I discovered the mountains for the first time in my life by the age of18. And I had the privilege that these mountains were Retezat. I was so impressed about what I saw and admired over there that going to the mountains became a large part of the story of my life. And my daughter’s.
One of Europe’s last remaining pristine forests, Retezat National Park is located 70 km away from my hometown of Deva, Romania and we turned it into our training ground.
The Retezat National Park is a protected area located in the Retezat Mountains, the most prominent mountain area of the Southern Carpathians (also called sometimes “Transylvanian Alps”).
Any time me and Alexandra are in need of mountain training we go there. They reach 2500 m, provide the necessary slopes and rocky fields and are also extremely beautiful.
So, some days ago we decided it was about time to go there. Not only we had to train but also we had to shoot some footage for a TV channel that seems interested in our activity of climbing the summits of the Circuit of Seven Volcanoes.
We set off by 8 o’clock in the morning. We, means Alexandra, me and our mountain dog, the world wide renowned German shepherd Cora.
Cora must have reached the top of these mountains at least 10 times so far which means that she is fully qualified to come with us any where we go.
Too bad taking her abroad implies that much paper work.
We parked our car around the little village of Carnic and began our journey toward the cut off peak of Retezat. Retezat means cut off in Romanian and from far away the mountain looks exactly like a pyramid with the top cut off.
Alexandra managed to win a geography contest, county level, with her study named “Similarities and comparisons between the Pyramid of Retezat and the Pyramid of the Sun in Teotihuacan”.
We took the road that leads to the Cottage of Pietrele and got there one hour later. Already we had shifted our minds into “mountain mood “, ready to walk as much as it takes and enjoying the landscape surrounding us.
From the cottage we took the beautiful Valley of Stanisoara. Every time I go there I can not stop getting amazed by the beauty of this mountain.
Most of the hike is done along a surreal river, whose waters never stop singing while bouncing over rocks and stones. The first two hours we walked in the forest and then on the grassy slopes of the valley. Surrounded all the time by peaks, pine trees, streams and the alarm noise made by the marmots.
Cora was enjoying every moment, running back and forth as were drawing closer to the saddle of the mountain.
Two hours after leaving the cottage we reached the lake of Stanisoara.
Always beautiful and glinting in the sun, the glacial lake was waiting for us.
We sat down and had some food while admiring the view.
Of course that we could not stop remembering, as we were slicing our salami on a flat rock, the time that we were climbing Kilimanjaro and the way we had our food over there, with our admirable porters waiting for us while we were seated around a real table and using real forks and plates.
We filled our bottles with the delicious water of the nearby spring and set off again for the saddle of Retezat. One half an hour later we were there and getting ready for the assault of the peak.
Of course I am joking. Retezat mountains are not famous for their altitude, but for the beauty of the nature. Hundreds of glacier lakes are nested in every corner of the mountain, mirroring in their clear water the blue of the Romanian sky.
Finally on top, where we meet some guys from Serbia, so it is time to share some stories from my years as a student in Timisoara, the big city close to the Serbian border.
Apparently they got lost a little bit and needed a lot of time to reach the summit, so they gladly took our phone number when Alexandra told them that we plan on opening a little guiding company for Romania and abroad.
After a while, and after admiring and taking in the breathtaking view of the National Park surrounding us we set off again.
This time we were heading for the lake Bucura, the largest lake in the park.
As the rules in the park are quite strict, camping is allowed only in specific places. Bucura is one of them.
Two hours later, after walking up and down, and marveling at every step we arrived on the shores of the big lake of Bucura.
Plenty of people around as usually. At the Salvamont refuge were two friends of ours from Straja ski resort. As soon as they spotted us they invited us in. We were very grateful for this. Doesn’t matter how used we are to camping and living outdoors, we are still not very fond on having to cook in the tent.
So we accepted their kind invitation and spent a nice and quiet night, sleeping on a mattress instead of a mat.
As usually Alexandra had to talk a lot about her next expedition and as usually people found difficult to believe that we were going, really going to Papua New Guinea. Even I have my difficulties in believing it.
Next morning after enjoying a good coffee, courtesy of our hosts, we set of for the highest peak of Retezat Mountains, the peak of Peleaga 2509m. The climb is a little bit tough but it is worth it. From the peak one can admire the view of the lake of Bucura, surrounded by the rocky walls of the mountain. We took our photos, informed Cora that she has made it for the tenth time to the top and left, direction saddle of Bucura, in order to take the beautiful valley of Pietrele for the way down.
So, one hour later we were heading downhill, once again, listening to the song of the springs and trying to take in all the beauty around us.
And then we reached the refuge of Gentiana, situated in a clearing in the middle of the woods. We took a break as we knew that we had just one hour and a half of walking ahead of us and chatted for a while with the refuge keeper.
And this is it.
A nice two days trip in the mountains, good training, good video taking and good cure for our souls.
Come and see for yourself.