Mist and Mushrooming

It's Wednesday, and as I walked up the three flights of stairs to the secondary wings, I felt with increased awareness the various muscles in my legs working to propel me forward and upward.  At first I thought of the salsa dancing on the previous night, but quickly knew the real culprit: a 30 km (18.6 mile) hike on Sunday.  I'm not typically a Sunday hiker due to conflicts with church, but I've recently gained the friendship of a Seventh Day Adventist and an acquaintanceship with the circle around her.  So when she invited me to a worship event on Saturday and a 33-km hike on Sunday, it seemed too interesting to pass up.  Petra sent me a poster about the event (pictured below and left).  The text is quite cleverly written, my favourite part being the greeting to "enemies of boredom."  It also lists the various peaks included in the program.

33 km would make it the longest hike I've ever undertaken, and I couldn't resist.  So, Sunday morning I rose at 5:40, packed victuals and voda in my backpack and left my flat.  I was out the door at 5:58, knowing I needed to catch a 6:02 tram.  So I ran with backpack and hiking boots the 750 m to the tram stop, and caught it with a minute or so to catch my breath--though the burning in my lungs lasted the 15-minute ride to her neighborhood.  The city was hushed, and the few people on the trams looked like they were coming home from nights in the pub.

It seemed a bit strange to be ringing Petra and Petr's flat at 6:20 in the morning, but the glow from the upper story showed that they were awake, and the shrieks of their dog showed that Muf was ready to go.  Soon the three of us were joined by Ester, and with darkness still present to shroud us, we drove away.  I had previously checked trains to see about meeting at the rendezvous point that way, but to no avail.  The plan that Petr and Petra concocted was to drive to Frenštát pod Radhoštěm then take a bus and hike to the group.  So, a car ride and two bus rides later, we stood as a group of about 15, the darkness having left, but a mist prevailing.  It was nearing 9 AM when we started our hike, and at 9:02 I took the following photo of Petra:

We had hardly started, and she had already spotted her first mushrooms of the day.  Mushrooming is a popular pastime here in the Czech, evidenced by the presence of mushrooms in almost any illustration in any children's book.  We passed red, yellow, and spotted-mushrooms.  They looked extra ethereal with the surrounding moisture and mist.

Some might say the weather wasn't ideal for such a long hike, but I decidedly disagree.  The mist left a sheen on all the fallen brown leaves, turning them to bronze.  The forest took on a fairytale air, disguising everything before us.  Petra, perhaps the most optimistic Czech I knew, was in good cheer and had great fortune finding mushrooms along the way.

The mushrooming proved a nice activity in the semi-frequent stops when maps, GPS devices, and ipads were consulted for direction.  I was humoured by the modern spin on our hike, and was always thankful for a moment to capture the mystery around in photo.

While hiking, we went on some peaks that were familiar, including Pustevny and Radhošt'.  My last trip, as lovely as it was, was pretty light on the hiking.  So, this time I hiked up properly, and after an extended stop for garlic soup, we walked over for the stereotypical photo with the Pagan god Radegast (namesake of the local [and tasty] brew):

Then, in the hallowing mist, we walked to the statue and chapel of Cyril and Methodius, the two men who brought knowledge of Jesus to this country and who also were responsible for helping bring a written script to Czech and other eastern European languages.

Then we veered from our original plan, (cutting of a whopping 3 km) and decided to walk to Frenštát pod Radhoštěm, where the car was.  So, through the woods we went again, now weeded down from our group of 15 to just the original 4+Muf.  Though my back now ached, and the sun began to recede, I was still thankful for the exertion, for the budding friendships, and the ever-growing friendships.  At 7 PM, churchbells greeted us in Frenštát pod Radhoštěm, and with a satisfying ache in our bones, we drove--once again covered in night--back to Ostrava for a well-earned sleep.


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