I bought a new pair of shoes in Budapest, but decided not to use them because the weather had been so poor. The hills north of Budapest were quite slick and muddy, and the mud combined with the constant soaking and drying tends to be very hard on shoe fabrics. I didn’t want to ruin my new shoes right away, so I kept them in my pack and tried to squeeze some more mileage out of my old shoes.
The weather for the first two days was good. It was sunny and nice, but the hills were slick with mud coated in the fallen Autumn leaves. I arrived in Visegrad on the shore of the Danube, and had to take a car ferry across the river to Nagymaros. With the looming sunset and the castle on the hill high above, it was a nice ride across the river. However, I was feeling a bit dizzy and ill, and I knew something wasn’t quite right. I had a stomach bug, and I ended up being fairly sick that night.
The next day, I was still not feeling very well. The weather changed dramatically, and it snowed most of the day. The weather forecast showed a significant snowstorm for the following day, so I decided to take an early rest day in Berkenye to get well and avoid the worst of the snowfall. This turned out to be the correct decision. It snowed about 10 to 12 cm, and the extra time gave me a chance to get well before pushing on in the snow. While the snow was beautiful, it signaled the arrival of winter and made for slow going through the hills on the dirt roads. I battled my way to Romhany, and stayed at a guesthouse across from the abandoned palace (Prónay-kastély).
The first big snow also signaled the start of boar hunting season. While walking on the dirt roads, you could see where the boars had rooted through the snow and leaves looking for food. I had to change my course slightly, as there were some hunters lined up along the road and I didn’t feel like being shot accidentally. Despite the slow walking, I arrived in Tereny just before sunset and stayed in a traditional house.
It snowed heavily the next day, as I picked my way through the hills to the UNESCO World Heritage village of Holloko. During this stretch, I slipped and fell on a patch of ice covering the pavement, and I landed squarely on my hip and arm. The fall was rather violent, and I stayed down for a few minutes while I assessed my extremities. Realizing that nothing was broken, I continued on despite the pain. I was limping heavily, and large knots quickly formed on the side of my arm and on my hip. I have a bum middle finger joint from an old injury, and I aggravated it by hyperextending that finger during the fall. The walking was further complicated by the trees and shrubs bending under the weight of the heavy snow. The branches were blocking the trail in some places, and I had to push through the, sometimes thorny, vegetation. The castle ruins and traditional white houses of Holloko looked amazing against the white, snowy backdrop. It was nice to see Holloko after a challenging day, and my arrival seemed to amuse some sledding children.
After briefly descending, I climbed back into the hills on my way to the ski village of Matraszentlazlo. The snow was deep in these hills, but in some ways I didn’t mind. It was soft powder, and the snowy forest looked like a winter wonderland. I arrived just before sunset, but was unable to find my guesthouse host. The host was not at the house, and they did not answer my calls or emails. I waited for a while, but it was dark, windy, and cold. Luckily, there was another guesthouse nearby, and the host gladly gave me a room. Crisis averted.
The sun returned in the morning, exposing the extent of the wintery beauty. This was also a day where I enjoyed walking in the snow. It was powdery, and there were people walking on the trail from the nearby Galyateto mountain hotel. It was a nice atmosphere as I made my way to a wellness hotel near the Matrahaza pass.
From Matrahaza the temperatures rebounded, but it was very windy on the descent down to Sirok. The exposed areas felt extremely cold due to wind chill, but the warmer temperatures meant melting snow. The lower hills became slushy and slick, and the logging roads became mud holes. By the time I reached Sirok, there was hardly any snow left in the valley. There were some nice castle ruins and rock formations on the way to Belapatfalva.
Ample snow remained in the hills outside of Malyinka and Tardona, and it was also foggy. The fog was dense, and it was a bit difficult to find the blue and white paint waymarking at times.
The guesthouse in Tardona was slaughtering two Mangalitsa pigs. This is a special Hungarian pig breed that has curly hair, like a sheep. When preparing the pigs for butchering, they burned off the hair using a gas torch. This is a special family event, with my host, his son, and two friends helping out. It was nice to see farm-to-table in action.
The final day into Putnok was wet, with the snow continuing to melt. There was a snow and mud mix on many of roads, and the weather was a rain/snow mix. I suffered a significant mishap when I slipped in the mud and fell into a rosehip bush. I was entangled in the thorny vines, as they snagged my rain poncho. I tried to free myself by untangling the vines and removing the poncho but was unsuccessful. My multi-tool was in my pack, so I could not get to it in order to cut myself free. I was left with no choice but to rip myself out. It worked, but also tore a series of large holes in my rain poncho. I had to repair the holes using kinesiology strapping tape, and hope that would hold until I could replace it.
Had a sunny, lazy rest day in Putnok. I was still bruised and hurting from the fall, and I needed to take stock after a rough weather week.
Walking days: 193
Total distance walked: 5458km (3391mi)