Sitting in an open space on a one-inch wide strap tightened between two tall granite towers during a cold December day. Strong wind is blowing me from side to side, and I am as happy as a human being can be.
It all started some years back when a friend of mine introduced me to slackline, a kind-of tightrope walking sport. I gave it a try, liked it, and while I never devoted as much time to this hobby as him or some other people, I enjoyed this activity from time to time. So, when I was invited to join an annual Christmas highline meeting in the Jizera Mountains in northern Czechia, I was thrilled to attend.
I met the friend and two other slackliners in Liberec, the largest city of the region, and together we went towards the town of Hejnice, near which is the location of the meet.
In Hejnice, we joined another group of slackliners and took a short hike to climb Oresnik, an 800m /2625ft tall mountain where the meeting takes place.
Walking through a neat forest while passing beautiful rocks, we reached Oresnik's summit shortly. It is topped with massive granite blocks.
We caught our breath, chatted for a bit, and soon guys started with rigging the line.
The tallest of the granite rocks on Oresnik is accessible by a set of steep stairs carved to the stone in the late 1800s. The top has a small observation platform with a large cross. However, most of the meeting's action is happening between two smaller granite towers right next to the main peak - that's where the highline is stretched.
Oresnik offers some great views on Hejnice and its surroundings. Down there can be seen a Baroque cathedral from the first half of the 1700s, a former Franciscan monastery. It was them who erected the cross to Oresnik's summit, back in 1813.
But within a few minutes, the view on the landscapes around got shadowed by another cool spectacle, as the people got to walk the line:
It was a cloudy day. Sun rays were only in distant views, except for one short moment, where they reached us. It lasted for no more than a minute:
The clouds themselves would be fine. Much more significant impact on the conditions was caused by the strong wind, cooling down everything, and causing the line to be much more challenging to walk on (see the video below the article). The strap was oscillating in every direction like mad. My friend commented on the situation as: "this is more fun, otherwise, it'd be too easy," but I had to downgrade my expectation to do a few steps significantly.
After some messing around, all hardcore slackliners already walked the line. It was my turn.
Just as I got on the strap, I knew that it would be a success if I’ll be able only to stand up, nevermind to walk. To stand up, you start by sitting on the strap, and then you have to shift your weight from your bum towards your legs. Easy in theory, but when all the surface you have is an inch wide and is wobbly as heck, well, it is a different story. I couldn't overcome this point. Several attempts later, I simply sat down, enjoyed the open space and the views, and let the wind swing me from side to side, up and down. It was awesome.
Then I retracted to the solid ground, letting the other people to do some stuff from a different league.
Meanwhile, I got to enjoy sunset coloring the sky with pretty clouds.
It was getting darker fairy quickly, so we packed our stuff and began to descend.
By the time we got to the town, it was already dark. But while the sun was gone, the day wasn't over yet. We went to one of the slackliner's house nearby, where we had good times until late hours.
See my video from the meeting:
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Published by: Jakub Stepanovic in Stories