Zuzanna Bednarska

 1st place in „My Smile Camp” contest

My Smile Camp

Out of many wonderful days I spent in Wisła I particularly well remember 1st March because the day was unique. 
Everybody got up earlier to get ready. My roommates got dressed and were making their beds clumsily, their hands were shaking as they were excited with the perspective of a long trip. Agnieszka, my good friend, was also afraid we might be late. After eating delicious breakfast and taking medicines, we all went back to our rooms to finish packing the rucksacks, which most of us had started the evening before. The shoelaces of our mountain boots were getting under the feet of others as we were trying to do them up hurriedly while our thick winter jackets were piling up on a big window sill. Finally, wrapped up in a few layers of clothes everyone got on the coach. 
I got cross with many of my friends who were using their mobile phones all the way. If they keep texting instead of talking to each other face to face, they won’t be able to get a single word out in the end. I looked at the faces lit up with the blue light of the mobile phone screens in disbelief. Agnieszka and I decided to stand out from the crowd and stared delighted at the world behind the window. 
It was quite early and the first orange and gold rays of the Sun were getting through the needles of the trees while the snowflakes were flickering having finally been lit with a bit of daylight. All this, together with the traditional wooden houses in the background created a charming atmosphere that you can only experience when you are in the snow-covered mountains. We were excited by every sharp turning on the mountain road which made us rock from side to side.
 But the best was still to come. When we got to our destination, we split up into small groups of six people each that one after another got in yellow and black cabins of a gondola lift which was to take us to the top of Szyndzielnia. It wasn’t very exciting at first – the cabins were just above the ground. However, as we were getting higher above the ground I started to feel butterflies in my stomach. After we got to the top, we went along a short but quite steep path and reached an old mountain shelter. The building was made of stone outside but inside it was covered with wood. 
The interior decorations, such as drawings on big boards in the cantina showing the highlanders’ life years ago, created the atmosphere of this place. We refreshed ourselves in the cantina, rested up and set off to climb the mountain of Klimczok neighbouring Szyndzielnia. As we were hiking along the trail, we discovered the beauty of the mountains in winter. The trees were covered with snow. High snowdrifts appeared on the ground. Some students ended up falling in them after they slipped over on the ice that covered the path here and there or stumbled on one of the rocks jutting out of the snow. 
Every now and then you could hear somebody gasp in amazement or say: “This place looks like from a fairy tale!”. Some of us got tired pretty quickly, others heard the call of adventure that gave them strength so they waded through the snow though they also slowly started to lose enthusiasm. I found reserves of energy in me but I didn’t run with others. I didn’t want to leave my friend behind in the crowd of stragglers. I trotted around her and motivated her to move her legs. As it turned out – it was worth it! 
On top of the mountain we could watch the landscape from a brand new perspective. Standing so high with snow in our boots and on our faces we drank water that had already got cold. Our teachers and carers from ING approached us to check how we felt and whether we enjoyed being so high. 
Many people came up to the board reading “Klimczok – 1117 metres above sea level” and took pictures to prove their parents they managed to climb so high. There was another hill in front of the place we were standing but from the signposts I figured out we couldn’t get there taking this path. 
Looking at the surprisingly cloudless sky I noticed that at some point its blue colour turns grey. I was almost certain that it was smog and it made me feel very sad. I thought that because of this grey stain I would not be able to come back here in the future. I didn’t think of it much though because we all had to stop our activities and set off on our journey home. Rolling around and running downhill were much faster than going uphill so we got to the gondola lift station in a flash. 
Looking back at the drifting away view of the fabulous mountains and puffy snow I already began to miss this place. I wish I could go back there again soon.