January 2023 hiking retrospective

January 2023 was a strange month for hiking, in several aspects. An unusually warm day as well as overnight snowfall had seen me outdoors in a variety of weather conditions.

1.1. – Happy new year

The end of 2022 and the beginning of 2023 was unusually warm in Europe. Mid-December, we had intense snowfall (up to 25cm even in the lowlands) followed by a Christmas heatwave that melted most of it. By New Year, the heat was strong enough to cause melt most of the snow even in the hills, which had me reconsider my plans – a trip to the hills would’ve been muddy and miserable.

So, instead, I took the train just for four stops and took a walk through the suburbs back home, resulting in a relaxing 16km walk. The app I use to track my hikes was glitching after a month of disuse, so I don’t have it recorded, but I fixed that before the next hike by… restarting the phone.

The morning skies were of all interesting colors, but leaving my apartment pretty much with sunrise meant the sights were blocked by the surrounding buildings.

7.1. – A memory trip

The next weekend was the first hike of the hiking club, and a replica of a hike we did back in 2016. Unlike the 2016 hike (back then, the land was covered by a sprinkle of snow), it was still quite warm for early January.

Morning skies at the train station

This time, we avoided the mistake done in 2016 and had the lookout tower open for us. As visible below, the land was still quite green, and only a hint of snow was visible on the hills in the distance.

The tower itself is quite a landmark from the early 1900s.

The next stop was a ruin of quite a large castle, abandoned after the 30-years war in the 1600s. Several sections of the walls still stand.

After reaching the town, I made a short stop at the square dominated by town hall from the early 1900s.

And, with plenty of time still left, I walked around a bit more, mostly through the (somewhat muddy) hills behind the town, though I also stopped at the train station where an old steam locomotive is displayed.

14.1. – Cancelled due to wind

I was prepared to go out again. However, when I woke up… the sounds from the outside were scary. It seemed the wind warning wasn’t in vain. Knowing that winds in the hills are even harsher than in the lowlands, I decided to cancel the hike when it seemed that just walking to the train station would have me tossed around.

But I read half a book that day, at least.

21.1. – Pity the fool

As with the massive snowfall around 10th December, the night from Friday to Saturday was full of snow. Already having canceled a hike once, I decided to try it. Just the walk to the bus stop was proof it wouldn’t be easy. The snow was somewhere between 10 and 15 cm and still falling.

And while the snow stopped falling by the time I reached the hills, trudging through snow that reached above my boots – despite it being “only” dry powder – was quite tiring. I chose a trail that is way too easy and boring in summer and it had given me hell.

In the later part of the ascension, I could see a tiny waterfall – maybe 80cm “tall” – but at that point, I was already sweat-soaked from the tough walk and started to consider something I don’t like much – severely shortening the hike.

The old boots I used as a backup until I buy new ones (my previous had some stitches snap in September and I was given a full refund) were also scarping me, adding more discomfort. By the time I had walked mere 7km, I decided to take the shorten the hike as much as possible and took the shortest way down.

11,5km ended up being the second shortest solo hike I’ve done – and also proof that I can, sometimes, make the sane and logical decisions when hiking.

28.1. – Back to the suburbs

Over the week, most of the snow melted in the lowlands and, in the woods, it was reduced to a thin layer. That seems like a good way to see the new boots in action. The day was windy, but not as much as two weeks ago, so it was more than doable, aside from the lookout tower at the start, where the wind could show us its chilling power.

The hike was relatively relaxed and the remains of snow softened things up in the forest passages – the boots were a bit tight, but I knew that there was enough room if I loosened the laces in the front, so I wasn’t as worried.

There was one a bit tricky point – a place where the trail crosses a small stream. Well, typically, it’s small. But the snowmelt swelled it quite a fair bit. Crossing it offered two options: walk through, which carried the risk of walking in wet boots for two more hours, or using the two steel wires to cross it, which carried the risk of falling. I opted for the wire, and even though it was maybe 7 meters or so, it made my hands stiff for an hour to come. But at least I crossed with my feet dry.

From there on, the rest of the hike was uneventful.

Managing to go on a hike four of the five available weekends, more so in January, is quite a success, despite one hike being shortened and one canceled. Well, in fact, it was only pushed back to February, but that’s a story for another time.

I hope January treated you well and you avoided massive snowfalls, quick snowmelts, harsh winds, and any other tricks weather can play with us.

5 thoughts on “January 2023 hiking retrospective

  1. Yikes, that hike through the snow sounded crazy! Glad you made it back safe. We don’t get snow where we live; just a big hailstorm that quickly disappeared. A relative of mine who lives in a northern U.S state got a ton of snow though.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Love the photos, especially the tower and the castle ruins – I love me some good ruins.

    Snow hiking sounds way too intense for me. But then again, I always feel cold so that would have me nope-ing right out of there.

    Liked by 1 person

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