I’ve held off writing the usual monthly hiking retrospective for several reasons. One of them being that I haven’t passed this self-imposed test nowhere nearly as well as I’d like to. The second being that the rainy July didn’t help my mood to sort through photos.
Preparation and journey
Now, I’ve been loosely planning this since mid-February: joining my then-new job, I already had to schedule my main holiday. Before everything went to hell with COVID, I came to the conclusion that the last two weeks of June should be ideal – kids still in school but weather already decent.
I’ve considered two or three places, and the winner was determined by two aspects: finding a place where I could find a room for myself alone at a decent price, and being able to make that journey via train from at least 90%, preferably with 2-3 changes at most (not counting the trip to the train station).
The eventual winner was the small town Volary in south-west Czech Republic near both German and Austrian border – the hotel was ~100m from the train station, which was perfect for my forays into the nearby hills – and I’ve found enough ideas for more than just a week. The price was also decent, around ~70€ for travel (both ways) and ~20€/night+breakfast. Even with on-site travels and food, staying below 300€ total was definitely possible.
Then COVID happened and time passed, but the restrictions were minimalized by late May so my plan was still a go. I quickly made the reservation (which I was holding off as I’ve only finalized the destination after COVID hit) for both the hotel and the train journey.
So, on 20th, I got up around 2:30, got a lift to the bus stop by my father (saved me getting up way sooner as night schedules suck where I live), and started my journey. The weather was quite damp for a good deal of May and June, and this day wasn’t much better – very light but endless rain that stuck with me for a good deal of the journey. It only ended around 14:00, after my last transfer (see map below).
By the time I reached the hotel, the weather wasn’t that bad – overcast but the rain was over. So I unloaded the most basic stuff, and went for a ‘prologue hike’ – ~7km walk across the nearby peat bog.
That was, without doubt, the latest I’ve ever started a hike – at 17:00. To avoid having to do a full 14km circuit this late, I took the train again, for exactly one stop, just near the start of the bog trail.
That place is wet by its own and after two months of rain showers (bless them for reducing the drought experienced over the last 10 years but a pain for planning a hiking holiday), more so.
The advantage of starting this late, and after a rainy day, was that the trail was almost empty.
I took a few photos, both low-angle and standing, as well as a photo from the small (~5m) lookout tower in the middle of the bog.
Leaving the bog led me to the river, and to one of the bunkers made before WW2 as border defenses…
… after which I was about to take a turn back to the town, across fields still covered by blooming flowers, which became my frequent companion in the next days.
At the crossing where I took the turn back to the town, I passed a pair with a stroller heading the opposite direction. All I’ve heard from them was something like ‘he filled his diaper AGAIN’. Honestly, if I was to push a stroller through a narrow, muddy trail across a bog, I’d probably shit my pants as well.
Note to self: if I ever have children, I’ll get that child-carrying backpack extension. Anyway, that was pretty much it for the prologue.
Day two: Military zone
Among the hikes I had planned, this was the only one where the date was non-negotiable. The peak I wanted to visit is on the outskirts of military are and thus a restricted area. People can visit it during weekends, and must remain on the allowed trails or roads.
Worse, the start point is pretty much in the middle of nowhere, and the bus passing the place only operates on workdays – so I dished out 12€ for a taxi on a distance that’d be less than 1€ bus ride, and went for it.
Oh, by the way, the weather was back to light rain.
Starting the hike, I thought about the soldiers who train there the other five days in the week. I thought I’d be the only foolish civilian to stubbornly march there during rain.
For a long time, the trail was actually a road used for maintenance and lumber harvest. That changed only below the main peak. Before that, I came across this beauty, which I’ve seen more times the next days.
Unfortunately, the persistent rain started to soak my boots – and as the road turned worse, it didn’t get better for me.
So I remained on the top only for a while, to take a photo of the rock formation on the top.
Then, I finished the loop and headed out of the restricted zone, across pastures and fields that had me completely soaked, to eventually lead to a major road and the train station.
The last two pictures I took were just near it, on a bridge across the upper end of a major reservoir.
And the ‘beach’ that had a single visitor after the rainy day (the rain came to a stop ~30 minutes before).
And with a train journey back to the hotel, the second day ended. With the promise of a better weather, so my plan was to take the two longest hikes in the next two days – but that’ll be the content of another post.
So, this is the first part of this look back. The second part is coming soon, probably in a week. In the meantime, feel free to comment or ask questions.