Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Kektura: Danube to Eger

Then the mud started... Although it had not rained for several days many trails were still a muddy desaster. Every Hungarian farmer seemed to be in the forest to harvest wood and the heavy vehicles had destroyed the trails. Sometimes grazing cattle had helped them....  I was more slipping and sliding than walking and was carrying an extra kilogram of weight on each shoe. On steep slopes the mud was downright dangerous. I don't want to describe how I and my clothes looked these days....

But there were creatures who definitely enjoy this kind of terrain. When I first saw these pigs I did not trust my eyes: Wooly pigs??? But Wikipedia taught me that I had not had an epiphany. These wooly pigs are called Mangalica and they are a Hungarian pig breed that is supposedly a delicacy of white meat with very little cholestorol. I cannot tell you more because I never had chance to try it. These robust beasts can live outside year round. I still wonder what you do with the wool....

These two gentlemen were a surprise encounter one foggy morning. One turned out to be a German hunter who comes to Hungary for many years to hunt deer, wild pigs and mufflons. I was not surprised: Every day I had seen wild life: dozens of deer including a very rare white Albino deer and several mufflons which look strangely out of place here..... Next to him is the Hungarian forester who confirmed what my guide book and Balazs had already told me: Wild camping is legal in Hungary - a fact that made my hiking life in Hungary really easy!

 Hiking was very beautiful now: the weather was sunny most days and I experienced an Indian summer. Almost all forest here is decidouos forest and the therefore the changing of the leaves was a colourful spectacle that reminded me a lot of the AT. I passed through the old village of Hollokö which is classified as UNESCO world heritage. Unfortunately, I did not see much of it because it was already dark when I arrived and still dark when I left in the morning. I had rented another holiday apartment there and the check in and check out process tells you much about Hungary. The owner called me to inquire when I would arrive. Because he would have left then already he left the apartment open and the key in the door. When he heard that I would have left in the morning before he could arrive for cleaning he told me to just leave the money on the table. We both did as promised... 

 I was now traversing the Matra mountains a very scenic little mountain range where Hungary's highest mountain is located: Kekes with 1014 m. I ascended on a long ski slope and was a bit disappointed with the rather unassuming summit. But there was a very touching little monument on top: This memorial for deceased motor cyclist who had died in motor bike accidents. Photos of smiling young men where everywhere - and several motorcycle helmets. Even when I was taking this picture of this sad place a couple on a motor bike approached to pay its last respects to the deceased.

I continued on and made the mistake to not set up camp in time. I ended up contouring around very steep mountain slopes in complete darkness - no flat spot for my tent whatsoever. Eventually I came to a view point where there was just enough flat space for my little tent. Very much relieved I set up camp and was rewarded with a gorgeous view and sunrise in the morning!

I continued in beautiful fall weather to my next rest day in Eger.

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