As I’m writing this post, spring is blooming all over Vysočina. The earth is awakening and flower buds are sprouting, though it’s not long since the last few patches of snow left on the hills melted. Even so, I thought I’d be (just) in time to remember last winter around lake Velké Dářko, and share the white and the blue of its stunning wintery views.
I’m standing on the lake shore, camera in hand, ready to shoot. Today marks my fifth trip to Velké Dářko, and I know it won’t be the last.
Velké Dářko, around 10 km north of Žďár nad Sázavou, is the largest pond in the Vysočina region, so much so that it’s also known as Moře Vysočiny, ‘sea of Vysočina’. Though the lake is one, its colours and sounds are constantly changing, and every visit comes with new, unexpected views. Seasons are beautiful.
I’m close to the yacht club and the entrance to the nature trail (naučná stezka). I love this spot by the water pump. If I take a few steps down to the platform, I almost feel like I’m standing on water.
The lake is frozen, the black ice hidden below a thick layer of fresh, white snow. Only two weeks ago I was standing in this exact spot, and Velké Dářko was an icy expanse of iridescent blue. The snowy season had yet to begin. That day I bumped into a middle-aged runner along the trail. We chatted a bit, then I casually mentioned that I expected to find some snow around the lake. He told me it was too soon, and I’d have to wait.
‘Too soon’ was clearly over… soon, given the amount of fresh snow I’m treading on today. Candid heaps frame the main trail on both sides, while the trail itself is only partly accessible to ‘common’ pedestrians like me. Single files of cross-country skiers of all age tirelessly march past me in both directions, eyes fixed on some invisible spot ahead of them only they can see. Ski furrows have been specially dug all along the trail and they are only for skiers, as I’m promptly reminded (twice) when, at the very beginning of the trail, I accidentally step on the wrong ‘lane’. I quickly adjust to the new lane arrangement, and find my own ‘non-path’ at the very edge of the ‘ski’ trail.
I’m already quite close to Radostín, the tiny village at the opposite end of Velké Dářko, when I manage to (literally) get back on track. The ski lanes continue toward the village, so I hop off the trail to the shortcut through the open fields. I stop for a few seconds right in the middle of the field, and take a good look around. I feel like a tiny pencil dot in the middle of a white paper sheet. The snow has sucked up all the colours: I can barely tell where the sky ends and the lake begins.
I make it to the other side of the field, where I join the trail again. As I expected, I have it all to myself: on this side the trail is twisty and narrow – too ill-suited for skiing. About halfway down the route, suddenly the path is not marked anymore. The first couple of times I walked the full lap around the lake I got very lost at this point. Then I got better at it, but here I am, again, not sure whether I should keep right and continue by the shore, or head to the left, away from the lake toward the trees.
I hesitate, then resolve to walk along the shore. If I get lost, I might as well enjoy a few more lake views along the way.