February 2023 hiking retrospective

Just as January, February was quite a strange month this year. At least for hiking. I’ve ended up with mixed feelings – while I managed three hikes, they were all quite short.

I skipped the very first weekend because of weather, and thus, if I had to keep my goal of missing one weekend at most, I knew I’d be at weather’s mercy for fulfilling that goal.

11.2. – Third time’s the charm

The first hike of the month was one I planned already twice this winter, and twice canceled it because the weather was bad. This time, I went on – the forecast was just cloudy with low chance of snow showers, which was more than doable.

The early ascension was tricky – mostly following an uphill road that was covered by ice, which is never pleasant. This way, I’ve covered most of the first ascension. The plateau above the valley had me exposed to the wind, which was gentle most of the time, but the gusts were sometimes packing a cold punch.

By the time I reached the first peak, holes formed in the cloud cover, and the sun managed to peek through. Which made for an interesting scenery by the old cottage.

Up until there, the way was on an access road which was – as visible on the photo – plowed. From there on, that was no longer the case. Drifts of snow that had quite a varying thickness tested me – but I found my “snow legs” relatively easily. After the initial dip, the trail was mostly a light ascension towards the second peak.

However, by the time I reached the second peak, the gaps in the clouds began to close.

Thus, I didn’t stay long and started my descent. The trail wasn’t used for a while – which made me glad that I came equipped for such conditions. Once I left the upper part, where the snow still held, my pace increased a bit as the lower woods had snow barely ankle-deep. By noon, I reached the train station and set up what seemed to be the theme for February: half-day hikes.

18.2. – towards the spring

The next hike had me heading towards the spring of Odra, one of the main rivers of Czech Republic and Poland. The spring is tricky to reach as it lies at the outskirts of restricted military area and is open only on weekends – but since there’s nothing but a small village and barracks at the edge of the area, there are no public buses operating on weekends. Thus, I suggested it as a potential target to the hiking club, and this year, it came to pass.

The road from the village to the spring was icy from the snow that melted during the day and froze during the night. While one would guess that the woods were decimated by the training soldiers, the cause was, in fact, bark beetle infestation. The whole place had an ominous atmosphere with the fog and the distant blasts of heavy weapons.

The spring itself is in a small shelter visible above. After a short stop there, we had to walk the same way out of the military area, then continue on our way. We were supposed to end the hike at a motel by the old road, but due to disagreements between the owner and the village’s mayor, the owner decided to close down the restaurant, so we had to improvise a bit and re-route to a different town nearby, which had me describe the way to the 50-ish people and, as that meant leaving the marked trail, leave improvised direction arrows made from fallen tree branches. Fortunately, we all made it there. I made a short extra loop to a pond behind the town, despite the chilly weather.

As with the first one, this was pretty much a half-day hike as well, with a walking time of around 4 hours…

26.2. – memories

…as was the last hike of the month. This time, I decided to take it on Sunday as Saturday’s weather was a bit worse. The ascension was done taking a trail my parents took me and my sister back in 1997 and 1998 but I haven’t walked it since. I admit I didn’t really recognize it – the parts that were a bit more clear were now inside the woods, and the upper portions were the exact opposite: the chapel in the photo below was, in the late 1990s, in the forest.

Most of the ascension was done in a light snow, which stopped by the time I reached the chapel. From there, I continued towards the peak. Through the woods at first – I was vary of my steps as I knew from the summer of last year this part is quite damp. The last thing I wanted was to fall through snow into mud.

The peak, called “Velký Polom” could be loosely translated as “Big broken wood” – and the windstorms in the last years had made the name way too true.

However, this day, the clouds also began to break, and I had a while of sunlight brighten up the scenery.

Only to be replaced by a snow shower a while later, and then for the clouds to part again. The descent trail, likewise damaged by the winds in the last years, was quite muddy given the recent melts, and the fresh snow made it tricky. Fortunately, I managed it without any accidents, and thus, another half-day hike was finished.

So, that’s a quick retrospective of my February hikes. I hope that March weather will be more favorable and let me go on full-day hikes. Given that it doesn’t seem to give many chances for snowy weather, I hope it’ll bring me some flowers to take photos of, at least.

For now, I hope February treated you well. See you next time.

3 thoughts on “February 2023 hiking retrospective

  1. So, I’m beginning to understand more and more why a lot of fantasy writers have based their stories off of places in Europe (seriously, a mysterious, eerie woods with fog and a trail that leads to a spring that has a really cool sounding name? It seems like the start to some epic quest story lol.)

    Anyway, I really enjoyed the pictures, Thomas! Thank you for sharing (glad everyone made it safely to the next town too.)

    Liked by 1 person

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