March 2023 Hiking retrospective pt.1

Today, I’ll be looking back at the first two March hikes, with the other two getting their own post later.

4.3. – Just a couple of detours

The first weekend of March was gloomy. Damp, with mist in the hills, barely any sunlight, and a chilly morning. When I got off the bus, I had 8 hours. A bit too generous timeframe given that the longest suggested trail had ca. 17km. So I looked at the map: plenty of places to see nearby, most of them requiring short detours from the suggested route.

So, while everyone in the hiking club headed north, I went east, taking the first detour right away. I set out at a brisk pace that kept me warm in the morning’s chill, and after a while, reached the first noteworthy location – a small group of rock formations rising from the ground, exposed by damaged forests (yeah, common theme, but the bark beetles gave our woods a hell almost everywhere).

From this place, I turned west and caught up with some of my fellow hikers – making them ask themselves from where did I appear, not for the last time that day. For a while, I stuck to the default path, and spent a short while talking with some people I haven’t seen in a while, but the chill wind and moist aird had me pick up my pace to stay warm, thus leaving me alone. The highest point of the hike was the gloomiest.

From there, I descended and made a loop towards another nearby hill where I hoped to see something, but instead of rock formations, I found only a handful of large boulders that, while looking nice, weren’t exactly photo-worthy. So, I backtracked to the last trail crossing and headed towards the next interesting place. By that time, I still had four hours to go… so I kept checking the map for other places to see along the way. After some 40 minutes, I reached a small rock wall with moss and some other plant growing on the central chunk of stone.

Just a short distance away were some more formations.

However, many sections weren’t really well visible from my side of approach as the hillside leaned down away from me with no visible path. And many of those formations were in the woods. So, I walked around for a while, struggling to find any place that would be decent for a photo, before moving on.

I moved on to the next formation, a short distance away. The metal plate lying there named the place “Bull’s rock” while the wooden one commemorated a deceased climber, loosely quoting “who didn’t know nature, didn’t know life”.

From there, I turned towards my final destination, with still almost three hours to go. I headed towards another peak, where the trail just vanished in the woods, but there was no rock formation, only old woods left to nature itself. Getting back to the main trail, I resumed walking towards the final destination. After a brisk walk through the valley, I ascended towards a castle ruin. Nearing six hours on the go, I was becoming a bit stiff, but when did that truly stop me? I was treated for my efforts before I even reached the ruin.

Walking around the ruined castle was more relaxing. By that time, I caught up with some of the last group of my fellow club members, who had the advantage of taking a shorter route.

As usual, I took a couple of photos at the courtyards…

…as well as from the outer side as I walked a footpath around the former castle.

Finishing a loop around the ruin, I started my descent towards the town below, which was done using the approach road to the ruin. Mid-way through, I got a text from my mother (who used the 12km long trail) about where they were waiting. I reached the town in a short time, found the mentioned restaurant (it was right in the center of the town) and sat down, glad to rest.

When I looked at the track log, I was shocked. The “just a couple of short detours” stretched my hike from 17 to 29km. Well, at least I used the day to the fullest.

18.3. – a hint of spring

I skipped a hike on the second weekend because of the weather – which seems to be a recurring theme this year so far – and thus only went for one the next week. Similarly, it was a club event, and the planned route was around 17km again. So, once again, I decided to extend it a bit.

However, it was warmer, with almost clear skies. The first thing that took my attention after leaving the bus was a patch of flowers by a house.

The trail soon turned towards the woods, ascending towards a lower pass, then following around the mountains. It gave us a couple of opportunities to enjoy the scenery of woods and fields nearby and the larger hills in the background, some of them still bearing the last snow.

It didn’t take long to reach the hill with the lookout tower, and given the nice weather, I decided to go up. Unfortunately, it seemed like quite a while since the windows were last cleaned, and thus I gave up trying to take photos from the lookout platform. With the final destination being just a short distance down the hill, I decided to go on a detour once again. I descended towards the outskirts of the town below and headed towards the hills behind it.

After ascending the hills above the town, I reached a rock formation that provided even better view of the higher peaks.

As well as taking a photo of the rock formation itself.

Then, I turned back toward my original destination, walking across the town, heading to the foothills below the lookout. I took a short break there, then headed towards the smaller town that was our destination, and took a loop through the fields and woods above it, which led to a smaller lookout.

Once I reached the destination, I decided to treat myself to some good tea and cake – which led to the photo I posted already in the monthly summary.

This time, the extra detour stretched the hike to “only” 26,5km, but it was still a nice distance. More than anything, I was glad to have tested how comfortable my boots are on longer distances – and they passed more than fine.

That will be it for now – there are two more hikes I did back in March, and they’ll get their own post. For now, I can hint that there will be flowers, as spring finally made its mark on the landscape.

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