Today’s post will cover my end-of-September hiking weekend. This was a return (not the first) to a place I’ve visited a couple of times but I still had a few places left to see.
Those of you who read my hiking post regularly may remember that the long-time driver working for our hiking club had suffered a heart attack during our August holiday. And while he’s already back home and even got his license back (though he undergoes more frequent check-ups), it wouldn’t be safe enough for him to go on another such a long journey. Thus, we’ve been left without a driver. His son, who had taken over their business two years ago, managed to find us a back-up driver less than a week before the journey. So that was one crisis averted.
Another potential trouble-maker was the weather. Many people in the hiking club still remember the journey to this are back in 2010 – back then, two of the four days were rainy and the remaining two overcast. This time, the forecast was mixed anc changing every day, so I decided to ignore it altogether. Which is a risky move, considering that I was leading this journey and one of the most-frequent question is about weather – maybe even more than the actual trails.
I had one advantage, though – I’ve done a thorough preparation. I visited most of those trails since 2019 (more about this in this post from 2019 and this from 2020) so I could describe them pretty much from memory with minimal notes.
The result, weather-wise, was mixed. It was often cloudy, though the sun poked through the clouds sometimes – but no rain for the first three days.
The first day was a trip to a place I visited during the 2019 and 2020 hikes, so I haven’t taken many photos. The extra place was a smaller rock formation aside of the main reserve, from which the above-depicted photo was taken, facing the north-east part of the nature reserve. A direct line of sight was blocked by rocks and trees alike, unfortunately, as that’d be a different view than most people see.
The second day had me wake up into a dense mist, though it wasn’t as dense by the time I finished my breakfast and dispersed by the time we reached the beginning of the trail. The rocky terrain was still wet and thus slick, and the narrow trail weaving between those rocky spires was quite cold. Once the day got slightly warmer, it was quite enjoyable. This was probably the best weather, with most of the day being a shiny example of early autumn.
As before, I had taken only a couple of photos, due to major overlaps with previous hikes. I had hoped that the birches and other deciduous trees will be leaning towards yellow already, but it that wasn’t the case, and thus there was no mosaic of colors for me to photograph. Maybe I’ll return there in a couple of years around 20th October…
I extended the second day’s hike a bit towards one a bit off-the-way rock formation.
The third day was similar to the second, when it comes to the morning weather. It was also a bit more favorable when it comes to the colors, at least at the lake – which is, in fact, flooded sandstone quarry.
The weather made for a couple of nice pictures with the waters providing almost perfect reflections.
Then, I started the first loop around the sandstone spires. The first trails in the area date back to the early 1800s – supposedly after a forest fire lasting for weeks cleared a major part of the woods and thus made it easier to navigate. A gothic-style gates between the rocks date to those times.
With the favorable weather, I hoped to make more pictures than 11 years ago, though that hope received a major hit early on – my camera gave me the dreaded “low battery” warning early in the day. I guess the age is beginning to show, as it lasted easily for 5 days a couple of years ago…
…anyway, I knew that the best places are here, and if I drained it now, no big issue.
If you’re someone for nubmers – the tallest spires are almost 100m from their foot. Climbers were drawn to them for quite some time and, unfortunately, some attempts to climb them were fatal.
I also had a slight advantage of going in among the first, shortly after 9:15 – the main rush of visitors was between 10:00 and 12:00. By that time, I was leaving the loop and heading towards the valley connecting this portion of the reserve with the other…
Which leads though a vibrant wetland in the middle part.
In the other section, I took only a couple of photos, because I had a fair share of them from the previous years. Instead, I headed across to the hind section and took a loop around the whole mountain, to end up on a ruin of a fort that gave me a slightly different view on the area I visited in the morning.
The fourth day had only a short hike planned – to leave the other half of the day for our journey home. However, we woke up to a light rain and, by the time we loaded our stuff into the bus, it was still a light drizzle. Not so few people were questioning whether it’s worth stopping at the final rock fomrations – not really a surprise as many had seen that one 11 years ago. This reminded me why I’m not fond of leading anything. I decided for a compromise – cutting the time from 3,5 hours to 1,5 so the poeple who wanted to have a look (the fastes of us, unsurprisingly) had a chance to do so.
When we reached the place, we saw that the nasty bark beetles had already eaten quite a part of the woods – I remember the main labyrinth being in a forest just two years ago and now I came to this…
Some people just took a relaxing walk around the lower part while a small group of us blitzed the whole trail. And because Murphy’s laws never fail, the moment we left the place, the weather cleared up. Fortunately, most of the people were too tired to complain. I admit that even I, after guiding the driver towards the highway, fell asleep quite fast.
So, that’s a look back at my end-of-September journey. I hope the early autumn has seen you well, and to see you soon.