack break. But Pastor wouldn’t let us rest for long, saying the weather could change at any minute and we needed to press on. So we did!
We finished the “stairmaster” portion and began the hand over hand foot over foot rock climbing part. We literally were on our hands and feet climbing and pulling our way up the rock face, sometimes there were chains to help us over certain sections. I’m pretty sure in America we would have signed waivers and worn harnesses and helmets. It was crazy mentally challenging (not to mention physically)
Close to the top (probably 12 meters or so below the summit) I completely panicked. I wasn’t necessarily afraid to go down I was just terrified to keep going up, so I planted my tush on the rock and said, I’m not going any further. One of the other students did the same thing too. I had a few moments of panic with a few tears, and Mike (convincing himself too) said I had to finish, so I got my butt up and continued the hand over hand ascent.
*sorry no pictures to document this part*
The top was fascinating. There wasn’t much room at all to wiggle around, ok no room at all, but it was amazing to see how far up we had climbed and see what seemed like the whole mountain range. Pastor pointed out to us which mountains we climbed in our earlier hikes and we took lots of pictures.
Our summit was short lived as we were again reminded that the weather could change quickly so we got our butts down the mountain. The descent was a crab crawl, butt slide combo. A few of the students started praying out loud. It wasn’t for the faint of heart. I was thankful for the “all mighty guarantee” of the Lord to be with us as well as the “all mighty guarantee” my backpack has as I was using it to help me slide down the mountain.
Close to the upper lake we stopped at some ice glacier kind of thing. From the bottom of the mountain it looks like snow, but when you get closer it turned out to look dirty like parking lot snow and had some really cool shapes. It reminded me of a dried up lake bed in the desert, pitted and wrinkly.
On we pushed and sure enough just as we rounded the upper lake (after about 14 miles and 3,ooo feet up and 2,000 feet down) it started to pour rain. So we slipped and slid down the rest of the way counting our blessings for being off the mountain face and on “solid” ground. We waited at the lower lake to meet up with the rest of the group who only hiked to the lower lake. It did finally clear up, so we finished our 4 mile walk back to the bus.
That evening we were physically exhausted and completely spent. It took about 2 hours to get home on the bus and shortly after showers (for some, not me) and a hot meal, we had our evening service. I had to give my testimony too!! I ended up reading it because literally my knees were shaking from having hiked 20 miles and I could hardly think. But the Lord blessed in spite of my weaknesses and allowed me to share it that night not only once but twice.
Here is sort of a glimpse of what we did. Mike was able to track our hike, well some of it. Tracking the ascent worked, but the descent is a bit broken up due to the butt sliding and how slow we were going it kept thinking we were stopped. We hiked about 18-20 miles to the Rysy point at the bottom of the picture. You can even see the lakes in the picture which is pretty neat.