Winter trail in the Gorce Mountains

 A moment of relaxation and oblivion on mountain trails in winter scenery. A story about a lonely run in Gorce.

inspiration / discover

Winter running in the mountains, tracks in deep snow.

      Ring ring…! The terrifying sound of the alarm clock breaks the morning silence of a darkened room. I hate this moment! The very thought of getting up right now makes me sick. Just a second. One minute, two … I’m lying still. No more self-pity. I throw off the warm sheets with a firm movement. The morning bath quickly brings me back to reality.

      A quick glance at what is happening outside the window. Hoarfrost. The ground was covered with heavy frost. One might say – finally. After all, this is the beginning of a new year. Strong coffee and a light, nutritious breakfast give you energy. All doubts disappear. I put on all my running clothes right away. Two bars, gel, one and a half liters of water in Camelbak, glasses, telephone. A route written on a piece of paper in my pocket.

Winter running in the mountains, tracks in deep snow.

      I finish the steep drive to the Przegibek Pass and arrive at the starting point. The thermometer shows minus twelve degrees as I park the car. The higher, there colder it will certainly be. Hopefully there will be no wind. I put on my backpack in the car and change my shoes to running shoes. I take off my warm jacket and, rather nervously, almost run out of the car. Immediately a chill sweeps over my body. I put on glasses. The sun is operating quite intensively in the sky. I check my mobile watch. And off we go. One of the oldest trails in the Gorce Mountains leads from the Przysłop Pass to Turbacz through ten magnificent mountain clearings. The yellow trail leads quite sharply up from the start. At the beginning, asphalt. I jog. Running out near a house onto a small hill. Amazing views! The sun is flooding the area.

      A steep ascent in the forest begins. In fact, the entire 12 km long route rises almost nonstop, reaching almost 1,100 m. I slowly get into the rhythm of the run. “Absorbing” nature. Healthy, fresh, frosty morning air allows you to breathe freely. It is a real relief for the lungs after polluted Krakow. I am running in the first range. I could easily talk to someone but I’m glad to be alone. From time to time I sip from the Camelback, although I know it’s only a matter of time before the tube coming out freezes.

      The trail leads through another clearing. I lose it for a bit, but intuitively find it after a while. Running here is great. I’m not in a rush at all. From the very beginning, I was able to jog even on the steepest slope. It makes you happy. So far this has been my weakest point. I was able to run down at an insane pace. It also looked good on relatively flat terrain, where I could show off my marathon speed and endurance. I was almost unbeatable on the technically difficult, very steep terrain, with the help of my climbing skills and poles that I use in ultra running. However, I lost the most on the uphills. And now, for a dozen or so kilometers separating me from the mountain pass to the shelter, I run like a deer. It’s really good. Working out in the gym and on the treadmill (where I run once a week on a gradual incline) begins to bring results.

      A black trail leads to the top of Kudłoń on the right side. It leads from Lubomierz through Kopa to Konina. The sun’s rays accompany me all the time and there are wonderful views in numerous clearings. From a distance, you can see sharp peaks of the Tatra Mountains, where so much has been happening lately. Quite unexpectedly, obstacles appear in shaded places on forest sections of the road. Those are streams that have poured out, now turned into hard ice. It’s dangerous to cross them. Sometimes it’s a good few meters of track on which my shoes can slip.

      I leave Kudłoń behind me, heading towards the Borek Pass. Suddenly, I notice a tourist near me. No, not a tourist – she has the usual jogging equipment. After noticing me, she starts running. Soon she catches up with her friends and slows down. I greet the whole group and keep running. It’s probably not far to the shelter. I traverse the front of Turbacz to soon run into a vast clearing. The wind is blowing a little, but not too much.

Winter running in the mountains, tracks in deep snow.

      The wind that day is extremely mild. Several tourists are heading to the same places as me. The last few hundred meters is an unpleasant, run over by vehicle wheels, cold road with quite large furrows. It leads to a mountain shelter on Turbacz. It is located at an altitude of 1,283 m on the edge of the Wolnica Clearing, which is part of Hala Długa. I stop for a moment. The woman I passed below runs towards me. She asks for a photo with the Tatra Mountains in the background. We exchange a few comments. She just came back from trekking in the Himalayas. I truly envy her.

      It’s time for me to come back. I eat one bar, but there’s nothing left to drink. The Camelbac tube is full of ice. It’s a pity. I decide to go back to the Borek Pass along the yellow trail, and then to the car through the blue trail to the end. Suddenly I feel that my hands are stiff with cold, frozen even. It’s probably the effect of a momentary stillness at the top. I need to get the down gloves out of my backpack. I put them on. The difference can be felt immediately, although it will take a while before it gets warm. Meanwhile, circulation returns to the hands. It is a painful process. I breathe a sigh of relief. There is no joking. You can really hurt yourself in a matter of moments.

      Time passes quickly. The run down to the Borek Pass is just a moment. This is where the blue trail begins, which actually turned out to be a rather uninteresting section compared to the previous paths. There are no clearings or viewpoints here. Only the rather strongly frozen stream of Kamienica delights with its charm, creating wonderful ice shows in some places. The road runs gently downward almost all the time, allowing you to run effortlessly. At last a clearing can be seen. I cross the stream on a solid bridge and reach the nearest buildings on its left side. The last kilometer, however, requires increased effort. The asphalt road is steep, eventually reaching the main thoroughfare. After crossing it, I run to the parking where my car is.

      The way back was made more pleasant by a chat with a student, whom I took from the cold bus stop. He has just spent the New Year’s Eve in a shepherd’s hut on the slopes of Gorzec. 27 km behind me. Great mountain views. Oxygenated lungs. Joy in the heart. Running in the mountains it’s worth it.

Author: Stanisław Polak

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