Hiking Petros and Hoverla in the Carpathian mountains, Ukraine:
Hoverla is Ukraine's highest mountain with 2061m. It is located remotely in the south - western corner of the country, not far from Romania. We decided to set up our base camp in Kvasy, a small mountain village with few guest houses and some shops to stock up on supplies. I mapped out some routes and decided to take the shortest one: About 21km, one way! A marathon trip return that would also lead me over the top of mount Petros (2020m).
I decided to take the bike as far as I could just like I did on Rysy about a week ago. This should be nice on the way back.
Right of the start I had to cross the river over one of those dodgy wooden hanging bridges, not much wider than half a meter. Immediately after it the terrain got very steep, muddy and rocky. I already regretted taking the bike but decided to press on. It had to get better. It didn't. And the terrain was so bad that I didn't even know how I would ride it down on my bike when coming back. In the map however I saw that I was coming closer to some sort of road. Perhaps I could cycle on from there. Eventually seeing 'the road' was devastating: A steep, washed out, muddy slope sprinkled with rocks. I decided to ditch the bike, hiding it in the undergrowth locked to a tree. I'd pick it up on my way back. So far it took about 90 minutes for just 2.5 km. I wasted a lot of time energy already but at least I have gained a good 450hm. As I walked on I felt the exhaustion from the previous cycling days and I realised that it will be very difficult to reach the peak of Hoverla. I was making good progress for the next 400hm which were at times flatter and easier to walk. From about 7km at about 1400hm the path was completely covered in thick, deep snow; very tough to walk, tiring and very slow. It was devastating as I started realising that I probably won't make it to Hoverla; I had to return the same way after all. Progress got very slow again and I think I only managed 1 km in the next hour. I already said good bye to the idea of reaching Hoverla and it didn't even look good that I would reach Petros, a 2020m high peak that I would cross an estimated 7km before reaching Hoverla. I decided not to be dragged down by this thought and to just do what I came here for: To enjoy hiking in the beautiful Carpathian mountains. After a good rest and some snacks I found new energy and motivation. The snow conditions improved and I was making good progress again. I still had to cross some snow fields but as the sun came out and mount Petros appeared on the horizon it got much easier. 5.5 hours after the start I reached the top of Petros. 17km and 1500hm I had walked so far. There was a cross and a little shelter on top. And there was a freezing wind. I could see Hoverla. According to a sign post it was 9km and 4 hours of hiking away. I estimated that it would take me at least 3 hours in the given conditions to descent the back of Petros and walk up Hoverla. I didn't have enough time to do that AND walk back to Kvasy; and I didn't bring bivouac equipment. I was very happy though to be on Petros, the views were magnificent, it was a very tough but rewarding trek. And I didn't see another person in the mountains the whole day. I didn't see bears either although I have been told that there are many and I have been looking for them all day long.
Hiking down I eventually got to the spot where I hid my bike. I got to cycle down the path that I saw on the map. It was less steep and much longer than the way I came up. Still pretty steep though and with all the rocks and washed out edges very technical. I really enjoyed the 4km and 450hm downhill ride. After all I cycled until here with my mountain bike specifically for situations like this. After more than 9 hours I arrived back in our guest house being exhausted and happy from a great and adventurous day out in the Carpathian mountains.