I arrived at base on Thursday afternoon. It was a long drive of more than 1,000 km from where I started two days ago, with heavy snowfall most of the way through Austria and wintery driving conditions in Slovakia too.
In Bratislava, I met up with Tomas, the expedition scientist. It was a brief encounter at a service station on the way to discuss preparations, logistics and permissions for the expedition vehicles in the Veľká Fatra National Park. The forestry department staff there have told Tomas that quite a few bears are active instead of hibernating, some even having young ones. Maybe we will be lucky!
By the way, the Veľká Fatra National Park National Park has a fairly active Facebook page (www.facebook.com/Národný-park-Veľká-Fatra-168367143242479) with some good pictures and videos of their trapping efforts, showing lynx, bears and wolves, amongst other species.
At base in Švošov I was warmly welcomed by František Pompáš, our host and owner of the house we will call home for the next couple of weeks. The welcoming drink offered was Tatra tea – a very special homemade refined vodka with honey, wild flowers and some other unfamiliar spicy stuff. Beware the Tatra tea!
After tea, I spent most of the rest of Thursday unpacking boxes, writing shopping lists and going through paperwork.
It’s been thawing here, but there is still now on the mountains. The forecast (www.wunderground.com/sk/ruzomberok) is for more thaw and rain for a few days, followed by a drop in temperatures and snow.