True love brought us to the Bieszczady Mountains! We were supposed to spend two weeks around The Żywiec Beskids, but our friends invited us to the ceremony of transferring to the other side of power, I mean their wedding, that was organised in a wonderful scenery of Magura National Park. Being there, in the southern part of Poland, for us it was already quite close to Bieszczady Mountains! We walked 11 days from Ustrzyki Dolne to get on time to the wedding reception and take part in the ceremony of the year!
Unlike the Beskid Mountains, the Bieszczady Mountains are shrouded in mystery, the power and fear of the wolf and bear. Dense green woods, the open space of polonynas and charm of Bieszczady National Park are something really special. Before we set off Piorun fed us with KSU songs (Polish punk group from the Bieszczady Mountains), we learnt some more about the history of the group and then sang on the way: Góry aż do nieba i zieleni krzyk, polna droga pośród kwiatów… Try to listen 😉
Although leaving Ustrzyki Dolne I wasn’t that sure if we would be able to find ‘this something’ that Bieszczady are famous for. As they are cutting down our forests… The trails are damaged by carrying wood down to the towns. So, when it rains, the mud and plenty of puddles in holes left after heavy equipment appear on the way. In addition, there are a lot of boards with warnings not to enter the trail because of the tree felling. What were we supposed to do? Going an hour up the hill and get back because of the sign? If we had obeyed all these signs, we could stay in the bar in Ustrzyki or go by bus directly to Siekierezada (a famous and hard to describe but really cool bar) in Cisna and spent our time there. Sorrow got into our hearts while hiking through Otryt massif we saw extent of cut trees (also in nature reserve Hulskie), not to mention the noise of chainsaws. It is said that the trees are also planted, but who is right here?
BIESZCZADY national park
Entering Bieszczady National Park (BdNP) and its narrow green paths one can feel the real magic of nature, history of trees and space that doesn’t belong to a man. Fallen trees, grown with moss, blackberry bushes so thick that even a wild bear would be concerned of his fur. We saw footprints and wolf scats, Piorun also spotted bear footprints and bison poos but thinking of our coming night in the tent I tried not to be so focused on that.
BdNP created some educational paths, along which information boards were posted and we really learnt a lot of interesting things. Why beech forests in some parts were caricaturely bent or twisted, and in other places tree trunks had a shape of ‘J’ letter? This is the effect of poor climate conditions or sheperding (the cattle bite the growing trees) or the movement of the soil down the hills that changed the shape of trunks. See, some interesting points.
Educational actions are needed. These basic ones as well… There also should be some signs that once you pee on the trails it is NOT necessary to leave a tissue behind. Or that an egg shell or banana skin is a rubbish in the National Park. Also that plastic bottles do not biodegrade somehow in Bieszczady.
demons and wolves
As we slept in the tent, again the questions appeared, if we were not frightened, or if wild animals approach us or wolf has already frightened us. Off the trails animals are not interested in frightening the tourists at night.
Neither wolves nor bears or deers. Once they feel a human being around they have no intention to come closer. The case is different when the animals get used to a companion of a man and they try to take advantage of it. The smart foxes for instance. They pull out from the tent whatever appears in the range of their foxy noses.
Therefore, it is not the wolf or bear but a red fox that brings destruction at the campsites and by the mountain hostels. It grabbed our bread only that we left by the tent (during the day!), but in the morning we saw shattered bags with food, holes in backpacks and scattered shoes.
Effigies of evil characters appear in the masterpieces of local artists, in restaurants and hostels and they remind of mountain legends. In Komańcza mountain hostel a group of evil creatures can be met, magic mushrooms and bears, and all that in the neighbourhood of Nazaret nun’s convent 😉
There is a legend about Bies and Czads that explains the name of the Bieszczady Mountains, although it was created half of the century ago by an artist and ethnographer Marian Ryszard Hess. He worked as a tourist guide and by his house he created the gallery of wooden sculptures that pictured the effigies of Bies and Czads. He was telling the story to the tourists and scouts that efficiently that the story works until today and is repeated on and on. However, the origin of the name Bieszczady will probably never be discovered. Anyway, the bad Bies, horned and dangerous ruler of mountain land and grotesque Czad seem to be an ideal theme of wooden sculptures. The above story I have read in “Bieszczady. Od Komańczy do Wołosatego.” written by Stanisław Kryciński.
magura national park
That was supposed to be a nice day of trekking, whereas we felt like a group of wild boars going through high grass of ‘bike trail’. I guess that it had been a long time since anyone walked that trail; we lost the signs and had to go back few times wondering whether it was a trail or a wild path made by the animals. Magurski National Park was the last stage of our walking adventure, as the icing on the cake was the wedding of Mariolka and Karol!
Have a look at some more pictures from Bieszczady, that were not posted above 😉