Thursday, December 6, 2018

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 378

Dolina Chochołowska, Tatra Mountains, Poland

What a pleasant surprise to find this postcard in our mailbox.  A friend had taken a trip and went hiking in the Tatra Mountains located between Slovakia and Poland and sent the card.  The postcard has photographs of the area and the inns or shelters where hikers can stay by Ryszard Ziemak.  Our friend wrote that he stayed three nights in one of these shelters and used that as his base for some great hikes. 

These mountains are the highest range in the Carpathians and form a natural border between Poland and Slovakia.  The highest peak, Gerlach, is 8,710 feet or 2,655 meters high.  Both countries have established Tatra National Parks that are part of UNESCO’s World Network of Biosphere Reserves. 

Historically this range of mountains has been found named as early as 999 by Czech Duke Boleslaus II when he recalled the Duchy of Bohemia extended to them.  Henry IV referred to them in a document dated 1086.  Another mention of the name is made of them in 1125 in the Kosmas chronicles.  The name has been spelled a variety of different ways from Tritri/Tritry, Trtry, and Tartry and finally today as Tatra, a general term for stony land or rocks and river stones.

The mountains are described as similar to the Alps although not as high. The Tatras are easily accessible and a favorite place for tourists, hikers, winter sports, and resorts.  There have been many disputes along the borders and hikers faced difficulties because it was illegal to cross borders without going through an official border checkpoint.  In 1999, 80 years after the dissolution of the Austrian Empire, the governments of Poland and Slovakia signed an agreement that provided designated unstaffed border crossings.  In 2007 the situation was further improved when both countries finally approved crossings at any point.  There are still rules for the national parks of both countries and hiking trails have seasonal closures to protect the wildlife.  

The card came with this beautiful lily stamp issued in July of 2016 with a design by Marzanna Dąabrowska.

Thank you, M, for the wonderful card and the opportunity to learn more about this area.

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