LESSON 2: The Tatra Mountains - reading comprehension and vocabulary exercise
THE TATRA MOUNTAINS
As you climb, your feet are getting heavier and heavier and the heat (or rain!) pouring down from the sky is making you tired and steals the last bits of your stamina and will power. The trail up the summit seems to have no end at all and the possibility of reaching the towering peak seems remote. Yet you keep going. Once on top, you forget about your aching muscles and the sunburned skin on your face. The wind is blowing; you take a deep breath and look around you: if the weather is nice, you can see the lower parts of the mountains covered with thick wood and dwarf mountain pine. It seems like you can smell the distinctive scent of resin. Other peaks loom through the mist, the air is fresh. It is very peaceful and quiet here, you feel well. Finally, you forget about everything and wish you would never have to descend.
They are surely higher and more beautiful mountain ranges in the world. For what can be compared with the breathtaking view of the Alps? And can you think of more mysterious mountains than the Himalayas? Yet the Tatra Mountains can really enchant you with their magical atmosphere. It seems almost everyone, both experienced climbers and ordinary tourists, can find something for themselves here. Once you come here, the Tatras will forever hold a special place in your heart.
Constituting a natural border between Poland and Slovakia, the Tatra Mountains are the highest mountain range in Poland. The peak of Rysy (2,499 m), on the Polish side of the range, is the highest Polish mountain. The highest mountain of the whole range, Gerlach, can be found on the Slovakian side. It rises to 2,655 m above the sea level. Each year numerous tourists visit the Tatras and their number is growing steadily.
It is difficult to explain what particularly constitutes the distinctive atmosphere of these mountains. The first thing that comes to my mind is the unique culture and customs (and even dialect) of the people who live in this area. The highlanders have always been independent people with strong beliefs and love of freedom. It is the mountains and the hardships that they have often had to endure which created their independent spirit. The Poles are very proud of the rich cultural heritage of this region. The second thing that makes this place magical is the possibility of being in contact with the unspoiled natural environment whose beauty reveals itself in almost everything you can see around you. The fast-running streams are so clean that you can even drink the sparkling water. When the spring comes, the valleys are covered with crocuses. The lakes and small ponds always bewitch me with their unusual sea-green colour which contrasts with the greyness of the surrounding slopes. But when I think more about it, it seems like it is the people who really contribute to the atmosphere of this place. The tourists who meet on a trail always greet themselves and, if they have more time, exchange a few words. Often they stay here for longer, spending the night in wooden mountain hostels situated in the valleys. That allows them to get up during the night to observe the starry sky...
- Stamina – the strength of body or mind to fight tiredness, discouragement, or illness
- Remote (adjective) – slight, very unlikely
- Resin – a thick sticky liquid that comes out of certain trees and later becomes a hard yellow substance
- To enchant – to fill with delight, charm
- To constitute – to form, to make up
- To endure – to bear (pain, suffering) patiently or for a long time
- Unspoiled – unchanged by the civilisation, pristine
- To bewitch – to charm as if by magic
- To contribute to something – to help in causing a situation, event
Try now to use the new words in different contexts. Fill in the gaps with the appropriate form of the words from the glossary. Not all the words have been used.
- When I twisted my wrist the pain was so strong that I couldn’t _____ it.
- Mark has been acting irrationally since he met that woman. She has completely _____ him!
- The runner didn’t have enough _____ and slowed down considerably after the first 200 metres.
- There is only a _____ chance that the United are going to win this season.
- Freedom of speech and respect for human rights _____ the basis of any democratic state.
- David didn’t like the place. The dark walls and dim light ____ even more to the gloomy atmosphere of the place.