With only that in mind, we packed our bags for what would be Part 2 of our journey in the Czech Republic. There’s always something magical about not knowing exactly where you’ll go, what you’ll see and how you’ll feel.
I must qualify though, this didn’t mean we went unprepared. In fact, we probably brought more gear then required (15-18kg each), but better safe then lose the magic because of some mishap right.
Anyway, after some researching in Prague, Daniel suggest this route. The Polish-Czech Friendship trail as the name suggests, runs along the borders of Poland and Czech Republic in the Karkonosze Mountains, north of the Bohemian Paradise. It sounded pretty interesting, but it was probably the promise of conquering Sněžka (1,602m), the highest mountain in the Czech Republic that won us over.
We started at Harrachov, a lovely ski town some 1hr45mins by bus from Černý Most (Prague). With our GPS iPhone app (mapy.cz) and the well marked routes, nothing could possibly go wrong. Yeah right.
The first obstacle greeted us just 2hours into the hike. We kind of got the start point wrong and the trail that was supposed to link didn’t. Refusing to trek back, we decided to follow the border markers until we joined the trail a couple of kilometers ahead. It turned out to be quite fun and as we later learned, was the most isolated and lovely part of our hike.
Back on the trail, we finally saw other hikers and even went past a restaurant somewhere along the route (so you don’t really have to pack too much food).
Despite the cold (down to 2 degrees at night), it was kind of surreal (and possibly even romantic) being out there with no one other than your buddy around for miles. The city is so full of chaos and noise that it’s liberating to be away from it from time to time. We also probably picked a “good” period because no one in the right frame of mind would be camping with this kind of weather. The rest of the night was pretty torturous though, because despite being tired from a full day of up and down slopes, the cold and this grunting sound (wild boar? toad? wind?) kept us awake.
The second day started really well and we managed to make up a lot of ground. It was only upon reaching Sněžka, did things become more challenging as the weather made a turn for the worst. The final touristy climb up Sněžka was probably the hardest 30mins of our hike as we battled the steep climb with strong winds that threatened to blow us off the trail. But imagine the satisfaction at the top, it was LEGEN-wait for it-keep waiting-DARY.
Perhaps we were more tired, accustomed to the cold, or simply felt safe in the deep pine forest, but we slept really well this night.
This was the day that I checked one more thing off my bucket list. It was the day the deep pine forest became the enchanted rainforest and I felt like a kid again. We had just finished packing our tent when the first flecks of snow drifted down. It wasn’t exactly the fluffy kind but nevertheless it was the first time I’ve seen snow in my life. CAN YOU IMAGINE THE JOY?!!
The weather eventually warmed up and we ended our trek at Pec Pod Sněžkou before heading back to Harrachov by bus to pick up the rest of our belongings from the pension.
People often ask me why I hike when it’s tiring, torturous, your feet ache, boring and potentially dangerous. Everyone probably does it for different reasons but for me, it is both the journey and the destination. Every hike is a way to get closer to nature and yourself. Other than the potential of a view at the end (if the weather is good), the challenge of pushing oneself, there is also a lot of time both think and not think. To ponder about the complexities of life or tune out to the rhythm of your steps.