Téryho chalet and the valley of the five lakes
Téryho chata is a chalet high in the Slovak High Tatra mountains, perched on the edge of a cliff with views down the long valley. Behind the chalet is a breathtaking valley with five tarn lakes, lorded over by craggy, austere mountain peaks.
Between an extra bank holiday just this year celebrating the 100th anniversary of Czechoslovakia (which doesn’t exist anymore) and a regular bank holiday for All Saints Day (my favourite tradition), the kids had a week off from school. My husband also took a few days off, and so we hightailed it to the mountains.
The fall is the best time to visit the High Tatras, as the weather is more stable, and this autumn has been particularly gorgeous. While it has snowed a few times already in the alpine, a burst of warm weather meant that only small patches were left.
Hiking with kids usually means we play it by ear – we don’t want to push them too far and so we plan on going only as far as they can manage. Téryho chata was our optimistic destination but my husband was doubtful we would get there. The chalet lies at an elevation of 2015 m (6210 feet), 19 km (12 miles) from Starý Smokovec, where we were staying. And the twins are only six, after all. But, as you will see, they surpassed our expectations.
From Starý Smokovec we hiked up the green trail to Hrebienok. Hrebeň means ridge (and also comb); hrebienok means diminuative ridge – and is the name of a ski resort. A funicular, a mini train on a cable, does run up to the ridge but we wanted to leave before it started running. Well, to be honest, we were a little purist too, and wanted to power ourselves up the mountain. By ‘we’ I mean the adults. We started the day hiking through bright orange larches under a clear blue sky, with Lomnický štít (peak) calling us ahead.
From Hrebienok we took the red trail, bypassing Bilíkova chata and Rainerova chata, to Zamkovského chata. On the way, a bridge lies under the spray of Obrovský vodopád (Giant Waterfall, or Great Waterfall), much to the delight of the children.
We also met our first of two foxes, foxes that were a bit too friendly. We all loved seeing the creatures up close, as they circled around us, wary legs ready to spring but not scared. I’m afraid hikers have been feeding them, or maybe a mother with a young one that also got accustomed to humans? There was a fox at two different points along the trail that displayed the same behaviour. As lovely as it was to see the foxes up close, however, a wild animal is never tame and ought to be scared of people. Despite my misgiving, though, they posed for some lovely photos and the children were enchanted.
After Zamkovského chata we took the green trail up Malá Studená dolina (Small Cold Valley), following a clear turquoise creek that rushed down the mountainside. While rocks have been leveled out to make the trail, that type of trail is actually tiring to hike as you can’t step according to your legs but with varied strides according to rock placement.
Above the trees
As the valley gains elevation, so do the ridges along each side. Through the trees, through the pine krummholz. Slowly the splendor of the end of the valley is revealed. On the left looms the bulky mass of Prostredný hrot (Middle Spike), in the middle a long waterfall tumbles down a cliff with third tallest peak Ľadový štít lurking behind, and on the right towers the depth of Lomnický štít, the second highest peak of the Vysoké Tatry (High Tatras). If you look very closely at the top of the cliff, you can see the chalet as a small dot.
On the trail we met a number of mountain porters, called nosiči, carrying items to the chalets, loads towering far above their heads. Five or six chalets in Slovakia still use men who carry heavy loads of food, bedding, and other necessary things up and down the mountain. Like, for example, kegs of beer. They’ve achieved a bit of legendary status in Slovakia, not personally I think, but as a group. Which is understandable, as we all admire such feats of strength and endurance. While Slovaks aren’t the type to say anything to a stranger, tourists (like me) taking pictures certainly comes with the job. I wasn’t bold enough to shove a camera in their faces though.
The last push to Téryho chata requires zig-zagging up the steep rockfall at the end of the valley. It’s an incline that gets the heart pumping, shall we say. But, soon enough, you turn the bend and suddenly the chalet is right there. But oh, was it windy! The hike so far had been mild, we were hiking in sweaters until then (which for October 31 is lovely weather), but around the chalet a bitingly cold and relentless gust made us pull out all our warm gear.
We quickly found refuge inside. Seeing as we had only had one break on the way up, we were ready for rest and food. A seat with a view over the valley, a cheery fire in the glass-door stove, a large bowl of garlic soup with croutons and cheese. Aaahh, comfort.
Beyond the chalet
But not for long. While eating we debated what we should do. Walk around the lakes behind and head back down? Go further along the trail, seeing as the kids had done so well? I had never been to this valley before and at first thought maybe we could go farther, but my husband explained that the saddles would be covered by snow, and were quite steep. So, I thought that we were going to explore around the lakes, and decided that I preferred going slow and taking a bunch of pictures anyway. But, as we walked along, he turned to go uphill.
After some snow and guiding chains, my husband seemed to fly ahead, just before it was obvious that some of the kids were done. A few tears, or maybe more. Cajoling from me that we only had to go as far as Tato and then we would turn around. My outer cajoling was cheerful and chipper, but internally I was nashing my teeth at why he disappeared.
As it turned out, he wanted to scout out how close the viewpoint was at the top of the first hill (you can see it above the chalet’s left chimney). We scrambled up a few meters to a lovely grassy knoll with a view over all. Soup and a few pieces of bread and meat spread hadn’t been enough for my little hikers, so we plunked down and pulled out all our goodies for a second lunch.
To the west the trail continued up a narrow rocky valley (a couloir?) and divided, the yellow trail heading seemingly straight up a gully over a saddle and the green trail going farther north and visibly zig-zagging up over another steep saddle, to be explored at a later date. Prostredný hrot towered to the south, and we could look down on the chalet to the east.
As we sat, my husband pointed out more names than I can remember of places that he has climbed, various peaks (including Prostredný hrot) with routes through chutes and saddles and faces. It seems that every bump and climbing feature has a name.
The valley behind the chalet is called Päť Spišských plies, Five Spiš Tarns, referring to the fact that this area was once part of the Spiš region. The tarns, small glacially formed lakes, are amusingly called Upper, Lower, Middle, Big, and Little. Their names certainly help with accuracy in communication, but Anne of Green Gables would not approve.
I took about a million photos, but to do it some semblance of justice I would need a drone. Any attempt to describe it seems so cliche. Majestic. Awe-inspiring. Grandiose. Cliche, perhaps, but true.
And then we were headed back down. Past the lakes, goodbye chalet, down the rockfall cliff, along the valley, hello foxes. “I’m tired” was a common refrain from two kids, and girl twin got a few piggy backs. Her shoes were a bit slippery, making the hike harder. Boy twin, on the other hand, seems to have a source of inexhaustible energy.
Looking down on Hrebienok
It was dark by the time we got back to Starý Smokovec and Villa Kunerad, where we could take off our boots and socks (such a good feeling after a day of hiking!) and eat a well deserved hot dinner. Despite the 21 km and 1300 m (4265 feet) elevation gain, however, I can’t say the kids seemed to fall asleep any faster.
Our trail is highlighted in yellow. Clicking on the map leads to a hiking website describing more about the chalet, in Slovak.
Téryho chata is open all year round.
We stayed at Villa Kunerad (more about that in the next post about our trip).
More information about the High Tatra area.
Lomnický štít on the right peak. You can see the observation deck built on top.
Nov 14, 2018 @ 13:42:27
Naomi, it’s nice to see a post from you! I enjoyed the photos and your hike…the children did so well!
Nov 14, 2018 @ 22:59:06
Thank you! Glad you enjoyed it. And yes, the children did so well!
Nov 19, 2018 @ 21:51:38
Naomi, Thanks for your hiking narrative and the beautiful photos! You have strong children and they are fortunate to have parents who connect them to nature. It has been only two months since I was there but I miss Slovakia SO much and hope to return to the Tatry once again! Dakujem!
Nov 22, 2018 @ 12:03:44
Thank you, I’m glad you enjoyed the post. I’m also happy you enjoyed your time in Slovakia so much! I try and share what I love with my kids 🙂
Nov 14, 2018 @ 14:53:50
Beautiful, quite an experience for your family. Thanks for sharing this.
Nov 14, 2018 @ 23:08:42
Yes, I am so blessed to have such an experience. Glad you enjoyed it!
Nov 14, 2018 @ 15:58:08
Thank you Naomi I’m gonna forward this to my sibling
Nov 14, 2018 @ 23:00:26
Glad you enjoyed it, thanks for sending it on!
Nov 14, 2018 @ 16:42:32
Love this sharing of life love, pictures places views. Great small experience of your grand experience. Thanks so much dear ones. Love Bobbi
Nov 14, 2018 @ 23:11:19
What a great way to put it. Happy you enjoyed the little experience!
Nov 14, 2018 @ 17:45:54
Thank you for sharing your adventure.
Nov 14, 2018 @ 23:11:44
Glad you enjoyed it!
Nov 14, 2018 @ 17:46:26
Beautiful pictures as always, Naomi. Thank you for sharing.
Nov 14, 2018 @ 23:01:10
So glad you enjoyed it!
Nov 14, 2018 @ 19:11:42
Beautiful. I want to know how you or your husband (the one in the pictures carrying a backpack loaded to about 30 feet) did not topple over in the winds you mentioned!! Wow!
Nov 14, 2018 @ 23:17:11
Oh, the one with the big backpack is a mountain porter, they carry those heavy loads up. Not sure how he didn’t topple over, it is impressive!
Nov 14, 2018 @ 19:36:26
Great photos of a beautiful area, Naomi. Very impressive that your children did so well with the hike!
Nov 14, 2018 @ 23:17:55
Thank you! I am very proud of them!
Nov 14, 2018 @ 20:22:50
Really nice pictures .Thank you for sharing them with me & others
Nov 14, 2018 @ 23:01:57
So happy you liked it!
Nov 15, 2018 @ 00:03:14
Lovely pictures, Naomi! (also not far from where one of my great-grandmothers was from, on the Polish border 🙂 )
Nov 15, 2018 @ 11:41:21
Thank you, it is a beautiful area, your great-grandmother must have loved it.
JAMES ANDREW YENCHUS
Nov 15, 2018 @ 04:57:40
Thank you for sharing, Naomi! Once again you have done a magnificent job sharing an adventure with your beautiful family. Your descriptions are always done in a fashion that makes me feel I was there with your family hiking in the Tatras. Your photography is the icing on the “Let’s take a hike” cake and I find the views breathtaking. When my Mother and I visited many years ago, to visit the village she was born in we did it the lazy way. It was by cable car with no hiking involved. I have fond memories of beautiful Slovakia.
Thank you, Jim
Nov 15, 2018 @ 12:19:29
Aw, thank you so much for the kind words, I’m glad you felt like you were there. The cable car is a wonderful opportunity for people to get into the mountains.
Lee aka Grammyprepper
Nov 15, 2018 @ 05:10:09
Absolutely amazing photography, as usual! Nice to hear from you again! Your children will remember your adventures together all their lives!
Nov 15, 2018 @ 12:20:51
Yes, I hope these are the memories they cherish. Thank you! And I hope you’ll hear more from me.
Nov 15, 2018 @ 06:09:57
Beautiful pictures! Thank you for sharing, and what a beautiful fox. I have also heard there is a competition they do every year relating to the men that carry stuff up and down the mountains, like a speed race!
Nov 15, 2018 @ 12:24:30
Thank you! Yes, there is a porter carrying competition, someday I’ll get there.
Nov 15, 2018 @ 08:56:51
Naomi, I just love the way you have always reached for the stars and now you take your wonderful family into the heights.
I spent Christmas holidays in the Polish mountains in Jelenia Góra, Karpacz, and
Zakopane. Has the snow covered the mountains in your photos by now?
Have a beautiful winter season.xxx
Nov 15, 2018 @ 12:31:39
Thanks Basia! I haven’t gotten to the Polish side of the mountains yet but I’ve looked down on them many a time. What a beautiful Christmas that must have been. We’ve had such blue sky weather that I think there is only a dusting of snow on the tops of the mountains still.
Nov 16, 2018 @ 03:37:28
Glad the kids didn’t get hurt. Looks a little risky.
I skid @ Strbske Pleso w.Cousin’s son from Trebisov in 2015, then passed thru Stary Smokovec on a group motorcycle tour out of Slovenia in the summer of that same yr. staying @ Stary Smokovec 2 nites en route to Krakow.
—75 y.o. Ken in Ohio
Nov 16, 2018 @ 13:05:57
The kids were safe – we were with them and I believe that kids learn what they are capable of by actually doing things. And pictures also can be a bit misleading. Motorbikes sound dangerous to me! 🙂 But a great way to see the country, sounds like a beautiful tour.
Nov 26, 2018 @ 21:33:39
Hi Naomi Thanks for sharing your written account and beautiful photos of family hike into the mountains. Some very spectacular country. Yes, I think that hiking with kids is it’s own skill set.
Dec 03, 2018 @ 15:17:46
I remember you telling me, as a child, various tips so that the hike up the mountain didn’t seem so long. Where I first learned the fraction 1/3, I believe. 🙂 Glad you enjoyed it!
Dec 01, 2018 @ 05:52:53
Lovely photos. I have done this hike 2 or 3 times myself and loved it. Once was for a film project where we brought a drone with us, feel free to check out the footage in the first few minutes and the ending of this short film: vimeo.com/RobertGlowacky/BriningBackBodrik
Keep blogging 🙂
Dec 03, 2018 @ 15:27:03
Yes, I saw BBB a while ago and love it. How did you find a traditional shepherd, by the way?
I just made my first attempt at video, quality is absolutely horrible but it’s the first step to learning!
Thanks for the encouragement 🙂