Summer

a snowy getaway in the bohemian forest

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i haven’t yet had the opportunity to write about this year’s trip to the šumava for the long easter weekend! as we have four official days (or five school days) off for easter, it is our tradition to go on some kind of trip. if easter falls earlier in the year, we typically like to head to a city. if it falls later – some after about the 10th of april– we like to head to the natural wonderland in our backyard that is šumava national park. this year, everything was set and booked to head to a city we both enjoy to get to know it a bit better… and then… doubts. city burnout (from both brno and prague earlier a couple weeks before). a train ticket that cost over double what it did a couple months ago (which is why you really gotta book in advance). one week before that trip, for better or worse, we made a snap decision and cancelled everything in favor of heading to the forests and hills.

we have been to

šumava

twice before, each time in a different area – in 2014 near lipno lake (reservoir) and last year in 2017, in the wilds of the boubin primeval forest in such a sweet and friendly little pension. it’s a no-brainer when you consider how near such a beautiful area is to where we live. this year, we decided to head to northwest šumava in an area that isn’t even considered south bohemia anymore, but rather the plzen region as there were some pretty lakes up there i had been dying to hike to. we stayed in hojsova stráž, a tiny one-road village nestled nearly riiiight up against the czech-german border. it’s now known for its stunning astronomical clock (orloj) in the center of the village, which is only a few months old.

in this borderlands area, you’ll notice many more bilingual signs and it is basically mandatory for the pension owners here to be proficient in german. around our pension, it was probably the major language spoken and definitely came in handy.

a peak at little hojsovka…

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it wasn’t exactly the springy and bloom-filled easter wonderland of years fore as for most of the time when we were there, the weather was either cold and misty, or just downright awful on easter sunday with sideways snow and rain. (reminding me why we usually come no earlier than april).

our hike on the day before easter was another great reminder. everything seemed promising as we headed up into the hills – a cool day with a bit of mist but nothing fierce. the first time we came across snow, it seemed like a novelty. the next time, right as we hit about 900m, we had to face that fact that we would be hiking the remaining 250m uphill…. on an increasingly large snow pack. i’m writing this paragraph rather calmly, but this fact sort of hit me like a ton of bricks. the weather grew colder and mistier as we walked upward in a snowy forest. at one point, you can see it was measured one meter of snowpack. this was my first real winter hike, i suppose, but aside from gloves (brrrrr) i was all set.

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(my general feelings about this hike so far)

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ferdie didn’t like it much though, poor guy, although he was the biggest trooper of us all. fortunately we did have the foresight to bring his new doodlebone rain jacket with after last month’s wet city travails. the issue is, little dude is so low to the ground anyway he is just bound to get wet. he stayed on little patches of forest floor whenever possible.

the goal of this hike was to reach the two beautiful and mysterious glacial lakes deep in the forest that are only accessible on foot: černé jezero (black lake) and čertovo jezero (devil’s lake). i had been wanting to make a trip to see them for years. so i might build some kind of sympathetic case when i tell you that when we finally got to the first lake, after hours upon hours of cold snow hiking – this is what we saw (first photo, below). i cried. not tears of joy.

i have no idea why i thought it would be beautiful, dark and summery – but nope, still completely frozen over on the last day of march, not that you could even see that because of the fog. oh weepy me.

conditions improved a bit after we reached devil’s lake (although we had to endure 1km of what i call ‘the gulag hill’ to get there). the fog receded to let us see a bit of a misty frozen lake. it was actually quite a beautiful wintery scene, all said and done.

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(notice how the snowpack is at ONE METER! on the last day of march)

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(approaching devil’s lake – not shown, countless puddles and streams of melting snow we  had to jump over)

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by this time i had kinda had it, y’all. unfortunately, our hike was not done with us yet. the trail we decided to use down the hill from devil’s lake, unbeknownst to us, ran parallel to a ski slope at the špičák ski resort. basically, there was no trail. the ski slope was the trail. and you can bet i’m not walking down a groomed, slippery ski slope in doc martens as i did not have a death wish that day. god, i wished for a snowboard more than a handful of times.

fortunately, delicious food from the sweet little hospudka-like restaurant at the train station at špičák was the perfect thing to end that afternoon. i was endlessly jealous of alex’s blueberry-filled knedliky (dumplings) while i still enjoyed my more reasonable fried cauliflower (a delicious czech specialty). few meals have ever tasted as good as these after a full day’s snowy hike in the hills.

needless to say we took it a bit easier the following days and spent some nice time enjoying our pension’s in-house spa and sauna! totally and completely just the thing after a grueling, snowy hike. oh, and tea. especially my beautiful ‘happy easter’ herbal and botanical blend from sonnentor that is absolutely delicious.

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easter monday rolled around – the big celebration day here in the czech republic – which is a fact i may have forgotten about as i climbed down the pension stairs to the shared foyer to take ferdie out and came face-to-face with about six guys of varying ages, all carrying easter baskets and pomlazky (braided easter sticks). it took us both two beats before realizing what was going on and what i had just walked into. so, i did get “blessed” by the easter stick, after all.
(if that sentence confuses you, pop over to my post about czech easter traditions to see why i would be “beaten” on easter monday)

lamb cake was consumed as were countless chocolate eggs as well as other delicious holiday foods. it may have not been the spring hiking trip of our dreams, and man do i have a whole ton of beautiful wintery nature photos that i have almost no inkling to look at right now as all my focus has turned to blossoms and that warm, warm sunshine. but they are pretty, though. maybe snowy hiking is your thing. i can say for sure that i’m a warm weather gal through and through. i can highly recommend coming back in the summer, and i was very surprised how there is a direct train to prague from this area! pretty convenient.

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later that day when we arrived back in budejovice – as it always happens when we return to budejovice – the sun was out and the temperatures were warmer than they had been all winter. spring had found us that very day. the guitar playing dude was in the park, the city smiled upon us as it always does. do you ever get the feeling that your city or town welcomes you back in some strange way? maybe even a little sign, like a pretty sunset or something else serendipitous? i do believe in that; that it means something. it never fails.

ps, peruse our past easter travels: boubin primeval forest (2017), budapest (2016), prague (2015), lipno lake bohemian forest (2014), vienna (2013).

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