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THE CHOCHOŁOWSKA VALLEY

15/08/2010 15:37

Walking time: 2 hours
We reach the Chochołowska Valley from Chochołów, a very pretty village famous for its spotlessly clean buildings. The ritual of sprucing up the outside of houses is a very old tradition.

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Walking time: 2 hours
We reach the Chochołowska Valley from Chochołów, a very pretty village famous for its spotlessly clean buildings. The ritual of sprucing up the outside of houses is a very old tradition. It takes place twice a year: obligatorily for Corpus Christi and Christmas and for volunteers at Easter and on St Jacek’s (St Hyacinth’s) Day. According to the tradition, it is the women who clean the buildings and the men who prepare the special scaffoldings so that every corner can be attacked with broomsticks. Cleaning lasts several days and gaździnas rarely do it on their own. These days they hire myjocki (cleaners) and the walls are shining in just one day. Once, a highlander would judge whether a potential wife was hardworking enough by the whiteness of her house’s walls. It is also worth visiting the house that, according to legend, was built 180 years ago from a single fir tree. There are several legends recounting the origin of the name Chochołów. Probably the most entertaining claims that Cepers who saw the local highland women scrubbing the walls in an energetic manner exclaimed “Ho, ho, ho!” in appreciation.
Having reached the car park by Siwa Polana glade, we begin the hike with an hour-long walk on an asphalt road to Polana Huciska glade, either on foot or using a bike rented for a symbolic fee with no red tape. You can also go by railway, which covers the 4.5 km route to Huciska in 15 minutes. The fare is 2 PLN (2003/2004). The first train departs at 8 am and then every 30 minutes thereafter. Fifteen to twenty people can travel on each trip. It is worth noting that the train is set up to carry disabled persons.
At first you cross open land but after a while you enter a row of spruces. Sharp peaks emerge on the right every now and then and straight ahead the peaks of Czerwone Wierchy can be seen. Finally, you arrive at Polana Huciska glade. On the left is the beautiful vista of the summit of Kominiarski Wierch. There is still an hour of uphill walking to the mountain lodge along a wide, hardened road. After 15 minutes, a branch of the Ścieżka nad Reglami path via Polana Jamy glade diverges to the left. After another five minutes the peak of Turnia Olejarnia appears on the right and just after that there is a trail to the Iwaniacka Pass and to the Siwa Pass via the Starej Roboty Valley on the left. After another 20 minutes, a trail to Mount Trzydniowiański Wierch turns off to the left. Soon the forest ends and you come out into the edge of Wielka Polana Chochołowska glade. From here the peak of Kominiarski Wierch is visible on the left and the peak of Bobrowiec on the right. Twenty minutes more walking brings you to the Chochołowskie mountain lodge—the largest in the Tatras and situated at an altitude of 1150 m AMSL. Just before you reach the lodge a yellow trail heads off to the right toward Mount Grześ (about 1 hour 30 minutes away) and then on to Mount Rakoń and Mount Wołowiec, the latter being the most westerly of the Tatras’ summits.
[rys. str. 69]
A few dozen metres below is a branch towards the left that leads to Mount Trzydniowianski Wierch and Mount Končistá via the Jarząbcza Valley. There is also a trail via the Wyżnia Chochołowska Valley to Mount Wołowiec. The first part of the trail via the Jarząbcza Valley is called Szlak Papieski (the Pope’s Trail) commemorating Pope John Paul II, who came here for a walk during his pilgrimage to Poland in 1983.
To sum up, the Chochołowska Valley is the largest valley on the Polish side of the Tatras. It is about 35 km2 in area and 10 km long (ending at Wielka Polana glade). About two thirds of its area is forested, mostly with spruce. There are a large number of shepherd’s huts in the valley to cater for the annual pasturing of sheep. The valley is at its most beautiful in the spring when it is covered with blooming crocuses. Because of its considerable distance from the nearest town, it is the most seldom visited of the valleys branching off towards the foot of the mountains.




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