Despite I already visited Šumava, it was many years ago and it was never pure hiking. Thus I decided to utilize the Czech public holiday at the beginning of July to walk a significant part of the Šumava mountain range.

It took as four days, we started off in Kašperské Hory where we arrived by bus, we finished in Nová Pec and went back by a direct train to Prague. The daily walked distances were: 21.3 km, 29.5 km, 28.3 km and 7.3 km. 86.4 km in total, highest point was the peak of Plechý (1378 meters above sea level). The weather was mostly warm (~26°C), just one day there were light showers in the morning and later a thunderstorm at night.

Practicals

  • Šumava is easily accessible by bus or train. There are several stations under the hills and you can also get right in the middle where is Nové Údolí station it terminates the Czech railway.
  • There are many hotels, pensions or huts where you can find accommodation, food and water.
  • There is dense network of hiking and cycling paths in Šumava.
  • Despite it is a national park, you can legally overnight in the wild at special places in comfortable distance from each other. There are outhouses, but no water source or dust bins. There is place for 10–20 tents and if it is nice weather or public holiday some sites can be quite packed (as happened to us).

Natural sights

  • Three countries border point: Czechia, Austria and Germany.
  • Picturesque Plešné lake, it is a remnant of a former iceberg, you can walk the moraine and the stone field.
  • Mostly spruces (Picea abies), somewhere beeches (g. Fagus) I was surprised with Sorbus plants.
  • There are many areas with dead trees because of bark beetles and wind exposition. It is deliberately kept this way so that you can see how a “natural” forest looks like.
  • There is a border between North and Black sea drainage basins which we crossed.
  • Alpine outlook, in theory and we could actually see the dark contours of the Alps.
  • Riverbed of the Vydra river, large round boulders. It seems it can host much larger flow, it is probably carved by spring snowmelts. (And some waters are actually drained to the Vchynicko-Tetínský canal.)

Manmade sights

  • Schwarezenberg canal
    • A water channel built throughout 18th and 19th century to enable floating wood from regional forests, mainly as a fuel for Vienna.
    • Interestingly, it takes waters from Vltava basin to Danube basin.
    • Average decline is as low as 2 thousandths, so the channel appears to flow up the hill at places.
    • At the height of production it employed staff of 800 to push the logs through.
  • Fountain in Kašperské Hory
    • We witnessed an interesting mode in the mountain in the main square.
    • There was a central nozzle squirting water upwards, its mouth was at such a height that the maximum amplitude covered it (and the water flow powered the wave) and when there was the minimum amplitude falling water again added energy to the wave.
    • We waited some time (at least 2 minutes but in total ~5 minutes) and this configuration seemed quite stable.

Figure 1

People

  • The original inhabitants were settlers who came to Šumava to process wood. Many villages were founded in 18th century. The population was mostly German speaking (both Bayern and Austrian dialects) and was subject of Beneš decrees after WW II.
  • Some villages were repopulated from Czechoslovakia inland after the war but that was just temporary as the military came to the region to guard the Iron curtain. To make the border less penetrable, remains of the villages were destroyed/eradicated not to provide shelter for illegal migrants.
  • We also met various interesting people:
    • true tramp(s)
      • Carrying enough beer to make random lady drunk and then let his son turn him in under well-built shelter. And be fresh in the morning to continue the journey.
    • true patriot
      • Everything green, khaki or camo. Using army-certified equipment only.
      • Strictly obey rules, be gentle to girlfriend and talkative to us.
      • We thought he was a nazi but we were deceived by the looks, a really nice guy.
    • I-know-everything guys
      • Them: Do you know what is the name of the hill over there?
      • Random guy: (hesitantly) Schachtel transmitter?
      • Them: You can’t be more wrong. No way!
      • (after looking in the map)
      • Them: Seidel, of course! I said it since the beginning.
    • metrosexual pair
      • Two very perfumed and groomed guys who somehow managed to climb to Třístoličník.
    • early birds guys
      • We never saw them. In the evening they were already in the tent and in the morning they were en-route already.
    • MFF pair, random pair with coffee
    • bath-seeking lonely traveler
  • authors
    • Karel Klostermann
    • Adalbert Stifter

Random thoughts

  • electric bicycle, even kick-scooters
  • border stones mystery
  • delimiting walls
  • great road in Strážný (and a brothel)
  • population density doesn’t take into account tourists
  • old houses/ruins labels (by grandchildren of original inhabitants)