After three weeks of idling, I finally got to the hills again. At first, it did not look well. It was raining three or four days before. The rain was not strong, but it was persistent and I know that for some, it’s enough to be a hit on their mood. If I went alone, I would not give it a second thought but this time, I was to bring a loose group of almost fifty people somewhere after four days of rain with a not-so-small chance for more of it that day.
Now, I’ve led five or six events of the hiking club I am part of, some unofficially (as I gained some official training only last year). All of them were in June on September, in days of stable and very good weather. There’s a reason some of us are considered lucky weather charms. The good part is that the rain of past days is good if you are to visit a place with waterfalls, even if small ones.
Every time I go to this place, my memory goes to November 2004 when the harsh winds deforested a great deal of Slovakian Tatra mountains. The same wind hit this very place (despite being 200km apart). The trail was closed for almost two years because of fallen trees and damaged equipment (mostly bridges). When reopened, the place changed – sometimes the trail was rerouted or no longer in a forest…
Being in a natural reserve, the fallen trees were removed only in the least necessary amount and most left to the nature to take care of which gave the place even wilder look but also makes it harder to take photos, because they are often in the way.
This place is well-known to me, which means I don’t take many pictures as I have a lot of them already in my archives. Still, there’s one that I can show for comparison, from the dry summer back in 2015:
And from the recent days with slightly more water:
The main part is only a bit over one kilometer long and the highest waterfall has around 8 meters, but the place has its charm in the sequences of smaller cascades in a tightly closed valley.
After leaving the valley and emerging higher, we took the well-known road to Praděd (literally translated as ‘Greatfather’, the highest peak of the area (and fifth highest peak in the Czech Republic).
It’s usually quite tedious, you can (at a fee) drive to elevation around 1300m ASL and the rest is just a walk on a wide asphalt road used by hikers, cyclists, supplies to the chalets and the transmitter tower and hotel on the top as well as SAR vehicles.
I guess now’s the time to talk about Murphy’s law again. As I said, the forecast was not good. Around 9°C, overcast, high chance of light rain. So I left sunglasses at home, packed gloves (in case of cold wind) and only 2 liters of drink (for a summer hike, my norm is 4 liters at least, 5 at least if it’s over 30°C). It worked perfectly, to the point I changed to shorts while at the peak – despite the temperature being supposedly barely 12°C and my norm for shorts being at 17°C. It felt much warmer…
After a break at the peak, we moved to the next point, a chalet some three kilometers away from there, which was where I was to decide on the next course. Our destination was just 6km from there if we went the shortest route and we had plenty of time to spare.
In the end, eight people decided to follow my personal adjustment of the hike, leading to one more waterfall and adding maybe 5 extra kilometers compared to the base version. My original plan was even a bit longer but I decided to go with this compromise. I was only passing on a bit of length, not on sights.
After walking the pleasant trail, we started descending. There was some drawback that we’d need to descend to the falls and go back up most of it but it was well worth it in the end.
There was this teaser at first, a chain of cascades below the second rock formation. It took us a few more steps to reach the main waterfall.
It took pretty much no time to agree that this detour was well worth it. After climbing back to the crossing above the falls, we followed a forest road used mostly by cyclists (or cross-country skiers during winter) that went below the main ridge. We were to leave this road after some time, in a place that I studied beforehand in a map, easily identified by an overgrown rock formation in S-shaped double turn.
Since no one else knew, it led to a few “are we there yet?” moments, which usually led to a short “no” accompanied by waving my GPS receiver and continuing onward without slowing. Two had enough of the road sooner than that and decided to improvise their own way and fortunately, they did not get lost – as formal leader of this trip, it would be my responsibility…
Anyway, the six that remained with me found a surprise no one could expect – a small group of friends rent a chalet in the woods for the weekend and were even willing to share some beer.
The rest of the journey was uneventful, as was the return bus drive. What I expected to be a gloomy walk under a grey shroud turned out to be pleasant relaxation in the mountain sunlight.
It seems my luck has yet to run out. I am to lead one more trip at the summer’s end, to a place that’s known by abrupt weather shifts, so I hope it’ll hold at least in that case.