Radegast winter trail




January 2011 • Canon Digital IXUS 100 IS

Trek stats

8km (4mi)

Distance (round trip)

Hard (Winter)

Level of difficulty

1,129 meters

Highest point

New Years day 2011. We decided to start the first day of the year by going on a winter hike. We headed to the Beskydy mountains to a famous trail that is open all year round: the Radegast nature trail. You start at Pustevny and the trail leads all the way to the chapel on Radhošt. Pustevny is a popular tourist center in the area. In the summer it is a starting point for hikers and in the winter it becomes a ski center. Pustevny gets in name from hermits (“poustevníci” in Czech) that used to live here in the 18th and 19th century. It was freezing cold today. We did not plan to go hiking on this trip to Czechia, so I was unprepared in terms of winter clothing.

With only my ski jacket and a jumper to keep my upper body warm, I was wearing jeans which offered no warmth to my lower body. Thick white snow surrounded us everywhere we turned. It was amazing to see the area I had visited in summer 2007 that was all green and colorful to be painted only white. It felt like I was in a different place. As we started on the trail I was pleasantly surprised to see so many people out here on New Years day. It seems the Czech people do like to hike no matter what the weather. As we walked, gusts of wind would blow from time to time. This made it feel more cold. The cold temperature was freezing my face which I could hardly feel. But it was so nice to look around. The trees decorated in white with big pockets of thick snow.

As we walked further along the trail the winds grew stronger. The way ahead was now hardly visible. The row of trees to the left and right of us lead ahead to a blank white space. The freezing weather had decorated the trees into works of art. Tree branches looked like tentacles reaching out.

We had now arrived to one of the famous points on this trail and where the trail got it's name—the statue of Radegast. Radegst is a Slavic pagan God of the Sun, hospitality and abundance. The stature has a male body with a Lion's head and helmet. With Radegast standing in the winter landscape it gives the area a mystical feel. In the past a lot of religious ceremonials took place on this mountain dedicated to Radegast.

Did you know...

According to legend, the missionaries Cyril and Methodius from Thessaloniki, visited the mountain in the 9th century. They had the Pagan Radgest stature knocked down. In it's place a cross was erected and became an important place of pilgrimage.

From here on in, the weather became like a blizzard. The howling winds blew snow everywhere. All we saw was white ahead of us. When we did come close to the trees and bushes they looked like frozen coral reefs. The winds were so strong it became a struggle to walk. On top of that it made the temperature freezing. My hands were frozen. I could hardly move my fingers to take any photos. But despite the freezing struggles it was an exhilarating feeling to battle the natural elements to reach our goal on top of the mountain Radhost, 1,129 meters above sea level.

At the top stood the wooden chapel of Cyril and Methodius. Designed by the architect Skibinsky and built in 1896–1898, it has a unique Dome to the country. The dome was a reminder to the Byzantine heritage of the saints Cyril and Methodius. When we arrived at the top we did not see anything. As I was turning around several times to spot the Chapel. Then all of a sudden it appeared in front of me giving me a shock—like a ghostly apparition appearing before me. A strong gust of wind had blown a gap between the snow and the chapel. It gave me such a fright it was something I still remember vividly till today. By this time the weather was telling all the hikers on the mountain top to go back down. We did not go into the chapel and made our way down the mountain in the snowy blizzard.

As we headed down from the mountain summit, the winds died down and ahead of us was suddenly visible. The beautiful white coloured trees lead a path back down to Pustevny. It was surprising to see we had frozen eye lashes and eye brows because of the cold. I can only imagine how cold Antarctica must be to visit. Pustevny has two famous wooden buildings dominating the place—"Maměnka and Libusin".

They were designed by Archetect Dusan Jurkovic and shows a typical Valasko and Slavic folk architecture. Maměnka is a hotel which you can book and Libusin is a restaurant which we went to have lunch after our exciting hike. The interior of Libusin is wonderfully decorated as the outside with frescoes and graffiti motifs of Wallachian and Slovak myths by Mikolas Ales. Pustveny also serves as a ski resort in the winter with ski lifts and pistes nearby. By the time we had finished lunch the bad weather had disappeared to reveal a gentle cold breeze in the air.

Final thoughts

Wow! What can I say... it was a wonderful and exciting day. Along with the wonderful white wonderland of the landscape, we had the added challenge of freezing weather and a mini blizzard to occupy us. I had visited Pustevny in the summer of 2007 but had not done the Radegast nature trail. I can imagine it would be nice to trek in better weather conditions, then what we had experienced. But you would not have seen the wonderful winter effects.

The trees and plants were beautiful decorated in the snow. If you plan on coming on a winter hike here makes sure you wrap up warm and bring gloves if you plan to take photos. I was in agony every time I wanted to take photos because the temperature was freezing my hands in for a couple of seconds.

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