Giant Mountains and the Elbe river spring in a wheelchair

Human being learns something new his whole life. Thank to being involved in the Disway project as members of the mapping team, we realized with my mom that there is an accessible bus from my hometown Harrachov to well-known Zlaté návrší (Golden Heights). It´s close to Vrbatova bouda (Vrbata Hut) and also the Hanč and Vrbata Monument.

It was supposed to be sunny. Why not to go on a trip. A bus driver unfolded a ramp that can carry weight up to 350 kg. For my small battery powered wheelchair – no problem. Let´s go!

It took about two hours to arrive at the place. We could enjoy the views of the mountains as soon as we got out of the bus. We wanted to visit Vrbata hut first. It stands there since 1964 and it got its name after Václav Vrbata, who died when trying to save his friend Bohumil Hanč.

It was bit of mystery to us how to get to the hut. I had to overcome a wooden walk path with help of my mom first. Question then was how to get inside. It seemed that the hut goes through some serious reconstruction. Able-bodied visitors walked over the terrace not accessible to disabled. What a surprise it was to find out that the main (winter) entrance, which the staff opened.

There was another surprise for us – an accessible toilet. We forgot our Eurokey at home. The staff has one, but they are reluctant to lend it, because visitors „walked away“ with the key three times. The man let us in at last.

We saw the famous Hanč and Vrbata Monument built up the hill in 1925. It commemorates a tragic event, when vagaries of weather took lives of two friends during 50 km long cross country race. It happened on 24th March 1913. This day is celebrated as the Day of the Mountain Rescue Squad. I tried to get to the monument via unpaved road as close as possible, but the water drainage system crossing the road was to deep to overcome. My mom went to take a picture of Hanč and Vrbata Monument without me.

Let´s go back the tarmac road and go to the road-fork called U Čtyř pánů. You can enjoy the views of the natural gems of the Giant Mountains. The Elbe river Spring is a stone's throw from here about 2 km. The tarmac road changes to the unpaved road with water drainage system, which is no problem to cross on one side or the other. The place around the Elbe river Spring is paved by plain stones, bit difficult for a wheelchair. It is possible to go over them, but be careful and slow down. There is 26 coats of arms of cities the Elbe river flows through on it´s way to the sea.

We continued to the Elbe hut. We had to pass by stones almost at the end of the unpaved road. Last 50 m were covered by more and more stones. We advice you to be careful and slow down..

The modern look of this building comes from 1975 and emotions still arouse. Many people think it architectonically doesn´t fit into the surrounding area. It serves as the accommodation, but the rooms are upstairs and not accessible.

The restaurant is spacious enough for a wheelchair to maneuver. The entrance with two-winged door was opened wide for people to pour in and out. It wasn´t problem to move around even by a big dog. You can find a suitable table you can get under with a wheelchair. There were ordinary picnic tables outside not so comfortable for a wheelchair.

After our refreshing pause, we were meditating how to get back to the tarmac road leading back to the U Čtyř pánů fork-road from the Elbe hut. We saw a road for supplies service, but staff said, „Sorry, possible to go by a elevator, but there are few steps by the ramp. We had to go on the pathway made of plain stones as everybody else. It was possible, but look where you go. Be careful at the end of the pathway.

You can set speed on as you wish on the road and continue along the tourist signs from fork-road U Čtyř pánu to Vrbata hut at Golden Heights, where is the bus stop.

This all day trip from Harrachov to Golden Heights and to the Elbe river Spring and the Elbe hut was a pleasant accessible surprise. But we can recommend this to wheelchair users, but take a companion with you. The way can be more difficult thank to drainage system and stones.