The Bouda and My Arch-Enemy

Our chaletI seem to have a love hate relationship with inanimate objects. I have shoes that constantly reform themselves into implements of pedal torture. I have a pillow whose three feathers tickle my nostrils every night and a schizophrenic shower head which was clearly a Gestapo torture expert in a former life.

So, as I prepare to go to the Krkonoše Mountains for a holiday/English course it promises a reprieve from these little immobile monsters. Aside from that, a week at a mountain chalet, Moravská Bouda, teaching English and hiking acts as a meditative retreat from my daily life. The air is cool and clean; it is void of cars, trams, and (most importantly) questions like this: “How can you me fail Professor Damieleone, me you never saw?”

A week at Moravská Bouda means games, walks and drinking Becherovka with Papa Honza (see Thurs blog: Papa Yoda). I will forever remember it both as the place that gets eaten up by clouds and the place I met President Klaus. We hike to the Pramen Labe (the spring of the Elbe River), which at points is like traipsing through the rocky corridors of Mordor.

It is also the place of my yearly meeting with Můj starý nepřítel – My Old Enemy – Sněžka.

At 5,256 feet, Sněžka is the highest peak in the Czech Republic and gripe though I do about her, every time I go to the Krkonoše Mountains, I walk up her. Sněžka’s primary transgression is that she is up. And in most cases, up is my least favorite preposition.

Every approach to her is essentially the same. After climbing foot by foot out of a long heavily wooded valley, we walk along a vast plain, thankful for a flat expanse and no slippery rocks. And then, in the distance, she rears her head like one of Earth’s prolapsed hemorrhoids. From there, everyone in the party gears up for the painful climb up that hemorrhoid; and we are given no pretense of ease since she appears be vaulting violently out of the ground.

Though I have done the climb itself about ten times, I cannot recall one of those times. I have come to the conclusion that I go into some sort of stress-induced torpor which allows me to reach the top without bludgeoning a fit teenager with a rock or kicking a walking stick out from under an old man. At the top, there are usually about 3,203 people speaking Polish, German or Czech. There is a post office (what a route to have, eh?), and there is a small shop in which you can grab your ankles, bend over and buy a small chocolate ice-cream bar for 90Kč ($4.50).

From the onset of the week in the mountains, I will maintain not only my disinterest in going up Sněžka, but will offer a verbose regimen of refusals to do so. Still, as the group sets out in the early morning on the 24 Km hike, I am always there with stuffing my lunch into my rucksack, rubbing sun screen onto my nose and saying something like, “Eh, what the hell. Haven’t seen the old bitch in a year; wonder if she’s changed much.”

When we get to the top of her, when I am overwhelmed by a creeping feeling of accomplishment it starts raining and I raise my fist and (to the terror of my comrades) shout, “Damn you, Můj starý nepřítel!” Damn you, my old enemy! Then we walk the 12 Km home.

And when we get back to the Bouda that night, sweaty, dirty, tired, aching and more deserving of a beer than at any other time in the history of the world, I guess I know just why I did it again.

  1. #1 by Andy on July 2, 2012 - 6:42 pm

    God, those stairs are the thing of nightmares. Makes that end-of-the-day beer magical, though.

Comments are closed.