The day has come! The clock showed 10 AM when I was parking the car at the guarded yard at the Wyszyńskiego and Sienkiewicza streets crossing. The price for leaving a car for 3 weeks was very decent (200 PLN) and probably could have been negotiated even more but somehow due to all this hassle with COVID-19 and lack of tourists, it didn’t seem right to discuss it further.
Route: Świeradów Zdrój to Szklarska Poręba
Distance: ~ 26 km
The backpack seemed to be heavy, but at that time I didn’t know that after a few kilometres it would seem much too heavy. Maybe because I was just in a good mood, chatting with my hiking mate Taito and not thinking enough about the things that I don’t need and can be left in a trunk.
Taito wasn’t joining me for the full hike, just for a week or so. However, his backpack was pretty heavy too so I guess we both made mistakes that we would need to pay for during the next couple of days.
Świeradów Zdrój looks like a typical Polish spa. There are several holiday houses hosting patients on a few weeks stays as well as private tourists coming independently to try treatments, taste mineral waters and relax on mountain tracks. Getting a drink isn’t a bad idea. Maybe it will boost your energy level on the first uphill stage ?
The red track starts just a short walk down the Wyszyńskiego street. Yes, red would be the desired colour for the next several days. Painted on the trees, stones, branches or simply direction boards. Every glimpse of it would bring me a wide smile and satisfaction.
Our final destination for today was Szklarska Poręba ~ 6 – 6.5 hours away. The nearest point of interest was much closer though: PTTK Hut “Na Stogu Izerskim”. Less than 5 km walk (1 hour 30 min away) but all the way is uphill giving a decent warm-up at the start of the adventure.
The first fragment of the track isn’t particularly interesting as we were gaining elevation following an asphalt road. After approximately 4 kilometres, the path turns left and the final steep push towards PTTK Hut “Na Stogu Izerskim” begins. From time to time I had to stop and caught my breath. Luckily, the way up was worth the effort and surrounding views kept my camera busy.
Finally, we reached upper gondola’s station and PTTK Hut “Na Stogu Izerskim” (1060 m a.s.l.) was just around the corner. Hassle (and sweat) free accessibility makes that area very popular, at some times even crowded. Anyway, it was coffee time!
There is something magical about preparing and drinking coffee in places like that one. Even the worst mud tastes like heaven.
The building was constructed in 1924 and at first, it was a private residence of doctor Josef Siebelt. After World War II, it was refurbished into mountain shelter for tourists and it remains one until today.
From the hut, the track becomes much flatter and continues ~ 5 km towards Polana Izerska and then ~ 3 km to Wet Pass (Mokra Przełęcz). From there, climbing for ~ 2.5 km first to Crossroads under Kopa (Rozdroże pod Kopą) and then to Sine Skałki (1122 m a.s.l.). Afterwards, the track descents ~ 5 km towards Zwalisko, passing by Quartz Mine which is worth to have a quick look. Zwalisko is not less interesting either. First of all, here your covered distance should already be around 20 km. Secondly, there is the legend connected with one of the rock formations – Evening Castle (Wieczorny Zamek).
Once in a year, in the midsummer night, the rocks take the shape of the castle and magic door let the brave people inside. And it’s worth it as the castle is filled with treasure. Everyone going inside is allowed to take as much gold as he or she is able to carry out. On one of these nights, the woman with a child noticed the opened door and went inside. She took so many treasures that at first didn’t even notice her young kid staying behind. Finally, the door closed, trapping him inside. The woman was devastated and kept coming to the place every other night hoping for the door to appear again. After the year, she saw the door and rushed inside hopelessly looking for a body of her kid. How surprised she was seeing the kid all fine playing with a golden apple. She quickly grabbed his hand and left the place leaving the treasures behind.
Does it sound like a good life lesson about greediness? I bet it does.
From Zwalisko it is ~ 3 km to the High Stone Hut (Schronisko Wysoki Kamień) which provides magnificent views over Karkonosze Mountains and is a popular spot for couples coming from Szklarska Poręba to see the sunset.
The last stage of that day was ~ 3.5 km steep descent towards the city. We spent the night in Skalny Pensjonat which I can fully recommend. It was a fair compromise between quality and price, though getting there was quite off the red track and made me cover extra kilometres.
The first day of the hike was challenging and we both could feel that bodies need time to adjust to all-day effort and carrying quite some weight. Around halfway, my feet were surprisingly good but shoulders were literally killing me. Every short stop to take a backpack off for some minutes was like long-awaited pleasure. On the other hand, it was exactly as I expected and I knew that every next day will be physically easier.
Please remember that the distance covered in that stage is only the description of my preferred itinerary. If that sounds too much for you, consider staying overnight in another place. Never underestimate the mountains.