Why most of our holiday or short break destinations are mountains or places with castle nearby? Well, I was born in town that is an entrance/gate to absolutely magical Polish mountains – Bieszczady. My dad apart from his normal day job was a volunteer in mountain rescue. The way mountain rescue work at that time was staying on “duty” in one of the mountain rescue basis for a week or two from Wednesday to Wednesday. During the summer they were performing typical duties that could be easy descried as search and rescue; during the winter, on the other hand, mountain rescue also covered the ski lifts. Each person on duty could bring their children with them which was very common practice at that time. For me it meant cheap holiday. One of my first memories was that at the age of five, I stayed with my dad in Zelmer’s hotel in Winter.
As a mountain rescuer’s child I was extremely lucky to have all the ski lifts free of charge for whole season. I could ski for all day long for the duration of my dad’s duty. Dad was obviously at work so most of the time I was left to myself. Children don’t always appreciate this stuff neither did I. Technically I could do what I wanted but often a found myself bored. Staying in a remote locations meant that during summer I could only hike or read the books, and during the winter months I could only ski. I often stayed in mountain rescue bases, where the only books available were the books about mountains, hiking, and travelling. One of the first memorable books was “Tatra Trylogy” (pol. “Trylogia Tatrzańska”) by Wawrzyniec Żuławski. This book just hit me, messed with my young head. Reading about heroic rescue missions, mountain tragedies or adventures changed the way I looked at the mountains at the mountain rescue team. I immediately fall in love in mountains and started seeing mountain rescue members as an absolute heroes.
A loaded huge influence was golden era of Polish Himalayan climbers. I clearly remember, from my childhood, watching TV information about achievements of people like Zawada, Rutkiewicz, Wielicki, Cichy, Kurtyka, Hajzer, and the absolute hero of my youth, second person that climed all the fourteen 8000 meter pikes in only 8 years, Jerzy Kukuczka. These people were just heroes for me, and their achievements so great that even Reinhold Messner, the first person who climbed the “crown of Himalayas and Karakorum”, said: “In Himalayas were Polish and nobody else”. And there was literally nobody able to do what they did. You can watch the glimpse of their work in free YouTube video “The art of freedom”. Reading and watching all that changed me, made me love and respect the mountains.
Until we started our adventures, most of our hikes were in Birszczady. I manage to hike a little in Tatra Mountains, but there was nothing else. I am grateful that my wife shares my love and respect towards. The places that I can recharge my batteries and feel free. Kids just follow our lead. We tried beach breaks on a short holidays but I always felt like I don’t belong, I never felt home. In the mountains at always feel different. A field free, calm, I feel home. In the mountains I find everything I need and love and I am happy for my wife to share the same interest. Long it may continue. Castles and history in part 2.