Memorable mountains #1

This is something I’ll try to post possibly monthly, a look back at some of the mountains I visited and are, in some way, memorable to me. At this point, I have a list of almost 80 candidates but I am not sure how many will pass. These posts would be a mix of personal stories with photos and some ‘hard facts’. Maybe some interesting things, should I know about them.

I’ll begin this with ‘Lysá hora’, the highest peak of Czech ‘Moravskoslezské beskydy’ mountain range.

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Alone in the hills, part two

There’s a tradition I try to keep going, to go for a hike between exams. It works well to clear my mind. This time, it became a bit extreme. Exam on Monday, okay, went better than expected. The hike was originally planned for Tuesday but the plan changed and I went for a bit different outdoor activity with my sister. So the hike was moved to Wednesday despite the fact that my legs were stiff from 36km of roller-blading in something like 2,5hrs (fastest lap I had was 12min 20sec for 4,5km, by the way).

Anyway, I still set up the alarm at 4:10, thinking that this time I might even regret it (I very rarely regret getting up early for a hike, even in bad weather) and went on with the adjusted plan. Of course, Wednesday + unknown place = being alone.

Waterfall height: 2,7 meters (the slide below it excluded)

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Just after the rainy days

After three weeks of idling, I finally got to the hills again. At first, it did not look well. It was raining three or four days before. The rain was not strong, but it was persistent and I know that for some, it’s enough to be a hit on their mood. If I went alone, I would not give it a second thought but this time, I was to bring a loose group of almost fifty people somewhere after four days of rain with a not-so-small chance for more of it that day.

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Stumps and stones

Over the 8 years that I am going to hike (sometimes) alone, it happened very rarely (if ever) that I took such outside inspiration. There were places in reach I wanted to see and I had some potential tips from people close to me (many of them taken from archives of the hiking club, from times before I joined and the first years when I was with them sporadically, not on 90% of events like the last years).

This time, I decided to visit a place that was suggested by a website. The deciding factor was that it was easily reached by public transport even during weekend.

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Finding inspiration

This is a slight crossover post. While focused on another journey to a nice place (with loads of photos), one of the destination is a chateau I hoped might give me some inspiration for my writing. I hope for it, at least. Also, as a side effect (is it really still late April) it seems I got a bit more summer-ish skin tone.

Before I get to the hike itself, I feel like I should mention one thing: Due to how I was traveling, I departed one hour later than I usually do for hikes that are some distance away from my home. Unfortunately there’s no train heading in the general direction of Wien around 6:00 from here, so I had to be okay with 7:00 and thus starting the walk around 9:50 (I usually try for 8:30-9:00).

The area around Lednice and Valtice towns consists of parks, ponds, the chateaus and other buildings as well as cultivated landscape totalling almost 300 square kilometers. Most of it was done by the Liechtenstein dukes on the verge of 18th and 19th century and eventually made it to UNESCO heritage in 1996. It was the reason I believed to get a bit of inspiration there, though if it’ll happen is hard to guess.

Austrian oak forests

After a walk through the groves of Austrian oaks, I reached first of the cultural landmarks: hunting lodge named ‘Diana’s temple’ and shaped like Neoclassical arch. With main hall in the top-most level.

Why would someone shape hunting lodge like that?

After a bit more walking, the next landmark was a structure in Victorian Gothic style that reminded me of how the castle used to film Harry Potter movies had its windows sculpted. That one was, for change, in pine groves.

As it was mid-week and still before the main “chateau season”, so to say – most of cultural landmarks in Czech republic have ‘pre-season’ and ‘post-season’ where they are open to public only on weekends (April and October) while during the main season (May to September) they are open 6 or 7 days in the week. That meant that most of the time, I was spared the decision whether to dish out some cash for look from inside and instead just took photos from outside and walked on. Not that I would mind it, if I was to see everything from inside, I’d probably need another day.

Shortly after, I reached quite a charming crossing of paths.

Pine and sand crossroads

From there on, I walked to a a semicircle gallery that most likely imitated Antic architecture with the statues of muses and eventually a neoclassical farm that is currently used for horse breeding, yet at that point my main attention was more to the nature.

Seems that this particular pond is dry for quit a while…

The trail led me around a pond that seemed to be well unused for some time, based on the rampant growth of grass. Eventually, I walked to the set of three ponds, first taking a small detour on the shores of the east-most one and after returning, crossing them between the central and east one.

At that point, the sounds of various birds was my main companion. After I left the ponds behind me, I eventually reached the Lednice town and headed for the town square and eventually the chateau gardens (the gardens are open to public). As mentioned above, most of the castle was closed, apart from the greenhouse which I decided to not visit – it was awfully hot on its own already, for late April. So, I walked around the gardens taking pictures.

It was this exact place I hoped to give me some inspiration. I visited in once already, in June 2008. I remember it well, it was school trip and we took the same train back as several of the Polish fans as it was just after the Polish team lost the final match. Good thing we had seat reservations paid in advance, otherwise we’d be hard pressed to find free seats. So, I returned there after (almost) 10 years.

Memories of that aside, at that point I was glad that I could get there mid-week, I am sure that with weather like this, the place would be awfully crowded during weekends.

The park itself has “no cycling” signs pretty much everywhere, for obvious reasons. People wanting to see the landmarks could be threatened by fast-moving cyclists. On the other hand, the area around is quite flat lowlands, which is perfect for cyclists. So, I saw quite a lot of them pushing their bicycles around (which is allowed), leaning them on the benches when they were taking photos.

Several photos later (I’ve shown only a few above) I left even the chateau’s park behind and walked to my next destination. Now it was walking mostly through fields with trees growing either solo or in small groups, many of them looking like they took a lightning strike during their life, being leafless, the tip broken away and the bark gone.

Then came probably the most interesting cultural landmark. Obviously, artificially worn out things were there long before 2010s jeans. Someone in early 1800s had the idea of having a hunting lodge (yes, another one) built to look like ruins of a gothic style castle.

Romanticism fascination with old (especially Gothic) things and the sad story of them falling apart was brought maybe too far in that case.

And that was pretty much the last interesting point of my journey. From there, I had roughly 8km to go through riparian forests, which can be interesting to see. Unfortunately, the trail took pretty the most direct route on asphalt road used by foresters, with the last 2,5km being through the city. I was disappointed by that, partially because I know that riparian forests can be nice relaxing place and because asphalt feels awfully hot in days like this one.

On the other hand, it possibly saved a bit of my time. I reached the rail station in Břeclav at 15:08, with the train in my direction departing 15:11. Pretty much perfect timing.

Map with GPS log included. Unfortunately, the dense foliage and water caused some multipath issues (without too much technical details: satellite signals reflected by water and ‘bent’ by the vegetation screw up the calculation of my position), which makes it look like I went through the pond. That was not the case (I can’t swim and it’s not that shallow), it’s just limitations of technology.

And that’s it for this one.