Saturday, July 28, 2012

A Little Trip to Kampinoski

To the north of Warsaw lies Kampinoski National Forest, a national park that spans to the west of the Vistula.  For comparison, it's about the size of the Petrified Forest in California, or almost exactly twice the size of Acadia National Park in Maine.  One can easily drive or bike there, and there are city buses that go pretty much into the heart of it.  It's a touch of nature a few miles from the outskirts of Warsaw, and offers a little more wilderness than Mlociny or Kabaty.
One of the red signs announcing an entrance to the park.

A map of the park.  No horn blowing.
A colleague and I decided to make the day of it biking up to the forest.  We started out from Metro Mlociny and biked along the winding rural roads until we reached an entrance to the park.  It started raining just as we reached the cover of the trees, (hauling ass down a bumpy dirt road to beat the shower), but the rain and storms passed so we could enjoy a sunny picnic.
Taking shelter from the rain, and having a beer.
Our first stop (besides MarcPol to get some food and drink) was a small, dirty lean-to.  As we cracked open some luke-warm ones, some wasps decided to pay us a visit (it maybe a mostly Catholic country, but there are a lot of Brits coming here in the summer, and they can be quite pesky.)  OK, stupid joke.
Yeah, but seriously, we had to kill a bunch of those buzzing bastards.  Not so many mosquitos though.

The thing about Masovia is that its mostly sand.  Really, like beach sand.  This is not Ukraine with its rich, dark loam that makes it a suitable bread basket.  Kampinos is a mixture of swamps and sand-filled forests.  I don't know how plants grow in such poor soil, but pines and birch are everywhere to be found.  There are even some very pretty meadows (one of which offered extremely soft grass for us to park on while we had our picnic.)  The trails are beaten sand that can be hazardous for bikes.  There were plenty of times we had to stop and simply walk our bikes because the sand was too soft and unsuitable for bikes.

A sandy path through the forest.

A small meadow with soft grass to lie in.

Same as above, but with a hot cuppa' on the seat of me bike.

Time restricted us, and we could only spend a few hours in the park before turning back.  A good portion was spent drinking and eating and talking, but we did try to doodle around on bikes on the sandy hills and paths.

A sign at the beginning of a trail at the bus stop.  It reads: Return (or Turn Around)  On the nearest trail, you will find that the terrain is not intended for tourists.
On the way back, we committed a rookie mistake of riding too closely to one another side-by-side.  We got tangled up, and I basically almost ran over my friend's face after he had fallen to the ground.  He was bruised a little, and his hand hurt, but no scrapes or gashes.  Later, it came out that he had broken his wrist.  Lesson learned on that one.  Luckily we were on a tiny side road with zero traffic.  Had we been on a larger road, both of us would have been smashed to pieces by some speeding car, roaring down the road.

Overall, it was a smashing trip.  Next time, I'll go earlier in the morning and explore deeper into the park.

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