Papel Trail, Beskid Mtns, Poland


Szlak Papieski (Papel Trail), Beskid Mountains, Poland

These szlaks, or trails, are named so in honour of the most famous man to traverse them: Karol Wojtyla, later to become Jan Paweł II, more commonly known as John Paul II. The main trail is 230km long, but similar trails meander all over the beautiful Beskids, marking the places where Jana Paweła trekked, first as a priest, then bishop, cardinal, and finally, pope. This rustic building, at the Bacówka PTTK na Rycerzowej, is a mountain chalet, a place of convergence for hikers all through the Beskids, from Poland, Slovakia and abroad. In places such as this, locals hold mountain concerts–jolly old men playing on banjos, reminiscent of Laura Ingalls-esque prairie life on what was the American frontier. And when mountain concerts do happen, the chalet is flooded with visitors–propping up colourful mounds of tents if they brought them, and if not, swarming the tiny chalet, paying $5 for a bed, and, when those fill up, $3 for a spot on the floor. Rough as that may sound, the chance to experience a Polish mountain concert deep within the Beskids, one of Poland’s best-kept secrets (Poland has many), with an entirely Polish (speaking) group of companions is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

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