Through the Eyes of the Eco Explorer - Moving with the times. About a dream hiking space
How about a trip to a land of beautiful landscapes, diverse nature, interesting culture, sometimes complicated history (and its traces) and beautiful people?
You will need to pack something to drink and sandwiches in your backpack, because it may take some time before you reach the village and a shop or a place to stay. Something against the rain will also come in handy, because while travelling on foot we experience everything intensively, including the weather.
What will we see? Indeed, a lot since the pace of a hike allows you to be attentive. The trail will lead through a beautiful forest; we will wander under old trees, past fallen trunks and soft green moss. If we are lucky, we will meet animals, while walking we can also look carefully for their tracks. There are few areas in Poland where nature is so wild and has so much space at its disposal. The path also runs through vast meadows and delightful valleys, full of cowslips, clover and pink firlettes in early summer ... Horses, sheep and goats can graze on the meadows, watched over by dogs slightly alarmed by human presence.
Wandering in our own rhythm through the open space, we leave our daily worries behind and can immerse ourselves in the landscape. Thus, we will notice more than just the hills, the beauty of the sky and the small villages scattered among the greenery ... The wooden churches surrounded by tall trees and the Orthodox churches topped with onion domes, picturesquely blending in with the surroundings, will attract our attention. Each is worth a look. Your eye will also detect more mysterious elements, for example, fruit trees planted by human hands but growing in an area where no houses are visible. They are not there today, but the persistently fruiting apple trees are a sign that life once lived alongside them. Their presence encourages you to read the landscape carefully - a lonely cross standing by the roadside or a chapel may also be a trace of history... If you look around and look very carefully under your feet, you may notice an old house threshold or a good shaft in the grass.
What happened to the villages they once belonged to?
Sometimes in the village, and sometimes entirely outside the village, on top of a mountain in the middle of a forest, we can see another trace of a complex history, i.e., cemeteries from the First World War. Each looks a little different, and each has been designed with respect for the memory of all parties. There is much to learn there.
Even though we wander on, with a sense of the great natural and cultural richness of the surrounding world, this is still not all. There are gravestones hidden between the houses of small towns or on wooded hillsides because traces of Jewish culture are another dimension of the space we cross.
And so, the landscape fills with content, bit by bit, step by step. It would be difficult to see from behind a glass, from a distance, and it would be challenging to ask ourselves all these questions while moving faster. The British writer Robert Macfarlane said, "Following a path is like reading a story that others have left us. It's hard to read in a hurry...".
Will we not miss anything? Will we understand everything? Let us ask. Walking is terrific also because it doesn't build distance and makes it easier to talk, and the people of the region we are walking through are wonderful - diverse, with different stories, various professions, open and curious about others. There are also not so many tourists there yet so they are tired of them... Just say "good morning" to someone working in the garden, sitting by the house, or the shop assistant in the shop and the stories will flow....
This dream area for hiking, multicultural, beautiful nature is the Low Beskids. It awaits you about two hours by car southeast of Krakow. You can start your journey in Gorlice, Dukla or Wysowa Zdroj. You can also find traces of Lemko culture by wandering through the eastern part of the neighbouring Beskid Sądecki.
And finally, one more fundamental thing: hiking allows us to learn the world in the least invasive way, with respect for local people and care for nature, which appears especially important today. It turns out that seemingly not very modern hiking is a choice of people who move with the times as it is time for ecotourism.
Author of the text: Magdalena Petryna - editor and Beskid guide, promoter of local and conscious tourism, wildlife educator and blogger.
The Project entitled “Małopolska Ecotourism - sustainable tourism development of the region” is implemented by the Partnership Fund as part of the EcoMałopolska Programmw from the funds of the Małopolska Region.