Trees by the road

Recently, an article in newspaper took my attention. Since 1752 when the queen of Habsburg empire made the decree, lines of trees were planted around the roads. This had several reasons: it helped with orientation, it prevented erosion of the road (which, at that time, differed vastly from what we know now) and it gave at least partial shelter against the elements to those using the road.

During both world wars, these trees by the road were often left to their own fate and lack of care was problem ever since, despite the fact that they could have their own role even today.

Picture credits: Radosław Drozdziewski (taken from Wikipedia)

Over the years, climate changes made some trees far too vulnerable. Roads became wider and transport faster. While planting trees right next to the road was good in 18th century, it’s not so good today. Partially because their roots can disrupt asphalt, and because the road itself limits their growth. Partially because crashing into a tree is potentially deadly accident. And lastly, because salting roads during winter is not really healthy for the trees.

Yet, many of the positive aspects still preserve. They can act as partial shelter, disrupting the wind, giving pleasant shade in summer and being important landscaping element. Due to how roads and traffic works these days, those who care for the roads say that the optimal distance from the road is (based on allowed speed) 3 to 7 meters, compared to 1 to 1,5 meters used in 18th century. Yet, the buffer line where the land belongs to state (or district, or whoever owns the road) is usually 3 meters, which means planting the trees would need to be done on private property, if they were to be in safe spot…

There are issues, but it seems that landscaping that worked 250+ years in past can still work well in present time. That is, if the choice of tree respects the conditions.

Hike on a rainy day

While the weather is at least decent on most of my hikes, and probably over half of them has weather close to perfect, there are times when my luck just runs out. Sometimes that means just gloomy and misty weather, which is the best of the bad possibilities, but sometimes it gets to outright rain. If it’s my own plan, then I might just delay it, but if it’s during a longer stay or just an event I signed up beforehand, then I just go and take some shorter route, but go anyway. As we say here, there’s no bad weather, only bad equipment.

In the past years, November was usually safe bet for at least gloomy weather if not rain. Compared to the shining colors of early autumn, it usually gets sad in that one month. It’s probably the reason why I have the least photos made in November.

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Look back: January hiking

With this winter being quite warm here so far, I am looking back at the previous years. Even then, the experience was vastly different. There was a year when I was hiking a day before Christmas and it was muddy, and two weeks later it was close to a meter of snow. And there were years when it was the exact opposite.

2015

New year had lots of snow. Four days before this photo was taken, I hiked the mountain that is covered in clouds, and there was a lot of snow around, even in these lower portions. Not so much now. Eventually some snow returned in February for one more winter-like walk around, but that was all.

2016

This was pretty much the opposite. The snowfall started pretty much on new year, and it went on for the night after. Even in this place that is pretty much lowlands, the land got quite nice cover of snow. Thin, but still enough for a good winter feeling. Combined with the fact that the temperature was just below zero, it was quite pleasant time.

The original plan was something around 10km, but being in easy terrain, I decided to extend it, ending up at nice 17km. Unfortunately both lookout towers on the way were closed.

 

Two weeks later, I went for another hike. It was place that is normally crowded, and was so during the weekend. Needing to clear my head before exams, I went there on Monday. It was -13°C and there was quite a lot of wind the previous night, which meant I had to push my way knee-deep in snow in the side path I used. It was better on the main path, but I did not stay long there.

If you can’t see the way, make one.

The (almost) circuit ended up at 18km, but in the cold and the fact I was making my own path for most of it, made me quite exhausted. More so than 25km in summer.

2017

I admit I have no clue how the new year looked like. I made some mistake on the day before and my overly sensitive digestion took it very poorly. I had to force myself to eat at least something for the next four days and lost almost 4kg of weight. But I did not want to cancel coming for the planned hike. Fortunately, by Friday I was doing better and so I went for it, despite still feeling quite empty and not having eater seriously since 1st.

The weather was, in a way, perfect. Dry and frozen weather is the best for far sights, if it’s sunny as well, the best for really nice winter photos. There was a small trouble: -22°C and my weakened body. But then, I am long saying that there is one solution that fixes all problems: Go to the hills. It worked. I went on and even with the cold, reached the peak in my usual time around 1h 40 minutes, something many would have trouble in summer.

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Ain’t no mountain cold enough…

Even though it’s place I am visiting pretty much every year, this was something I had to enjoy. Usually very crowded place now being almost empty and with sights I only saw on pictures before. I walked around for almost twenty minutes, just enjoying it and taking some photos here and there, which is not easy in such cold. It’s hard to take them with gloves on, and it’s definitely not comfortable to remove gloves in such cold, even if for a few second. The fact that the gloves I had can uncover just the fingertips helped, but my thin fingers get cold far too easily.

I had a bit of adventure on the way back, as I decided to take different trail than I used to get up. Unfortunately, the snow-covered trees meant the trail marks were invisible and so I just followed some trails. This eventually sent me somewhere into wilderness on steep descent and I was hoping every single moment that I won’t end up tumbling down and that no one will see me as the are is natural reserve and I was not even sure it was legal to be there. Still, in retrospective, it was very nice day and so far my best winter hike (and coldest one.)


I guess I might do such looks back for every month in the future.

Vastly different

Another year begins, and the first weekend of a new year, I usually go for a walk (it’s not always a serious hike). There’s quite some striking difference between the first weekend of 2017 and 2018. While last year, it was cold wave here in the central Europe and I was forced to pile several layers of clothes to stay warm, this year I had the opposite problem.

7.1.2017 – Sunny, lots of snow, -22°C
6.1.2018 – Overcast, windy, +9°C

I guess that the situation reversed with the cold wave in USA and Canada… anyway, let’s see that comparison in pictures.

7.1.2017 – perfect winter

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6.1.2018 – quite sad-looking day

While there is some snow in the hills, it’s melting and very uncomfortable for hiking and that’s for a few weeks already. Forecast these days says that there won’t be much of winter in the near weeks, so I guess I am left with hopes for mid-February, which is usually the time of some colder days even in the years where the year’s beginning was warm.

Look back: A place nice in any season, but best in autumn

This time, I’ll write a bit about a place I like to visit, and one that I found to be great for seeing the seasons change. But as with any mixed forest, it’s autumn when it truly shines. This post will be about the southern part of ‘Rychlebské hory’ mountain range on CZ-PL border, near the Jeseník and Horní Lipová spa towns.

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