Skiing in the Eagle Mountains
There is only a three-bed pension (as far as we could tell) in Pěčín, according to the town's webpage. They don't seem to expect guests since we didn't see a single sign in the entire village with the word "pension." I guess it doesn't need a sign. You either know where it is and can stay there, or you don't. So after driving through the village on Tuesday night, we continued to Rokytnice v Orlických horách, a larger village down the road.
Fortunately this was a destination for skiers. Pěčín (and Rokytnice) are at the southern edge of a national nature reserve of the Eagle Mountains, designated in 1969. The reserve is on the Czech-Polish border and is intended to preserve the unique wildlife and ecosystems. The mountains are beautiful and many groomed ski trails are available for skiers who care to find them. This meant that there were a few pensions in Rokytnice. We stopped at Rampušák, the first one we saw on the village square. It is named after a legendary wanderer from the area – he was depicted in the 'lobby' as a bearded, pipe-smoking, felt-overcoat-wearing wildman. We were greeted by a very nice hostess and host who said we could stay the night, breakfast included!! We ended up staying two nights—the bathrooms had heated floors and the breakfasts were hearty, who could say no?
We departed from pension Rampušák on Wednesday morning with the intent to rent skis and tour the area on our own. We rented skis at a little sports store down the street. Then we climbed the village ski hill (a very short one) to find the groomed ski trail at the top. Everything was in dense fog. There is a curious and dramatic phenomena of inversion weather here, which has plunged the lower elevations here in fog for the last few days. Fortunately, the fog cleared to reveal gorgeous vistas of the surrounding mountains once we reached about 650 meters above sea level.
I didn't keep track of the exact statistics, but my estimates indicate that we undertook a demanding ski. We went at least 15 kilometers, probably more. In the course of the day we went up at least 400 meters in elevation – Rokytnice is at about 550 meters above sea level (in the foothills of the mountains), and the pass below Anenský vrch (the highest point we reached) was about elevation 950. We saw about ten World War II-era pillboxes and border-guarding posts (probably built by interwar Czechoslovakia and used by the Germans). We were accosted by inebriated Czech youths who were hiking on the ski trail, but we escaped with only one or two required shots of slivovice.
Other winter activity of late includes: Julia's mention of her New Year's resolution to attempt winter sports and report on ice-skating; the unsuccessful "ski" trip with Karla to Ždár nad Sázavou.