Wielka Sowa night ride
Building on the success of last week's first edition on Ślęża, Wojciech organized the second night ride to the top of Wielka Sowa, encouraged by the weather that hadn't changed much (still very dry), combined with a full moon under a forecasted clear sky.
Perhaps due to the increased remoteness of the goal (one and half hour driving) and the much colder temperatures, less people attended the event: we were only five at the car park of Sokolec, the southern trailhead of the mountain, at 7pm on Thursday before the long week-end. But a more homogenous group of five bikers determined to conquer the top and fulfill this crazy goal !
The chosen route was also meant to provide an easier ride than Ślęża with longer portions of flatter and less stony forestry tracks. We left Wroclaw with Wojciech's car and picked Michał on the way, a lucky owner of a carbon Specialized Epic with 29' wheels. We later met Janusz and an older friend of him who came in their landrover.
Once at Sokolec, the sky wasn't as clear as expected. It had been foggy all day in the city and we were kind of at the cloud level in Sokolec. A furious wind was generating a kind of foehn effect that allowed the full moon to shine from time to time. But combined with temperatures near zero, that was really painful. I regretted immediately not having taken warmer clothes and our fingers became almost insensitive during the only unpacking of the bikes. The feeling was worsened by the gloomy aspect of mountains at night, enhanced by the ongoing atmospheric conditions...
Fortunately, the start of the trail was excessively steep, so we quickly warmed up. We passed the first hut "Schronisko Orzeł" and the second, Schronisko pod Wielką Sową, barely illuminated by the only hut-keeper's room, who must feel quite lonely during such days...
Thanks to a hairpin trajectory, we gained most of the height on fairly flat trails, and soon reached the flat part of the summit dome. Then the gloomy light of the summit tower appeared in the fog, through the wooden gates. Surrealistic sight !
Trees were white of horizontal frost deposit from the cold breeze. After few photos, we sheltered under the wooden roof, ate a bit and headed for the way down. Most of it was done the same way. By some luck, a gust of wind revealed a large portion of clear sky and the full moon illuminated the whole landscape. Countless stars as well as the Milky Way were amazingly visible, without the slightest light pollution. We could almost see the trail without our headlamps, negotiating all curves of the descent. Fairy like moment ! Thanks to our homogenous level and condition, the group remained united all ride long without having to wait for anyone. All lamps focused on the same bits of trail provided a pleasant feeling of achieved team job.
But the end of the ride quickly came and time for loading back the steeds, that was promptly done, making the most of the few moments of being still warm from the effort. We were back in Wroclaw around midnight.
"Shall we repeat it somewhere higher once more before the very end of the season ?" Wojciech Michał and myself asked ourselves, freezing in the street after unloading Michał's bike... Well, perhaps next year, when it gets warmer again !!