Tramping in the Bucegi mountains
4th, 5th July 2010
We needed to get away from trudging the city streets and into the mountains again. The weather wasn't looking too good. We caught the train to Sinaia and it rained all afternoon and most of the night. We tried to get some information about the trails, but it was the weekend and the tourist office was closed. We purchased a map of the area. It was still raining in the morning but by 10am it had cleared enough and we could see the tops. We were advised to take the cable car to the top because of bears in the forests. We got off at Mt Furnica where it was a very pleasant 10 degrees. As we headed along from Miorija, shepherds were moving their sheep across the mountain pastures and we could hear the pleasant distant ring of cow bells. There was an abundance of mountain flowers to be photographed, many unknown to us. We followed the yellow and white trail markers and after 1 1/2 hours reached Piatra Arsa behind Mt Jepi Mari where there is the national altitude sports training centre. We stopped for a couple of hours in the torrential rain supping coffee and tea and talking to local trampers. The rain stopped and we headed off to Babele. Our timing was impeccable: just as we arrived at the Babele cabana the hail arrived. Three Germans complained it was the hottest day in Germany and here they were walking in hail. It continued for a couple of hours. Beds in the cabana were from $NZ16 each. A notice said "Keep to trails, no litter and definitely no camping - Beware of Bears". We had soup and "fruits of the forest" herbal tea in a cabana restaurant with a carved edelweiss on the door. The owner had been there for 17 years and we were only the second group of NZers he had seen in that time. We were told that the water there was unsafe to drink, even the rain and stream water - the effects of Chernobyl 26 years ago. All the water was cleared of contaminants and brought up by cable car to the tops. We bought bottled water. It is a sad indictment when you aren't able to drink water in the hills: how lucky we are in NZ. The hail stopped, so time to explore the weathered limestone structures.
We left early next morning in brilliant weather, past the Alpine Club Lodge at Baba Mare, where a couple were just leaving, so we talked to them. Two table top mountains lay ahead. We headed to the base of the furtherest one at Saua Sugarile. Below us was the precipitous gorge dropping steeply to the valley below and the rising mist was swirling around the jagged peaks. You had to keep to the trails as off track the ground was pretty unstable. We could make out the outline of a building with a rock and lightning conductor on top in the mist above us. At 9:30 we made the summit of Mt Omul, the highest point in Bucegi National Park at 2509m and only 34m lower than the highest in Romania. We had vegetable soup and tea in the shingled Omul Cabana with photos on the wall of what it was like in winter and a very cozy bunkroom. It is no wonder that some foreign travellers arrive at NZ huts wanting to know where the restaurant is. The loo was a wood slate hole in the ground outside. Next door was a large manned weather station.
The mist was closing in so we decided to get off the tops and head down the valley to Pestara, which would be relatively clear from the prevailing mist. We at first took the high trail and soon picked up the blue and white trail markers down the valley with great views between the rocky mountains, either side covered lower down with stunted pine and mountain ash. Beyond through the steep spruce-lined gorges we could see Lake Bolboci There were many waterfalls and a massive striped limestone boulder at least 100 metres high: Macetul Turcesc. It started to drizzle a little so time to put parkas on. On approaching Pestara a local priest was taking a group of eight children in their plastic capes for a walk.
Time for some lunch opposite the mountain rescue centre and then a pleasant 600 metres up the blue cross trail back up to Babele again in 1½ hours. It had been a pleasant 8hr tramp in one of Romania's spectacular National Parks.
- Party members
- Peter Smith (scribe) & Trish Gardiner-Smith.