Nature as Therapy: Foraging for Rose Hips
September afternoons in Liptov are ideal for short hikes in nature. The end of September, when the weather is no longer too hot but not too cold yet, is a good time to think about which gifts of nature we can use to support our health. As the evenings are already quite chilly, our choice of beverage is often tea. Herbal tea is the most popular beverage in autumn and winter seasons, and so instead of relying only on getting our tea from the supermarket, it might be a good idea to prepare our own supply of some herbs that we can forage ourselves.
How about combining a hike, relaxation, exploration, a good deed, good health and tea into one? In the next paragraphs, you can read about how we managed to combine all the above, and perhaps you will feel inspired to try the same.
We are going to Liptovské Sliače, where we will take a short hike and pick some fruits and berries provided by the local nature, because on my walks in these areas, I noticed an abundance of bushes with the red fruits which are probably well-known by everyone.
Rose hip tea is a beverage which strengthens the immune system and helps with minor ailments, such as cold or rhinitis. It is suitable for long-term consumption without any side effects, while strengthening the immune system and supplying vitamins as well.
Rose hips should be picked only after the first frosts, in areas at a sufficient distance from dwellings and traffic, so that they are not polluted. That is why we chose this location, which, in addition to these red berries, offers many other things as well.
To get to Liptovské Sliače, we can easily ride one of the suburban buses from Ružomberok. From Ružomberok, we need to get to bus stop “Lipt.Sliače,Vyšný Sliač,garáž“, to which the bus should take us in about 20 minutes. From the bus stop, we follow the blue-marked hiking trail up the “Hrbky” street, past guest house Prameň. After walking to the top of the hill, we get views of the surroundings. The road leads us downhill past the National Nature Reserve of Sliač Travertines, where we take a short break before picking the rose hips. The reserve is interesting in various ways, but what is interesting to us is mineral spring Teplica, or Čertovica, as called by the locals, which is situated here. The water rich in sulphur (water with egg-like smell) has beneficial effects on the digestion system and it is recommended before meals, as usually indicated with the mineral waters of similar composition. We draw some mineral water and continue further on the blue-marked trail. The trail leads us closer to the woods, where the fields and meadows are surrounded by balks with trees and bushes, on which we can see the red berries gleaming from a distance. In addition to the rose hips found in this area, we can also pick a few hawthorn berries and eat the flesh, which does not have a distinct taste, but contains a lot of vitamin C and other beneficial substances. It is best to take your time when picking the rose hips, as they often “resist” being picked and they like to prick or scratch us, if we are not careful.
Picking rose hips also has a beneficial stress-relief effect. When focused on picking rose hips, the adults become relaxed and they stop thinking about their everyday problems or worries, thus releasing the accumulated stress. Picking rose hips is also a good therapy for kids, improving their attention, focus and movement coordination.
In my younger years, I learned that when picking rose hips you should not be doing anything else, and if you pay sufficient attention, you will be able to pick them without getting pricked.
After having picked enough rose hips, we return to the spring, where we can sit a while, draw some more mineral water, and most importantly look at the travertine crater created by the water in this area, which is one of its kind in the entire Slovakia.
In the vicinity of this area, we also recommend taking a walk to a ridge situated eastwards, to a chapel, from which you get a view of the West Tatras. Or in the opposite direction (to the west), to a cross, which is a part of a way of the cross.
To store the collected rose hips, we only use paper bags or fabric bags, never plastic bags.
An adult is able to fill one sandwich-size paper bag with rose hips in about thirty minutes, so the hike does not need to take more than one to one and a half hours.
And to thank the nature for letting us take its fruits, we remember to bring a used bag with us. We will use the bag for any trash that we find along the way and gladly pick up and take with us, to leave the nature behind us clean.
We leave it up to you to decide what to do with your rose hips, how you want to process them and use them. In the meantime, we will be planning another trip, which might inspire you next week.
The text was prepared by Milan Kolčák and Ján Benčík from the Ružomberok Information Centre.
This is the first article of the article series with subtitle “Nature as Therapy”.