Facing challenges: Vápeč

The Strážov mountains are built from a diverse mosaic of different formations, acute limestone cliffs, and rounded hills.

VápečVápeč (Source: VaGa)

We were only 200 metres under the summit when we discovered that we weren't hiking to Vlčinec, but to Vápeč mountain.

That's how it goes in the Strážov mountains.

It is said if you hike there and don't find the next trail marker within 15 minutes, go back to the last one.

Otherwise you will get lost.

The Strážov mountains have no coherent ridge. They are built from a diverse mosaic of different formations, acute limestone cliffs, rounded hills, and mountains frittered away without any order.

But be careful; they are not as innocent as they appear. It is a serious mountain range with sharp degrees of incline, ready to prove your conditioning.

We didn't reach the summit of Vlčinec, but backtracked to battle with Vápeč.

Variable as the London weather

It was one of those first spring days when the sun lacks strength but lures us from our beds.

We started in Homôľka. This famous winter ski centre transformed for the day into a noisy F1 track.

The meadow like a green vestibule of the forest spread in front of our eyes.

And as we saw a wild sow with three little piglets running away, we realised nature had finally awoken.

We continued through the beech forest, which with the change in altitude became more heterogynous.

A hike to Vápeč mountain is as variable as the London weather. The mild walk transforms into a slight and then steep climb.

And under the summit everything changes again. The almost Alpine type rocky and steep terrain appears in front of you.

Special charm of mountains

The 956 metre high Vápeč mountain has great ambiance even though it is not very high and disappears in the shadow of other mountains here.

But only this mountain looks like a rocky town, like the smaller brother of Malý and Veľký Rozsutec situated in the Malá Fatra mountains, or Sivý vrch from the Western Tatras.

And the mountain has its own special charm and secret atmosphere, just like the mountains here used to have.

The hike of 500m in altitude is demanding, but it is worth every drop of sweat.

The view of the White Carpathians, Moravian Javorníky mountains, Súľovské Skaly mountains, Malý and Veľký Manín, and the king of Strážovské Vrchy mountains, is breath-taking.

You can also admire interesting and narrow valleys. And distinctive, almost forgotten villages hidden at their heart.

The visit rate is low. You could be here alone, only with your thoughts and challenges.

You can get lost. You can meet a bear.

Places to discover

The mineral springs are amazing here. The healing waters in Trenčianske Teplice were priced by Quads and Marcomanni tribes, and the Roman legions as well.

And the mediaeval castles are legendary.

Trenčín castle with its stones engraved with Roman lettering and its “well of love”.

The "fairy-tale" Bojnice castle with its 600-year old lime tree of King Matthias. And Uhrovec with its brave lady, who, during the Turkish invasion, recognised the Turkish pasha among his troops and killed him with a single gunshot.

In Uhrovec the Challenge of the Strážov mountains starts and ends.

The 160 km long trail run snakes through the mountains and valleys with a change of altitude of 8,711 m.

If you do it within 44 hours, you get a badge.

If not, you will still feel this electrifying energy of victory and a challenge successfully faced with yourself.

And what about challenges? Which ones are doable and which ones are too tough to tackle?

It is said that when the adventure takes longer than a week, it is too much.

And which challenge is too much?

VaGa Agency is an incoming company concentrating on active, adventure, cycling, and sport tours in Slovakia, in the unique, authentic and safe country, far away from mass tourism; offer undiscovered and amazing places, tailored-made solutions and very professional individual guiding. For more information please visit: Vaga.agency and www.vaga-camp.com.

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