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: "How about an outdoor adventure tomorrow?" ~ "That'd be amazing! There's fresh snow outside; 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!" We agreed on the destination with similar ease: Two summits in the Jizera Mountains where I never been before. Perfect!
The first goal of the day was Smrk, which, at 1,124 m above the sea level, is the range's tallest peak. To get there, my friend and I met the next morning and headed to a railway station. 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. We got off at the town near the mountain, in elevation of 465 m. There was no snow, but just as we left the buildings behind, we found some, and it remained for the rest of the trip.
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 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 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 the WW2 and its aftermath effectively eradicated any organized tourism efforts from this region, 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 the 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 flat, except for the massive smokestacks of a coal-fired power plant in Poland, but the other cardinal directions deliver plenty to offset it. The Jizera range down south is splendid, just as the Giant Mountains to the east, and the Lusatian Highlands in the west.
The south had fast-moving inversion clouds, which made a fantastic show. 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 valley with another 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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Published by: Jakub Stepanovic in Stories