Nature as Therapy: Through Snow-covered Uhlisko
As the end of winter is approaching, we are bringing you this year’s first trip into the surroundings of Ružomberok. We have thought for a long time about where to go in winter to make it not too difficult, and more importantly, to choose an interesting route or destination. Because of our work, we are often in Vlkolínec. Whenever possible, we use a different route to get there. One of these routes is a trail through the valley of Uhlisko, which has always been used especially by the inhabitants of Vlkolínec. For most visitors, the trail is still too undiscovered, which is why we are going to tell you something about it.
Our route begins in Ružomberok’s district Biely Potok, at bus stop “Do Uhliska“, to which we can get by a bus of the public transport system of Ružomberok, but some of the suburban buses stop here as well. From the bus stop, near which there is an educational panel of educational trail “Vtáčia Cesta” (Bird Path), which has not been finished yet, we follow the trail running through the filed in the direction to the Revúca river. On the right of the trail, we may notice a small log building: “stall”, which serves for storage of hay. We use the iron footbridge to cross the river. We continue to the road, on which we turn to the right, and after a few dozen metres, we turn away from the road, to the left, up a small bank. Serving us as a reference point is the second educational panel of trail “Vtáčia Cesta” (Bird Path), which we may read, if we want to. From the panel, we continue on the road to the left in the direction to the meadows, but immediately after that, we turn to the right by the creek. The creek will lead us to a bridge, where we will see a plate which reads “Vlkolínec”. We continue along the creek towards a metal bridge, which we use to get to the other side. On the other side of the bridge, we continue mildly uphill, up the valley. At this place, there will be no more turns from the trail and we simply need to continue on the trail all the way to the area below Vlkolínec. The valley with meadow landscape, which is gradually being covered with growth, is surrounded with steep slopes covered mostly with hazels and other self-seeded wood plants. In the valley, we can see trees of different types, shapes, sizes and ages. At the beginning of the valley, we are greeted by the sound of the bubbling creek, which fades away after a while and it is replaced with silence. On our way up the valley, we will see an old stall covered with tarpaulin. The log building is in a poor condition and if it was not covered, it would have probably collapsed by now. A bit farther uphill, we enter a meadow, where we see a wooden well and more stalls situated above the well, in different stages of their life. From the meadow, we get a very limited view of Sidorovo and the ridge of Brankov, with Brankov itself, and later Ostré as well. Passing by the buildings, the trail will lead us all the way to the meadows below Vlkolínec. We walk through the meadows, on which we may notice balks, framing former fields situated to our right. We come to a fence, which we get around from the left, and we come to a road running along the south periphery of Vlkolínec.
In the valley of Uhlisko, we can admire how nature gradually takes over the places which used to be cultivated by men for a long period of time. The absence of cultivation has led to growth appearing on the slopes in the valley, and to deterioration of the buildings situated here. As one of our goals on these trips is to build awareness about environmental issues in accordance with the idea of #ObjavUdržateľnéSlovensko(DiscoverSustainableSlovakia), we would like to point out that the buildings of our ancestors were not only functional, but they also met strict environmental criteria and they were 100% recyclable. Only such materials were used in construction which were natural and found directly in the area. At first, it was only wood with minimum use of iron, and later on, the wood was replaced as covering material by sheet metal, which, similarly to wood, was also fully recycled by gradual decay. Wood was treated only by smoke, or not at all, and its decomposition did not cause any damage to the environment. Iron without added agents is an element normally found in soil everywhere around us, which is why it also does not significantly pollute the soil when used in reasonable quantities. Various stages of life of buildings can therefore show us how nature copes with buildings built with traditional methods and techniques. Just give it a little time.
Winter is the most beautiful season in Vlkolínec, the nature is resting and the time in Vlkolínec has stopped. You will not find crowds of tourists here, as the village is almost isolated from the world. Snow covers all the imperfections and it paints everything white. In the surroundings, we can watch woodland animals, such as does and deer, which have left plenty of footprints with their little feet. And if we get cold in Vlkolínec, we can warm up in the buildings with exhibitions, which are here too. The current opening hours can be found at www.vlkolinec.sk.
For the way back, you can use any trail or path, but we recommend returning along the same route, because you may notice some things you missed on your way here. And where are we going next time? Well, wait to be surprised by what we will prepare for you.
The text was prepared by Milan Kolčák and Ján Benčík from the Ružomberok Information Centre.
This is the sixteenth article of the article series with subtitle Nature as Therapy.