Wednesday, 18 August 2010


I spoke a few posts ago about the kids clubs one sees on the little train, but there is another group which one can also observe on the train at this time of year - the hikers.

These are not the typical British hikers out for a nice walk in the country. These are seriously outdoor adventurers. They are young people of both sexes in their late teens and early twenties arriving with rucksacks for a few days in the country. The idea is to get back to nature, camp under the stars or the forest canopy, sing traditional songs (which their parents would have sung before them) around a campfire, eat sausages and drink beer, before climbing back on the train to travel back to modern life.

However these are considered wimps and diletantes by the serious Czech hiker. He (and it usually is a he) often sits on his own in the corner of the train carriage ignoring the others. He is dressed in ex-army camouflage, army boots, and a bandana round his neck. Around his waist is a large leather belt together with knife in a sheath and a kharki water bottle. He may not have even a rucksack and almost certainly won't have a tent or sleeping bag - he will be sleeping on the hard ground under the stars. You can almost hear him say "Rain, what's a little rain? That's nothing; when I did my military service..." He's off to the obscurer and wilder parts of the Sumava. But like the others, one suspects, he will be back to his ordinary life and job come Monday, having fed something important in his Czech soul.

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