walkhighlands

E3: Czech Republic - Děčín to Harrachov

Date walked: 28/07/2020

Distance: 174km

The European long distant path E3 is 6,950 km (4,319 miles) long, connecting Santiago de Compostela in Spain with Emine, Bulgaria, on the Black Sea. On its way, it passes through Spain, France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria. Traildino.com describes three Czech sections: South leg (300 km) from Pomezí nad Ohří to Hřensko (an alternative to a German section), Central leg (152 km) from Hřensko to Harrachov, where E3 enters Poland, and a last leg from Dolní Lipka to Horní Bečva, where E3 enters Slovakia. I call the last section the “Moravian leg” – even though the section starts in Bohemia, it quickly leaves it and most of the 291 km are in Moravia (Bohemia and Moravia are the two geographical parts of the Czech Republic).

Since a combination of the Covid-19 pandemic, slowly healing and recurring injuries, and other circumstances thwarted my plans for crossing the Swiss Alps, I decided to walk some of the Czech sections of E3 instead. I knew I wouldn’t have time to walk all of the Czech parts, so I decided to do the Central leg and as much as possible of the Moravian one. But since I also wanted to visit CHKO Labské pískovce (Protected Landscape Area Elbe Sandstones), I added the last ca 18 km of the South leg and started my trip in Děčín.

Day 1: CHKO Labské pískovce (Protected Landscape Area Elbe Sandstones)
Děčín to 1 km past Labská stráň; map distance 15 km (GPS tracked distance, including small detours to viewpoints, ca 18 km)

2020… what can one say? As if thwarting of my original summer plans wasn’t enough, the semester and its related responsibilities stretched way into July due to the pandemic, which resulted in postponement of the start of my trip. After changing my departure twice, I finally started (only 4 days later than originally planned). And of course, my train was delayed… I was starting to wonder if those were sings of some sort or just a “higher power” timing rearrangement for a better trip? But finally, I found myself in Děčín, one summer afternoon. I crossed the Labe / Elbe River and stopped by Děčín chateau (https://www.zamekdecin.cz/en) for a little bit. I didn’t take a tour but enjoyed the chateau’s rose garden and views of the city. But as time was flying by, I took a bus to the other side of the town and headed out (and up), finally starting my E3 adventure, following the red/white tourist waymark.

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Děčín from Stoličná mountain


CHKO Labské pískovce (Protected Landscape Area Elbe Sandstones) is a beautiful area of sandstone rock formations along the Labe/Elbe River. The path from Děčín goes immediately up to Stoličná hora/mountain (291m) and mostly stays on top of the Labe Canyon, offering beautiful views of the river below (from multiple viewpoints you need to take small detours to). The forest wasn’t overrun by tourists here at all – I met few bikers and locals out for an afternoon walk, and only few day hikers. Most of the time, I had the forest to myself, peaceful and quiet. There were nice wooden benches here and there in the woods nearby Děčín, with nicely carved decorations, mostly of birds. However, as the path moved away from the town, the benches disappeared and only tourist shelters (table, bench, and a small roof above it) would appear occasionally. The path was mostly in forest, crossing meadows or fields only occasionally. And blueberries – so many of them!

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Labe / Elbe River


The weather cooperated; the expected shower turned into wind and few clouds only. I reached Belvedér viewpoint around 6 pm, enjoyed the view of the Labe Canyon for a while and then headed away from the river, toward a small village Labská stráň, tentatively scanning for a place to sleep. I found one about a kilometer past the village on the edge of a forest and a small field. A checked the forest floor for animal paths and finally selected a spot, only to discover I would have had ants for neighbors, after putting up my tent. I moved little bit away and got ready for the night.

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Night #1: A friend of mine recently said that when you‘re alone in a forest at night, all the sounds seem louder/bigger and closer than they are. Ture. As I settled for the night, I listened to a critter rummaging in the leaves next to my tent… a mouse? A lizard? It may have been only a beetle, but it sure sounded like something bigger… and probably closer than it actually was. With the dusk, a shot fired in a distance.. but how far was it really? My guess – foresters looking for the overpopulated boars... The night fell and I heard soft steps and sniffing next to my tent… could it be a fox? Or a mouse? Another forest dweller? Almost asleep, I heard hoofs running past my tent… deer? Maybe… I found some deer footprints in the morning not too far away… aaaaaah, away from a city and back in nature, what more is there to wish for?

Days 2: CHKO Labské pískovce and NP České Švýcarsko (National Park Bohemian Switzerland)
Labská stráň to Mezní louka campsite; map distance 15 km (GPS tracker 17 km)

An early morning in a quiet forest, only the birds chirping. A quick breakfast and off I was, with the sun up and warming the day. The path gradually descended and entered the Labe/Elbe Canyon, which is reportedly the “most massive” sandstone canyon in Europe. It is 300 m at its deepest and stretches between Děčín and Hřensko. It is a National Nature Reserve, which means no camping or bivouacking within its borders, no open fire, including smoking.

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the Elbe Canyon


I walked between the sandstone walls, following a small creek on its way to the Labe River. While the sun reached in and warmed my back, the bottom of the canyon remained nicely chilled and in a sort of dark green hue. During the hour or so that I walked through this part of the canyon, I met only one couple with their dogs – empty, quiet, beautiful morning. It didn’t take long however before I reached the Labe River and a road to Hřensko, a small town on the Czech-German border, sitting between the CHKO Labské pískovce (Elbe Sandstones) and NP České Švýcarsko (National Park Bohemian Switzerland). It is also the ending point of the Southern Leg of Czech E3 and the beginning of the Central Leg. The number of cars and people immediately tell you that you’re in a popular tourist spot. Even though Hřensko is a small town, it feels more like the historical center of Prague – crowded with tourists. The recently lifted Covid restrictions and the still limited international travel, only added to the crowdedness of an already popular tourist destination. I quickly walked through the town and stopped for a morning coffee on the other side, before heading out again. However, leaving the town didn’t help much, as stream of tourists and day hikers were heading in the same direction – to one of the most popular spots in the national park, Pravčická brána (Pravčická Archway/Gate), a huge sandstone rock with beautiful views of the park. The road leading to PB is wide and comfortable, a remnant of an early tourist road built in the 19th century. But as it was climbing up the sandstone rocks, it got narrower and more shaded by trees, which was a great relieve on a hot sunny day. The crowds spread out slightly, but PB was overrun with visitors again. I braved the crowds, paid the entrance fee and walked over to a nearby viewpoint to enjoy the views.

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Pravčická brána, NP Bohemian Switzerland


After a break on a sun-heated rock plateau, my water supplies refilled, I continued east, leaving most of the tourist crowds behind me. There were still day hikers around, but not as many as between Hřensko and Pravčická brána. I even got few precious moments alone again, free to enjoy the sandstone rocks and my meandering among them. Since Bohemian Switzerland is a national park and a quiet zone, the strictest rules for nature protection are enforced here, which means no bivouacking/wild camping, open fires, etc., and so I headed to Mezní louka campsite, located in the middle of the park. No reservations needed for tents. The campsite also offers huts and there is a hotel right next to it, where you can charge your phone. The campsite offers nice and clean showers and fire pits. Surprisingly, it wasn’t as full as I expected, though certainly not empty. I met some Czech bikers, who recommended stopping in Jetřichovice campsite the next day, at least for a dip in their pond / natural swimming pool.

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NP Bohemian Switzerland


Day 3: NP České Švýcarsko
Mezní louka to Jetřichovice; map distance 13 km (GPS tracker 15 km)

I took my time in the morning waiting for the condensation on my tent to dry out and left around 10 am. And immediately started with a steep ascent – challenging ascent in general, but with a fully loaded backpack… brutal, yet still enjoyable….s teep ups and downs on narrow paths and ladders, steps formed by tree roots and stones, sometimes slippery from all the sand. After the initial ascent I enjoyed a relatively levelled path up to Malá Pravčická brána (Small Pravčická Archway/Gate) – a much smaller version of Pravčická brána from the day before (and less people). And while I met some day hikers, they were few and far between, spread along the path, allowing for quite moments alone. There was, of course, a bigger concentration of tourists at points of interest, such as the Small Pravčická Archway or a rock castle Šaunštejn

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NP Bohemian Switzerland


At Malá Pravčická brána I met a group of three families on vacation. One of the women offered to watch my backpack, so I didn’t have to haul it up the steep ladder to the top of the archway. I met with the group again at Šaunštejn and took advantage of their generosity again. I wouldn’t have been able to visit the rock castle otherwise, as it requires climbing steep ladders through narrow rock openings, barely allowing for small day packs to fit. The top of the rock massive offered another beautiful view of the surrounding area and the way up and down was fun.

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Malá Pravčická Archway


The path continued east, the number of people diminished, the day hikers spreading along the way, so I was left to enjoy the rocks and forest alone most of the time. At few moments, the E3 / red waymarked path joined a wider road, but for most parts it remained a forest path – narrow among and around the rocks with occasional drop offs on one side, up and down … I would probably compare it to the Loch Lomond section of the WHW. I had to skip a viewpoint Rudolfův kámen as its access was similar to that of Šaunštejn, but took a side trip to Wilhelmina’s Cliff viewpoint instead, which offered another breathtaking view of the area. Shortly afterwards, I left the national park and entered Jetřichovice, a small town with a nearby campsite. Originally, I thought I would continue past it, but the challenging terrain (with a fully loaded backpack) and the inviting pond/natural swimming pool within the campsite changed my mind and I stayed for the night. The ponds cold water was a balm for my feet and in the evening I my campsite neighbours, a group of friends I called “The Four Js” as all their first names started with J., invited me to share their campfire with stories of hiking and wanderings… the night came, more campfires lighted up and eventually a guitar sounded nearby…

E3: Czech Republic, days 1 – 3


Day 4 : Lužické hory (Lusatian Mountains)
Jetřichovice to tourist shelter Tolštejnská cesta; map distance ca 19,5 km (GPS tracker 22 km)

I started my day with a broken tent pole (one part broken, one part cracked). The Four Js helped me to temporarily fix it with a tape and a piece of tube I had in my tent repair kit. We’ll see how it performs… The first few km lead through Pavliino údolí / Pauline Valley, a sort of mini canyon walled with sandstone rocks, chilled by the forest and a creek. Around the village of Studený I left the valley and entered the Lužické / Lusatian Mountains, meadows and fields for a little bit and then back into the forest again. I took a brief detour to Studenec hill (737 m) – a steep climb, with a nice view from the view tower on the summit. A detour to the nearby Zlatý vrch (Golden Hill or Goldberg), a hilltop and former basalt quarry with basalt cones rising up to 500 m, might be another option. The path today was easy forest paths and service roads. The concern here was water. Lužické Mountains were quite dried out – many places indicated on the map as water sources were either completely dry or they were just “moist,” and it was impossible to collect water from them. The Czech Republic has been experiencing a drought for the past 5 years and the Lusatian Mountains provided a clear example of it. I was able to fill up toward the end of the day at Jedlová train station that has a natural spring with excellent water. I took a break in the train station restaurant and chatted with the locals, who warned me of the wild boars in the area. As if the drought wasn’t enough, my country has been dealing with an overpopulation of wild boars as well… and apparently there’s plenty of them in the Lusatian Mountains. The locals had few helpful tips as well – don’t sleep under beech or oak trees, look for the sings of a recent wild boar activity, etc. I thanked them, said my goodbyes and continued for another 1,5 km before finding a place for the night. Luckily, no encounters with wild boars so far…

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Lužické / Lusatian Mountains


Day 5: Lužické hory
Tourist shelter Tolštejnská cesta to Na Šestce (with an unplanned alternate route around Hvozd); map distance 22 km (GPS tracker 23.7 km)

Started the day with a bird using my tent as a toilet. OK, I guess we all have to pay our dues to the nature gods…. After a breakfast at the tourist shelter and some chatting with day hikers, I continued on my way toward the ruins of Tolštejn Castle. I followed the E3 as marked, but it would be possible to save some time and energy and just follow the road from the shelter, which goes there more directly. Another possible trip would be a short detour to a nearby hill Jedlová (774 m). The ruins indicate, the castle was quite a large one, built in 1278 as part of the region’s defense system. The castle changed owners throughout the years until it was conquered and plundered during the Thirty Years War. It offers a nice view of the surrounding mountains and a small restaurant / pub, where I filled up on water – it was another hot day, almost no cloud in the sky. Fortunately, while the path crossed meadows and fields, it led mostly through forests, which offered some shade. A long descent from the castle only to cross a stream and start a long steep ascent. From here, the path leads mostly on and along the mountain ridge and the Czech/German border. Since Lužické Mountains are not that high, even the paths along mountain ridges are hidden in forests and don’t offer that many views of the surrounding areas. Knowing I would be ascending Hvozd / Hochwald (749 m), I skipped Luž (793 m) and headed directly to a nearby hamlet Myslivny and Cottage Luž where I took a brief break, treating myself to an ice coffee and ice cream. On the way there I met two hikers who also took a break at CL and we chatted about the scarcity of water and the road ahead, as they were heading in the same direction as me.

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The next part of the road took me again to and along the Czech / German border and the crossing Waltersdorf with a memorial to Czechoslovak border patrol that defended a local custom office here in September 1938. In the area of Lužické Mountains, you come across remnants of the pre-Second World War years, mostly old bunkers that were part of the border protection system.

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Waltersdorf


Continuing through meadows and fields, hamlet Dolní Světlá, back into a forest and out into a meadow again until I got close to Krompach. I was supposed to go through the town and was looking forward to seeing the chateau there. But enjoying the sunny warm day and listening to all the buzzing and chirping, I somehow missed the turn of the red waymark and ended up in a different part of the town outskirt. Never mind, there was a yellow waymark that led to Hvozd / Hochwald as well, basically parallel to the red one. It just went through Germany instead of the Czech Republic. Looking at the map, my unintentional alternate route may have been more direct than the official E3. Hvozd / Hochwald (749 m) offers another 360° view of the surrounding countryside and Lužické Mountains. A short break, filling my water, and a descent down the hill, looking for a place for the night. The forest around here didn’t feel very inviting though – thick underbrush or mostly just oaks and breeches. And with information signs about the overpopulated wild boars in this area, I preferred to find some evergreens to sleep under. At 7 pm I was at a crossroad Na Šestce, looking at the map and figuring out how far I should try to go, when I heard clinking of utensils…. Maybe a summer camp? I followed the sounds and sure enough – a Scout summer camp. The camp leaders didn’t mind me putting my tent across the road from them for the night and ensured me that the wild boars stay away while the camp is in session. Though when they depart, the boars are back within 3 hours or so. Good thing the scouts were staying for the night. I found a nice place among some spruces and enjoyed an evening of live music reaching me from the camp.

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Hvozd / Hochwald


Day 6: Lužické hory and Ještědsko-kozákovský hřbet (Ještěd-Kozákov Ridge)
Na Šestce to St. Christopher Chapel crossroad / tourist shelter; map distance 21 km (GPS tracker 23.7 km)

I was up before the kids and on my way before they finished their breakfast. I should have checked my map before I headed out though. If I did, I would have realized that just few meters past the camp is a natural spring where I could have filled up on water. From planning my trip, I knew there should be another natural spring on my way, not far from the camp site, so I just headed out. Unfortunately, this spring – Cat’s spring – had a stagnant water, which I would use with filter only and in the highest need… maybe… I still had about 0.5 L of water left and, according to the map, there was another spring in a nearby village Petrovice. So I wasn’t that worried, though the situation wasn’t ideal, given the hot, dry summer days we were having. I took a detour to a nearby hill Sokol. The way signs warned there was no view due to high trees, but there were supposed to be ruins of a castle Old Falkenborg. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much left of it, only few wall remnants. Definitely not worth the time and effort. But I did meet a very nice local lady on her way down the hill and had a short, lovely chat with her – about wild boars, of course…. They seem to be the topic of the year here.

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Petrovice


Back at Cat Spring crossroad, I met the two hikers from the day before. We chatted for a while about the overall dryness of Lužické Mountains, where they ended up camping the night before (not far from me), but also about the forecast – while still clear and sunny at this point, a possible t-storm was expected for the late afternoon / evening on the Ještěd-Kozákov Ridge, where I was going to be sleeping. I needed to plan my sleeping spot a little bit more for tonight as t-storm on a mountain ridge, however low, isn’t the best situation. So, I didn’t linger long, said my goodbyes and headed toward Petrovice, where I hoped to refill my water. Alas, the spring there has been dried for the past few years. Fortunately, the locals are used to filling up water for hikers and bikers. Not only did I get my water, I also got a homemade pie for the road from a very nice lady. Shortly after Petrovice I delved back into the forest, noting signs warning against approaching wildlife this time of year, as the young ones are coming out, and enjoyed the forest road with occasional rock formations adoring the forest. I followed the red waymark of the E3, though there is a possible short alternate before Horní Sedlo on a green waymark that goes through some interesting rock formations in the area - Vraní and Horní skály. In Horní Sedlo I left the Lužické Mountains and entered the Ještěd-Kozákov Ridge. The path became steeper and steeper turning into a ridge path, though still hidden in the trees, as the mountains here are not that high. The path goes through another amazing rock formation – White/Elephant Rocks before descending to village Jitrava (the village itself is back in the Lusatian Mountains, so E3 leaves the Ridge briefly, passes through the village and re-enters the Ještěd-Kozákov Ridge again).

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White/Elephant Rocks


A short coffee break and a water refill at a gas station at the beginning of the village, re-check of the weather radar – I had about 3 - 4 hours before the expected t-storm, and off again, through the village. I played for a little bit with a friendly kitty, who wanted to go with me, but I managed to persuade her to stay. Right before leaving the village, a local family offered me water and another homemade pie. I gratefully took a cup of cold water to sip and chatted with them about my hike for a while. The husband assured me that most of the storms in the area miss the ridge and descend into the valleys, so I should be OK and agreed my selected possible spot for tonight were good choices. Up, up, up back on the ridge (still hidden in the grown trees with no views), the clouds started to gather and the temperature to drop. I met few day hikers as the evening approached, hurrying back to their accommodations. At the crossroad Pod Velkým Vápenným, I found a natural spring full of tasty water – a nice sight in otherwise dry area. I made it to my second sleeping spot choice, St. Christopher Chapel crossroad, with a tourist shelter for possible cooking. I put up my tent, just in time for the rain to start. Fortunately, no thunder or lightning yet and the wind kept reasonable as well. I enjoyed the homemade pie and checked the weather forecast – yellow (low) warning for the area of possible occasional wind gusts and branch breaking. Well, let’s hope this possibility will remain just that. Since the forecast for the next day promised continuous rain as well, I decided a night in a hostel in Liberec may not be a bad idea. I found one, booked it (yay for smart phones and data plans), crawled into my sleeping bag and listened to the drumming of the rain.

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St. Christopher Chapel crossroad and tourist shelter


Day 7: Ještědsko-kozákovský hřbet
St. Christopher Chapel crossroad / tourist shelter to Liberec; map distance 13 km (GPS tracker 14.8 km)

The rain lightened up a little bit in the morning, even stopped for a little bit, as I was packing. But still, the tent was pretty soaked. Fog was lying around, making the forest feel mysterious and moody (in a good way). The fog was a little bit of a concern as I didn’t know how the ridge path up to Ještěd’s summit looked like. But I could see at least two or three waymarks ahead of me and the visibility seemed to remain about the same, so I should be OK. The rain came back as I headed out and cold wind joined it. But I actually enjoyed the weather. Somehow it felt like it was appropriate for the mountains and the moment. After a while of walking completely alone in the woods, I ran into a land surveyor, who assured me that even in a thicker fog that we had at that moment, I could not miss or step out of the road to Ještěd’s summit. But, as he added sadly, I won’t get any views today. So up, up, up I continued, soaked by the rain. Closer to Ještěd’s summit the wind picked up (ca 30km/h) and the temperature dropped to 11°C. And, as expected, no views from the summit (1012 m). Though the low-lying clouds, quickly passing by me were also impressive. I attempted to warm up in a buffet on the summit, but it was rather drafty. Still, it offered a brief reprieve from the strong wind outside and a hot tea and a hotdog. My attempt to dry up worked only partially, so I headed out again, in order to keep warm by walking. The wind eased up as I descended, and the temperature went up few degrees as well. The descent went quite well and rather quickly. On my way, I passed the 15th meridian east, and then came a muddy slope … and I slipped, folding my right leg under myself. Fortunately, I was able to slow the fall down thanks to my trekking poles and the crack I heard wasn’t my bone, just a branch under me. But my shin wasn’t completely pain free. I reached Ještěd’s base in Horní Hanychov, a Liberec neighbourhood, a tram to the city centre and a bus to my booked hostel and a warm shower and dry bed. As the weather forecast for the next day was rain again and I could definitely feel my shin, I decided that spending an easy day in the town might be a better alternative than heading back out to the mountains the next day. I was able to change my reservation to two nights (and got a better rate per night), so it was settled – a zero day in Liberec. I thoroughly enjoyed the hot shower and a lovely dinner chat with a family from the Netherlands, vacationing in my country, sharing experiences with hiking equipment and giving them recommendations for places to visit.

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Ještěd


Day 8: Liberec
A lovely, if somewhat rainy day in Liberec. What was supposed to be my zero day, turned into something like 15 km of meandering through the town. But without a fully loaded backpack, my feet and shin felt pretty good and I didn’t feel tired at all in the evening. First thing of business was to visit an outdoor equipment store to see about my broken tent pole. Yes, I will need to claim the warranty once I’m done with the hike, but my temporary fix was as good as could be. So, at least I knew I couldn’t do anything else, until I get back to Prague. And then the exploring started… Dr. E. Beneš’s Square and the City Hall, with a Neptune fountain, statues by Olbram Zoubek, one of our eminent sculptors, and a memorial to 9 town citizens killed during the Warsaw Pact troops invasion on August 21, 1968. Meandering north/east toward a park Lidové sady with a lookout tower with a very nice view of the city and Ještěd (when not hiding in clouds), Jizerské / Jizera Mountains on the opposite side, and the Liberec ZOO right next to it. Liberec is a lovely city, with good number of historical (mostly second half of the 19th and the early 20th century) buildings, mixed in with modern ones. Liberec chateau, near the center, seems to be temporarily closed, but its small garden is quite nice.

My tent and other things have thoroughly dried out during the day, so I could pack everything up in the evening and get ready for an early morning start. To see what was new in the world, I turned on the news in the evening …. a massive explosion in Port of Beirut …. as if Australia on fire and the Covid pandemic weren’t enough. I turned off the news and got ready for an early night…

Public transportation in Liberec is pretty good and offers an option to buy SMS / text message tickets with information on all stops.

E3: Czech Republic, days 4 – 8


Day 9: Jizerské / Jizera Mountains
Liberec to tourist shelter Předěl; map distance 24.5 km (GPS tracker 25.4 km)

Blue sky and sun, a cheerful start. I made my way back to Liberec ZOO, this time using the public transportation, and delved into the forest, following once again the E3 – red waymark toward Bedřichov. Forest roads and paths, slowly and steadily going up into the mountains. The forest has changed – less mixed, more conifer trees. Another change was water. Unlike the Lužické Mountains, Jizerské Mountains have plenty of water – streams, creeks, rivers. I must have been quite taken up by this change as I ended up with a lot of pictures and video shots of the streams… I saw more water sources in just few hours than in 3 days in Lužické Mountains.

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Bedřichov


In no time I was in Bedřichov (or its outskirts). A sport hub – full of mountain bikers, day hikers and in winter it would be full of skiers, namely cross-country ones. It was buzzing with visitors, yet it didn’t feel overcrowded. Bedřichov is also a home to Jizerská 50, a 50 km long cross-country ski race, which started in 1968. Since 1971, the race is run as a memorial to a Czech mountain-climbing expedition to Peru, which tragically ended on May 31st, 1970, when an earthquake of 7.5 – 7.9 degrees of the Richter scale hit the area and released an ice and rock avalanche from the northern wall of Huascaran. The avalanche buried the expedition base camp and destroyed 15 towns and villages in the area. Overall, the earthquake’s death toll climbed to over 70 000. A memorial to the expedition was build in Bedřichov in 2010, a mound from 6 granite stones, symbolically next to the Jizerská 50 route, as some of the expedition members participated in the early races as well.

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Expedition Peru 1970 Memorial


After a brief pause at the memorial, I headed out of the town, following a yellow waymark now. From here, many of the marked roads are also bike roads, so that meant a relatively easy and fast going, though steadily up hill. At Šámalova chata (a mountain hut) at Nová Louka, a mountain meadow, the waymark changed from yellow to blue and took me to a crossroad U Knejpy, where E3 rejoins the red waymark again. As I was getting higher, the trees were getting shorter, and the mountain tops and the path along their ridges offer more views of the surrounding areas. The red waymark took me to a crossroad for a climb to Jizera (1122 m), the second highest mountain of Jizerské Mountains (but only by 2m!). Trying to get to the very top with my backpack was a challenge and in two moments I needed an assistance from others. But the views were worth it! On the horizon, I could see Ještěd, no longer hiding in clouds (I saw it the day before I reached it and the day after I left Liberec – probably a due to the mountain gods = one mountain in the clouds with not views, another one on a sunny day with unlimited views?). I was very tempted to stay at the tourist shelter right under the summit and watch the sunset from here. But it was only 4 pm and staying here would mean 30+km tomorrow. And so, I left and continued for another 6 km to another tourist shelter at Předěl (“divide”). Several multi-day hikers came and went after I got there and at the end, I shared the shelter with another three of them, just comfortably fitting in. Clear night with moon and stars.

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Jizera (1122 m)


Day 10: Jizerské / Jizera Mountains
Tourist shelter Předěl to Harrachov / Czech-Polish border; map distance 24 km (GPS tracker 24.3 km)

A night at 889 m above the see level meant a chilly morning, though not really cold. I wondered what it was like at Jizera’s 1122m. I was the first up and enjoyed watching the sun appear from behind the trees. I took my time and relished my last morning in the mountains, sipping a cup of hot tea slowly. I headed out shortly before 9 am, first on bike roads, then on forest paths, in and out the trees. Soon the path changed to a natural board walk through Černá jezírka (Black Ponds), a part of a network of peat bogs and wetlands in Jizera Mountains. Back on a forest path, continuing the ridge path toward Pytlácké kameny / Poacher`s Rocks (975 m) and Jelení Stráň (1018 m), my last mountain peak on this trip. With the lower trees, I had beautiful views of the surrounding area for most of the road. I lingered a little bit at Jelení Stráň, taking in the views, before starting my descent to Jizerka, a small mountain village filled with restaurants. The houses here, old and new, are kept in a similar style – wooden construction, nicely fitting into the surrounding nature. I stopped there for a quick lunch of fresh veggie salad and pear juice – a good source of energy on this hot, sunny day.

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morning at Předěl


30 minutes break was over quickly, and I was off again. Jizerka is a long village and it took a little bit of time to get through it and back into the forest. But from here the road was gently sloping down, following Jizera River’s current, mostly on a tarmac road above the river. I could hear the river all the time but see it only occasionally among the trees that started to get higher again. The tarmac wasn’t the easiest on my feet though. I turned onto a forest path again right before Martinské údolí / Martin’s Valley and after crossing Jizera River and passing through a small, autonomous territory of Hoftík, Lower Silesia. It seems, the territory consists of few houses along the river, with an inviting pub. After Hoftík, I had a last steep ascent to reach Harrachov train station. From here, it was about 1.5 km to the town Harrachov and ca 6 km to the Czech – Polish border, mostly on a road. I made my way through the town and the last 4 km to the border. My shin started to draw an attention to itself with sharp pain at this point, so I just set my teeth and reached the border around 3:15 pm. I snapped few pictures, did a victory dance (in my head only) and headed back to town to see if I’d be able to catch an afternoon train back to Prague. There is a campsite at the edge of Harrachov, which looked nice, so that was an option as well. But I made it back to town in time to get something to drink before a bus, that took me to the train station, came. I enjoyed the train ride to Prague with four ladies who were returning from their vacation in Jizera Mountains as well. Unlike me, they rented a cottage and did day hike trips in in the mountains. We had a lovely chat; they even shared a homemade cherry pie with me! With one train change in Tanvald, we made it to Prague around 8 pm.

IMG_1881.JPG
Pytlácké kameny / Poacher`s Rocks (975 m)

IMG_1906.JPG
Czech / Polish border near Harrachov


Helpful tips and information
CHKO = chráněná krajinná oblast = protected landscape area: bivouacking for one night (without a tent) is allowed here. The CHKO rangers might also tolerate a tarp or a tent, if they see you are cleaning after yourself and taking your garbage with you.

NP = národní park = national park: usually, national parks are also designated as “quiet zone,” which means the highest nature protection measures are enforced here – no bivouacking or camping, no open fire, including smoking. Here, you can walk only on officially waymarked paths. Don’t even try to bivouac here or leave the official paths. The fines are steep, it’s not worth it.

PR = přírodní rezervace = nature preserve / NPR = národní přírodní rezervace = national nature preserve: usually a smaller / local protected areas. They are usually established to protect regionally important flora and fauna. Bivouacking or camping is not allowed. Basically, the rules for national parks apply here.

Traildino description of E3: https://www.traildino.com/trace/continents-Europe/countries-European_Trails/trails-E3

Mapy.cz, E3 in the Czech Republic: https://en.mapy.cz/s/bubuhohamu

Děčín
https://www.idecin.cz/en/basic-info

CHKO Labské pískovce / Protected Landscape Area Elbe Sandstones
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elbe_Sandstone_Mountains

Elbe River Canyon
https://www.ceskesvycarsko.cz/en/node/314
https://blog.northernhikes.com/999/elbe-river-and-canyon/

NP České Švýcarsko / NP Bohemian Switzerland
https://www.npcs.cz/en
https://www.ceskesvycarsko.cz/en/ceske-svycarsko

Lužické hory / Lusatian Mountains
http://www.luzicke-hory.cz/luzang.html
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lusatian_Mountains

Ještědsko-Kozákovský hřbet / Ještěd-Kozákov Ridge
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Je%C5%A1t%C4%9Bd-Koz%C3%A1kov_Ridge

Liberec
https://www.visitliberec.eu/en/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liberec

Jizerské / Jizera Mountains
http://www.jizerske-hory.cz/en/jizera-mountains,%20http://www.jizerske-hory.cz/en/jizera-mountains_about-region
Jizerská 50: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jizersk%C3%A1_pades%C3%A1tka; history: https://issuu.com/jizerska50/docs/jiz50_historie.en
Expedition Peru 1970: https://jiz50.cz/en/cms.front.page/peru

Harrachov
http://info.harrachov.cz/en/

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LucieK


User avatar
Activity: Walker
Mountain: Ben Nevis
Place: Rannoch Moor and Kintail
Gear: hiking boots and pants
Member: none
Ideal day out: any day in the mountains

Munros: 2
Sub 2000: 3
Long Distance routes: West Highland Way    Affric Kintail Way   



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Statistics

2020

Trips: 1
Distance: 174 km

2019

Trips: 5
Distance: 272.3 km
Ascent: 1583m
Munros: 1

2018

Trips: 5
Distance: 71.9 km
Ascent: 1682m
Sub2000s: 1


Joined: Aug 23, 2018
Last visited: Apr 01, 2021
Total posts: 38 | Search posts