Sebastian Bielak - Podróż po Alasce

Click CTRL – to diminish Click CTRL – to diminish Click CTRL + to enlarge Click CTRL + to enlarge
The Bieszczady Mountains with the highest peak Mount Tarnica visible in the background (photo by Sebastian R. Bielak)
The Bieszczady Mountains with the highest peak Mt. Tarnica visible in the background (photo S. Bielak)

The Bieszczady Mountains of Eastern Carpathians

The Bieszczady Mountains are located in south-eastern Poland. By many people they are recognized as the wildest part of this country and one of the most precious natural corners of Europe. As a part of Eastern Carpathians these mountains extend on the borderland of three countries: Poland, Slovakia and Ukraine. They are not very high mountains as the highest summit located on their Polish side is Mount Tarnica reaching 4416 feet a.s.l. (1346 m a.s.l.). Nevertheless, local wildlife is really wild and the environment is barely changed by men. Here occur the most numerous in Poland populations of brown bear, Eurasian lynx and grey wolf. In the borders of Polish side of the Bieszczady Mountains there is one national park, two landscape parks and over a dozen of wildlife preserves which encompass an area of over 270 000 acres (1100 km2). The dominant component of local landscapes are deciduous forests which are completely natural, however at the turn of nineteenth and twentieth century they were intensively exploited.

Great part of the Bieszczady Mountains is covered by the Carpathian Beech Forest (photo by Sebastian R. Bielak)
Great part of the Bieszczady Mountains is covered by the Carpathian Beech Forest (photo by S. Bielak)

Carpathian Beech Forest and montane meadows

Some fragments of local forests are so wild that they remind a primeval wilderness which covered the Bieszczady Mountains in the distant past. Big herds of red deers and roe deers hide among these woods as well as European bisons, gray wolves and European lynxes. The most common type of forest occurring in the Bieszczady Mountains is the Carpathian Beech Forest with the European beech and silver fir as primary tree species. Woods cover over 70% of the Bieszczady Mountains National Park but yet the most recognizable component of local landscapes are montane meadows. This type of meadow is very characteristic for the Eastern Carpathians and as a completely open space it extends from the upper tree line to the top of this mountain range. On Polish side the most popular are Carynska and Wetlinska Montane Meadows, however Bukowe Berdo and Bukowska Montane Meadow are equally picturesque. Montane meadows are covered with rare and valuable vegetation so it is quite a good idea to visit the Bieszczady Mountains at the turn of June and July, when most of plants are blooming with beautiful flowers.

Lake Solina is one of many tourist attractions in the Bieszczady Mountains (photo by Sebastian R. Bielak)
Lake Solina is one of many tourist attractions in the Bieszczady Mountains (photo by Sebastian Bielak)

Lake Solina and the Sylvan Narrow-Gauge Railway

In the 60s a huge dam was built in the valley of the upper San River, close to Solina village. Because the dam was 270 feet (82 m) high and 2170 feet (660 m) long it has become the biggest object of hydraulic engineering in Poland. By building this dam an artificial lake has been created with given name Lake Solina. Now, this lake covers an area of 8.5 square miles (22 km2) and has capacity exceeding 124 billion of gallons (470 million m3). It is one of many tourist attractions in the Bieszczady Mountains. Another interesting object in this region is the Sylvan Narrow-Gauge Railway. Its beginning had reached to the nineteenth century but most railway tracks were built in the first half of the twentieth century, when this railway was used for transporting wood cut in local forests. With the passage of time the narrow-gauge railway has lost its economic importance, especially after building roads when it has occurred that truck transport is faster and cheaper. Today, the Sylvan Narrow-Gauge Railway serves only tourists and two routes being used are only a small piece of the whole system of railway tracks covering once the Bieszczady Mountains.