|Date||Sunday 19 November 2006|
|Distance stage||50,0 km|
|Distance acum.||2184,5 km|
|Quality of signs||Good|
|Quality of the hike||C (good): hills, trees and fog|
Today is the third day of my four-day hiking trip. I get up very early in the morning and leave at 4.00am.
I want to start as early as I can because I have a long day ahead of me. And it’s an exciting one: I will be going to the Czech Republik for the first time in my life! First I cross Brezova in the dark early morning hours. The signs are well placed and with the street lights and my own head light it is simple to follow them through the village. After the village the Trail goes up the hill Bradlo, and crosses a meadow first. The map shows that at some point I must leave the meadow and go to the right into the forrest. This is not clearly marked and I loose some time there taking the wrong path. Once back on the dark track I manage my way through the forrest and up the hill all right. Just below the top of the hill there are some tourist facilities (skilift, snackbar, parking lot). The daylight is starting to show up as I make my way down the hill, going north. My feet are hurting a little bit, due to some blisters, and it gets easier when I pass the village of Polianka, as the Trail follows here the main road. After the village the Trail splits into a country road. On the map I can see that both the main road and the country road are heading for the city of Myjava. The concrete of the main road will be easier for my feet, but I decide to be strict and follow the signs onto the country road. Two kilometers further the road enters into Myjava, near a gasstation. I buy some refreshments and some chocolate bars. It is Sunday morning and I do not expect to come along another point of sale today. Myjava is more modern than I expected, there are even western supermarkets. There even opened on Sunday!
Leaving Myjava the Trail goes up the hill. Once out of the city the last descent for the final climb is done, and then the Trail is heading straight north, to the top of the Velka Javorina hill, to Czech. The weather is very nice. The sun is shining, and there’s no wind. The climb up the hill is not exciting, but long. There are a few other people on their way, Sunday tourists. A few kilometers before the top of the Velka Javorina hill the Trail starts following the Czech/Slovakian border. There is a corridor along the border straight through the forrest of approximately 10 meters wide. Every 50 meters or so there are small signpoles that indicate the border between the two countries. Just before arriving on top of the hill I pass a mountain refuge. It is closed for business due to reconstruction. The new owner is working to get the building ready for the winterseason. His father-in-law is helping him out. He turns out to be Austrian, and he tells me he is not confident in his son-in-law’s activities. “Not as much tourists as in Austria, not as much snow in the winter as in Austria”, he tells me. In a few minutes I walk up to the top of the hill. It is covered in fog, of course.
From the top of the hill I will enter Czech, but it takes me some time before I see where to go, as the signs are not clear. *(see comment below). Once I am on the right way, the signs apear again. A few minutes later a man comes in the opposite direction out of Czech on his way to Slovakia. He asks where I come from and where I go to. We chat a little bit and he offers me a piece of apfelstrudel, which tastes great. After we have split up and continued both our own way I wonder if it was Czech or Slovakian apfelstrudel that I have been eating. Further down the hill the weather gets better and the visibility improves. The next kilometers are not exciting. The Trail followes the main ridge of a small hill group named the Lopenicka Hills. Here and there I have a nice overview of the valley with some small villages. Unfortunately, the twilight sets in when I still have to cover a few kilometers to the next place of civilization, where some hotels and pensions are situated. I see no other option than to put on my headlight again, and make my way along the trail. The signs are pretty good, but the forrest road is here and there in very poor quality due to recent maintenance of the forrests. It is 7.10pm when I leave the forrest and enter the main road in Mechnac.
It is extremely dark here. There’s no street lights, no traffic, no buildings are lit, there is really nothing to see when I switch off my headlight. The hotels that I had found on the internet are situated on the main road in this small and widely spread village. I walk up and down a few times to check them out but they appear all to be closed outside the tourist season. I am considering my options, as the nearest location where the Trail is passing is the village Mikulcin Vrch, but that’s another 4 kilometers up the hill. While standing there in the middle of nowhere all of a sudden I am standing in the headlights of a car that is parked only 10 meters away from me. I have not seen it at all! I walk towards the car and see that it is a police car. It is probabely parked here to be located centrally in a big region, that it is supposed to cover. I explain to the policemen where I come from and that I am looking for a place to stay for the night. The police officers discuss briefly and then tell me to get in the car. They drive a few kilometers in the other direction from where I will be going tomorrow, which does not make me feel easy, but I need a place to sleep and I will not find it myself in these ouskirts of the Czech Republic. After ten minutes we arrive at an inn, but it is closed. The policemen discuss again, also with the police station on their radio. They turn the car and drive back to where we came from, and then continue up the hill to Mikulcin Vrch, further up the E8. It is not even a village, it is a wide spread collection of small hotels and inns, and they are all closed. The policemen drive to an inn in the back of the main road where only one small light is lit outside. They ring the door bell and explain to the owner of the place what I need. They tell me I am welcome in the inn and whish me luck. I thank them for their assistance and I am glad my day is over. The owner of the inn tells me, in some German words, that today the inn was closed but that I can stay for the night. A great day has come to an end. I met three times people here in this new country, and all of them have been friendly and helpfull.
* comment: When the E8 was mapped in 1986 the Trail was crossing one country in this part of Europe: Czechoslovakia. Due to the decision of the people in Czechoslavkia the country was split up in 1993 in two: Czech and Slovakia. It was like that for many centuries before the 20th century. It turned out that of the approximately 700 kilometers between the Austrian border near Vienna, and the south of Poland there were only 46 kilometers in the new Czech Republik, and the other 650 kilometers in Slovakia. Adjustments were made in the E8 to keep the Trail inside Slovakian borders completely. Nowadays the E8 goes from the top of the Velka Javorina to the southeast, back into Slovakia, to the city of Nove Mesto. From there the Trail leads to Trencin.