The Giant Mountains (Riesengebirge) brought up vague childhood memories of a mountain spirit called Rübezahl and they definitely cast their spell on us. We didn’t meet Rübezahl – or at least we didn’t recognise him – but we are enchanted by the beautiful mountain panorama with alpine vegetation around the highest peak Śnieżka (Schneekoppe) and outstanding granite formation along the mountain pass towards Śnieżne Kotły (Schneegruben), deep, roundish pits formed by glaciers. This mountain range stretches East to West along north of the Czech Republic and the south-west of Poland with beautiful scenery and landscapes that remind more of Scotland or Scandinavia than the Alps. The harsh continental climate effects also the vegetation. The tree line is only at 1250-1350 meters and is followed by a sub-alpine vegetation zone with knee timber, mat-grass meadows and subarctic high moors. Along the ridges there are many weathered blocks of granite which look like sculptures or even statues – very charming.

Hiking in the Giant Mountains in pictures – for references and route follow numbers of the 36 pictures on maps below.

Yoeri and I enjoyed the luxury that our longtime friend Kati who grew up in Jelenia Góra in the valley below and has been hiking in Karkonosze (Giant Mountains) countless times organised everything from transport, to overnight stays, routes and great additional hiking company with Kerstin. If Kati ever starts a travel business I happily rate her 5* and send her all interested parties.

It took me more than 10 years to finally go hiking with Kati in Poland. Hopefully we are able to put together another trip before another 10 years pass by. In any case, it was lovely to be out and about so much and it is very interesting to see how quickly even ocean creatures like us can build up a bit of stamina in the mountains; and not just any mountains „Giant Mountains“ after all (for German readers: Zwei Wasserratten in den Bergen).

Travel route: Train RE2 from Berlin Ostkreuz to Cottbus (Berlin-Brandenburg-Ticket) and train RB65 from Cottbus to Görlitz (Sachsen-Ticket), then we got picked up by car which is the quickest option to get to Jelenia Gora and/or Karpacz where lots of the hiking trails start. Take a look at the map, search online, go and look for Rübezahl (Polish: Liczyrzepa, Czech: Krakonoš) – be it on the Polish or the Czech side of this enchanting mountain range.

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