506 01 Jicin, Czechia
An Ultra Rocky RoadIt's amazing what several millions years can do, transforming buried sandstone into monoliths that pepper a landscape of plateaus, deep gorges and valleys. In the UNESCO protected Bohemian Paradise Geopark, hiking through the spruce forest that covers much of this area takes on a fanciful quality as I clamber up rough stone staircases, gaze out rocky windows, and duck through narrow tunnels and passages. In fact, at times I half expect to bump into Ents, the forest shepherds in Lord of the Rings. My path is lined with towers, some in isolation and others standing sentinel in clusters, trees blooming up top and sprouting from cracks along rugged rock faces. Each stony formation has a personality. How could they not, given their identifying names: Madonna, Corridor, Hawk and Slanted. Many towers are magnets for climbers who rappel or negotiate steep pitches while others rest on a flat summit before their descent. In the late afternoon, the forest cools down and I'm draped with a cloak of shadows before I slip into a narrow chute. On the other side, a sun-dappled woodland where narrow shafts of light splash sea green moss coating massive boulders.