Hungary Hike

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Cornfields in Pilisborosjenő.

In our brief time in Budapest, I’ve somehow found a nearby hike and gotten us on a bus to an area nearby where we can supposedly pick up the trail. We’re dropped off by the side of the road, where the whirlwind from passing cars buffets us every few seconds as we hike up to the trailhead. Then it’s through the woods, into the village of Pilisborosjenő, and up the hill to the summit Nagy-Kevély. It’s a gorgeous, hot day at the end of summer and we’re not letting it go to waste.

Want to do the hike yourself? Budapest Hikers have some details on their website about the Pilisborosjenő hike, including some instructions on how to get there by bus that are slightly different from ours. Our hike is delineated on the map below and started at Bus Stop Solymár, téglagyári bekötőút:

What did we find on our hike during this beautiful summer day? Well…

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Cars and trucks pass us at high speeds near the trail entrance.
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Snails wait out the heat of the day.
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A beetle struggles to stay upright. There were dozens of these beetles along the trail, all struggling to walk or on their backs with their feet in the air. I’m not sure if it’s just because it’s the season’s end or some kind of chemical/disease exposure.
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Strange squat sentinels sit along the trail. What are they for?
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An interesting seed hanging from a vine.
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Ants excitedly scuttle around a sticky puddle on the surface of a mushroom.
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Probably a wild Pink (Dianthus)
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Wild Chicory flowers; the plant can be used as coffee substitute, and is also where your endives and radicchio come from.
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Wild Barberis (barberries) growing from a bush.
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The Camel Rocks, a climb-able limestone/sandstone formation.
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An odd tuft growing on a wild rosebush. I’m guessing it’s some kind of parasite. Oh, I’m right; it’s a wasp larva home.
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A European Green Lizard (Lacerta viridis), now reddish-brown at the end of mating season.
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A shallow cave in the cliff.
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A view from near the top of the hill.
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A stamp near the top of the hike! BYO stamp pad, though.
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Stoytcho at the summit.
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Another wildflower, possibly a variety of Spotted Knapweed (Centauria maculosa).
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Hmm, I don’t think so.
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A European Green Lizard, still green for mating season.

Flowers of Lake Baikal

Mid summer is not a great season for flowering plants in general but we still plenty along the trail. We bought a book on flowers in southern Siberia, including the Baikal Region. Unfortunately, that book is not with me right now, but I will update this post with names once I get it. IMG_20170708_180501IMG_20170708_150605 IMG_20170708_140419IMG_20170708_122943 IMG_20170708_113250IMG_20170708_113147 IMG_20170708_111155

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These shots didn’t come out quite as good, but I’m leaving them here for future identification.

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Plants along the Salkantay Trail

One of the best things about the Salkantay Trail is that it takes you through at least five* different Andean habitats, each with its own unique flora and fauna. And while everyone wants to spot the animals, you’re much more likely to see plants along the trail because 1) there are more plants than animals and 2) they don’t move so they don’t flee when you come down the trail. So it can be far more rewarding on a hike to take some time and admire the plants.

Below are some of the plants we encountered on our hike along the Salkantay Trail in January 2017. There’s an abundance of plant life everywhere on the trek, from the familiar to the strange, and the rainy season meant a plethora of flowers in bloom and in some places, fresh fruit. I’ve tried to identify species where I can, but if you have any info please feel free to comment below.

Alpine Habitat

This ecosystem stretches from Salkantaypampa to a few kilometers after the village of Wayramachay and includes the Salkantay Pass. Plants here grow low or spindly, battered by cold and high winds on the mountainside.

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Small, stunted lupines (Lupinus mutabilis) grow near the Salkantay Pass
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We thought this might be a type of dandelion, but on closer inspection it looks closer to wood avens (Geum urbanum). However, that’s a Europe/Middle East plant, so this could be a close relative or an invader.
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I’m guessing this is an actual member of the dandelion family, from it’s cheerful yellow flower to the shovel-shaped leaves that grow in a cluster.
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The radial leaves of an unknown annual crowd surround a tuft of moss along the trail.
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Unripe wild blueberries growing along the trail, identified mostly by their small, leathery leaves and the unmistakeable crown n the bottom of the berry.

Tropical Highland Wet

The alpine region gave way to a hot, humid, and much more tropical-feeling region that included an abundance of plant species. Plant size ranged from tiny mossess and small annuals to huge brambles, shoots, and trees. Some species even eschewed dirt and grew on other plants.

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An unripe blackberry grows along the trail. Judging by the size of the fruit and the location, I’d guess it’s the eponymous Andean blackbery (Rubus glaucus).
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I’m not sure what this flower is, but I’ve ruled out fuchsia and cantua. My best guess is Alstromeria isabellina, but even that doesn’t seem quite right.
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Young leaves of a native bamboo (probably Chusquea spp.) still wet with morning dew.
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The strangest plant we saw on our trip; I couldn’t find any leads on it online.
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A native orchid known as Wiñay Wayna in Peru. It’s scientific name is Epidendrum secundum. We also saw a similar plant in a New Zealand garden, so you might be able to get this orchid species commercially.

Tropical Highland Semi-arid/Disturbed Habitat

As we walked along the vehicle road to Playa, there air seemed to be hotter and drier and the dirt appeared to be harder packed. This may be an actual change in climate, or just be the case on the day we were hiking. Either way, this ecosystem is different than the one along the trail; the plants are different, probably because the area is disturbed by frequent human activity.

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A yellow-flowered legume along the trail, perhaps of the genus Retama. You can easily identify legumes by the presence of pea/bean-like pods and the hooded flowers. You could also dig up the roots and find they have nodules, but that wouldn’t be very nice.
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An unknown, rather fuzzy plant growing along the trail.
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A wild bee or wasp pollinates an unnamed wildflower. I couldn’t get any leads on this one, either.
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A giant wild taro plant grows alongside the trail.

Again, if you have info on any of these unidentified plants, let me know in the comments! Cheers,

– Natalie

*There are probably more than five habitats, but this is what I could identify on the hike: conifer forest (may be manmade), grassland/pampas, alpine, tropical highland wet, tropical  highland semi-arid