Jeseniky Traverse Day 1, Sobotin to Ovcarna
Jeseníky, mountain range in the uppermost part of Northern Moravia, home of the highest peaks of the region. It is also known for its kosodřevina (Mountain Pine), several areas of rašeliniště (peat bog), and in the winter skiers come to enjoy both downhill and cross country skiing.
Slopes above Sobotin
During the summer months tourism is popular here. Visitors come in hundreds. Areas like Ovčárna, Praděd or Švýcárna where the trails are generally easy are overcrowded, but even the harder routes see their fair share of traffic. For those seeking more solitude, fall might be more enjoyable season to visit. The days are colder and often windy but the displays of yellow and red autumn tones are worth the extra layer.
Our trip starts in Sobotín, one of the bigger villages around, where we park our car and follow the blue trail towards junction Na Skřítku, the official starting point of the Jeseníky Traverse. Our estimate of around 4 miles is way off, with all its twists and turns the stage is 7.5 km long. It’s an easy going trail, gently climbing through forests where the upcoming fall colors the foliage.
Rolling hills of Jeseniky Mountains
Arriving at the junction at around 13:00, 2 hours after we left Sobotín. We stop at a local motorest Skřítek (dwarf) for lunch, it’s not the best food, but it’s all right for quick energy replenishment here in the mountains. At 13:36 we are back on a trail.
After the initial shock of finding out the half point between here and our destination is still 11 kilometers far we realize the route we are suppose to take is marked green, not yellow and will get us to the same spot in 6 kilometers. And green we follow.
First view of Praded, the highest mountain of the range
Arriving at Ztracené Kameny (Lost Rocks) at 14:45 we take in first views of the surrounding forests and mountains. Comparing to the mountain ranges we are hiking in Washington State, Jeseníky with its highest point in just little over 1,400 meters could be called hills, but beautiful hills I have to say.
Jeseníky are known for their ridge runs. Not much vegetation grow in the higher elevations, except for a short pine like bush called kosodřevina or kleč (dwarf mountain pine) and thanks to the lack of tall trees, the ridges usually offer great views of the mountains nearby and into the valleys bellow where villages can be pointed out.
Typical ridge of Jeseniky Mountains
Soon after Jelení Studánka (Deer’s well) junction we hit our first ridge. We are now 6 km away from our destination. Kosodřevina lines the slope to our right, and behind the bushes we see down into the valley. Meadow runs along the left side of the trail. Wildflowers, and they are plentiful during spring and summer, are gone, the grass carries colors of fall. It is a beautiful walk with minimal elevation gain, and if it wasn’t for time pressing us, and strong wind blasting into our faces, I would suggest a break here to enjoy the views among which are those of Praděd, the highest mountain of the range which we’ll hike tomorrow.
Nearing the end of the ridge run
Hotel Figura where we are staying at looks deserted when we arrive at 17:15 after completing 19.5 kilometers. I try to call phone number posted on the door, nobody picks up. The wind is howling, we are freezing, contemplating our alternatives. Neighboring hotel Sabinka is also dark and shows no signs of life. We walk to Ovčárna, the most famous hotel in the area. They are fully booked but offer to call our hotel again, with better luck, and 10 minutes later we open the door to our warm room.
Cozy room in hotel Figura
We return to Ovčárna for dinner of kynuté knedlíky (fruit dumplings), řízek (schnitzel) and some winter warmer drinks from which warm egg nog with rum is our favorite.