I have seen Zamkovskeho Chata referred to as Zamka hut and in the spirit of laziness will do so henceforth. I think Zamka hut is the prettiest of those we visited on this trek.
I thought it had a definite Alpine feel about it. We had a four bed bunk room which we shared with Kirk, a pleasant Canadian. As an aside, the vast majority of people we encountered appeared to be Slovak, so it was quite rare to hear English spoken. The regular greeting when passing other walkers was “dobry” or sometimes “dobry den”. while I am at it the Slovak word for thank you is Ďakujem (pronounced JAH-koo-yehm).
There was one shower at Zamka Hut and two toilets but it only had 28 places and it was not full so these facilities were quite adequate. Despite being smaller than many it still offered draft beer. Dinner was a little disappointing cabbage soup followed by sauerkraut and beef or pork stew. The most demanding part of our stay here was the night time trip to the toilet. There was absolutely no light whatsoever in the room or corridor and the narrow corridor had a steel ladder right in the middle. The ladder presumably went up to a loft dorm. Our torch had broken so we both had challenging journeys. (In my last post about this trek I will make some suggestions about useful kit to take and a torch will be one.)
Next day the breakfast was a cold meat salad with bread butter and jam and tea or coffee. A little unusual for me but quite good. We were walking by 08.30 but, based on what my partner found to be difficult terrain the previous day and with what looked to be almost impossible for the following day, we decided to select a route of our own design. One that might be a little less demanding. We took a red path down into the valley Velka Studena Dolina then the blue path all the way up the valley and over a col to our next refuge Zbojnicka Chata, a hut located at 1960 m.
To reach the blue path we had to descend 200 metres or so through forest and cross, close by a water fall before eventually crossing the Studeny stream (Studeny Potok). Just after the bridge the blue trail sets off up the valley.
The path climbs steadily for several kms. We saw relatively few people but did see two porters heavily loaded with supplies for the refuge. I would love to know what weights they were carrying but one had a full metal beer barrel as well as other things on his back. As the forest thinned a bit we could see the massive mountains either side and we began to wonder how and where we were going to be able to find a route out of the valley and over to our destination.
Eventually, after we were well past the tree line we came to a small bridge that took us over the stream
and the path climbed more steeply to reach a col with a lake just beyond it Vareskova Pleso. From there we climbed a little further then had the welcome sight of the refuge in the distance.
This was the smallest and most remote of the refuges we visited.
It was also the most basic. There was no shower and just two non-flushing toilets in an outside hut. When we first arrived we were shown up to a low ceilinged loft. Bent double, we were invited to select thin mattresses lying on the floor. We asked about bedding, which we were told was supplied and shown a blanket and pillow. Later, we were told this was a mistake and we were shown to a downstairs dorm with bunk beds and sheets, duvet covers and a pillow case, although these looked as though they had probably been used before! Anticipating a nocturnal trip outside to the toilet shed we asked for and were loaned a lantern light.
Our walk took about twice the time advertised on the way marker signs but this was not a problem and we were there by 4pm. As we were taking a drink on arrival we noticed a pair of hot dogs on one of the tables in the common room of the hut. These moved from table to table during our stay and were still around when we had breakfast next morning, We didn’t like to ask…
Dinner was a pork and rice dish, tasty and very welcome; one of the best evening meals we had. Next day was predicted to be a long-to-impossible one so we retired early. Not everyone did though and despite a distinct lack of lighting talking and singing went on until after ten. That night I visited the toilet and was nearly overcome from the ammonia fumes coming up from the dry toilet. My eyes were watering and I had to hold my breath. Afterwards, I took several minutes to look at the stars, and Milky Way glittering brightly in a clear moonless sky; not a sight I have often seen. Absolutely magnificent.
If dinner had been a culinary high spot, breakfast was a nadir. A few slices of bread and a plate with 3 frankfurters and a squidge of mustard sauce. My brave companion requested and was given some butter and jam. I managed one sausage then shared some of the jam. Several other hut occupants, including a group of 6 girls just returned all the sausages. What a waste, especially considering that they were manually portered up to the refuge.
Next day we set off continuing up the valley trail, a blue path.
We knew we had to climb out of the valley but there did not seem to be a feasible exit until we walked round a bend in the path and we could see a path going steeply up to a bare col. It looked a very challenging climb to a height of about 2200 m.
and so it was.
The route was waymarked but the path frequently disappeared;
a good deal of the ascent was hands-on scrambling. We were very relieved when we reached the top and looked back down the way we came up.
Until we looked down the way we had yet to go
There was the start of a set of chains and an alternative set of rungs set into the rock. Presumably one is designed for ascent and the other for descent in the event of crowds. We had no crowds; only saw 5 people on this stretch. I was unsure and admit to being rather nervous. I started down the rungs then decided the chains offered a safer route. Full marks to my companion who had had a few grumbles on the way up but here just got stuck in and did it. The descent really required hands on attention. After the chains there was some loose rock and stones then we reached a scree slope. The views were fantastic all the way up and down but this wonderful view over Zamrznute Pleso is one of my favourite from the entire tour.
No sooner were we down and across the scree slope than we went up again and over another scree slope to reach Slo’sky Hreben 2200 m. We could not resist a look back and a photo of the col we had just crossed.The latter part of the path up to the new col had been recently pitched with pine logs and crude steps so it was much easier underfoot (although it might not look like it in this pic).
By the time we reached the hotel it was nearly 4pm. We were tired and there was still about 5 km to go with a 500 m sharp descent at the end. We were not going to get there in daylight. When we reached Sliezsky Dom we decided to adopt Plan B.