January 10, 2021

New Horizons

Wintry hike across two summits of Jizera Mountains.

"I could use some getaway," I thought, and opened a map, "..to the mountains, preferably." I got in touch with a friend to join me, and the chat went kind of like this:

~ "Hey, how do you feel about an outdoor adventure tomorrow?"
~ "That'd be amazing! There's fresh snow; let's make a loop on cross-country skis!"
~ "I was thinking more about an MTB loop."
~ "Cycling? Nah. How about a hike then?"
~ "Deal!"

I really appreciate that kind of personality: no extensive explaining, no massive planning, no need to convince anybody. You know that you can rely on each other and that the trip will work. We agreed on the destination with similar ease: Two summits in the Jizera Mountains which I haven't scaled before. Perfect!

~ "See you tomorrow at the railway station."
~ "Bye!"

We decided to take public transit to a town at the foot of the first mountain, cross it, and take a different connection back home from a village on the other side. Trains are cool, and together with neat views from the window, a good discussion, and the anticipation of what is to come, it was an exciting start of the journey.

The town we got off is at the elevation of 465 m. There was no snow, but just as we left the buildings of the settlement behind, we found some, and it remained on the ground for the rest of the trip.

The first goal of the day was Smrk, which, at 1,124 m above sea level, is the range's tallest peak. Smrk translates to English as Spruce, the dominant tree in the forests leading up to the mountain. It was beautiful to go through, and now and then, it opened fantastic outlooks on the surroundings.

With rising altitude, the snow gradually contributed to form exotic landscapes.

We knew that the summit is near when we spotted an artificial structure among the trees.

It is an observation tower that extends Smrk's pinnacle by 20m.

Interestingly, a tower of the same height was here already in 1892, attracting up to 18,000 people per year in the first half of the 20th century. Sadly, the events of WW2 and its aftermath effectively eradicated any organized tourism efforts from this region for decades, the premises fell into disrepair, and the tower collapsed in the 1950s. The current building is from the 2000s, and besides the tower, it features a good-sized shelter where visitors can spend a night. All of it is accessible free of charge, all year round. Yey!

The tower offers 360 degrees of panoramic views: The north is mostly straight, except for the smokestacks of a massive coal-fired power plant in Poland, piercing the flat horizon. The other cardinal directions deliver plenty of curves to offset it: the Jizera range down south, the Giant Mountains to the east, and the Lusatian Highlands to the west. Splendid!

Fast-moving inversion clouds over valleys made a fantastic show. But after watching it for a while, the wind left us quite cold; thus, we retreated to the shelter for a picnic.

A bit later, we moved on to the next leg of the journey.

We took the downhill path in a rush to regain some warmth, and we lost the trail in the snow. It was no issue, though; we made our own through the woods.

Eventually, we got on a forest road, which took us towards our next plan.

We turned to Klínový mound ridge, which has a rocky promontory called Paličník.

Paličník is a 15m tall rock formation topped by a cross and a viewing platform. One can reach it by stone-carved steps secured by a railing, making it easy even in snow.

On one side, we saw Smrk; on the other was a dale with the town where we headed.

While the vistas from Smrk were spectacular, I enjoyed those from Paličník even more. It wasn't as windy, and the late-afternoon sun made everything more colourful than before

Another snack later, we started going down.

We followed Hájený creek, which offered more natural prettiness.

By the time the sun dropped behind the horizon, we made it to the town...

...where we boarded a train home.

Besides the desired relaxation, the trip reinforced my thinking that, while solo adventures can be fab, sharing them with good people is even better.

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My other articles featuring snowy landscapes..

Highlands hikes

..or hiking stories.

You can also visit my blog archives for more categories and topics. Thanks for reading!

Published by: Jakub Stepanovic in Stories


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