Stumbling upon treasures while hiking in central Slovakia.
As the winter drew to a close, we opted to do a day trip to the Štiavnica Mountains, the largest volcanic mountain range of the Western Carpathians. Such an origin caused them to be quite mineral-rich, which people utilized for centuries to make this region flourish.
As with most heavy industries in Europe, mining no longer dominates the area, but many local names still reflect the ore-extracting past. The mountain we picked as the destination for our hike is called Zlatý Vrch — Golden Summit in English. Could we find some gold there? It wasn't our aspiration; however, we found rounded but relatively steep landscapes glowing in the warm morning sun. "That would do as well!"
We ascended higher into the mountains on backcountry roads set in scenic views evoked the dirt roads I roamed in Colorado. Meanwhile, new good memories were in the making.
There's something special about being in the mountains during this time of the year. Each season has something great in it, but seeing the waking nature after its winter sleep is refreshing — Just like the crisp air further up on our trip was. It was too early to have a delicate fragrance of blooming wildflowers, yet the earthy scent of the last standing snow shouted the message: the winter reaches its end.
One of the white patches, turned out, wasn't snow. It was a wreck of an old four-by-four.
Unexpectedly, it wasn't alone; we found the hillside sprinkled with a few other cars, some more reclaimed by nature than others. A strange sight.
What is their story? Who brought them here? We wondered and went to have a closer look.
While a fun diversion, the wreck wasn't here to ease our ascent. We had to earn it on foot. So, we retraced our steps back to the trail and passed a cross near what appeared as old foundations. Another place that could surely tell plenty of stories, if it could talk.
The last stretch to the Golden Hill was very scenic. Fir added green to the still barren deciduous mixture of mostly beeches and oaks, and the outlooks got more distant.
The golden summit has 360 degrees of scenery to admire. Picnic time!
Lush forests, picturesque valleys...
...and snow-capped peaks of the Tatra Mountains in the background. Fantastic!
After a thoroughly enjoyable break, we joined another dirt road to leave the hill behind.
Still, the spectacular views lasted for a while.
By that time, the treasure of our trip became clear: another fine day in the hills; pure gold.