As I woke early after a good night of sleep on Monicas couch (First night in 37 days not in the Van, even though I had offers before) a look out of the window showed: Retezat Time! While Monica headed out for work I got into the car and drove back down for my two day hike.
Roads in Romania have a tendency to become smaller, muddier and rougher towards their end, even though on the map they look the same… they are not! After meeting the end of the road for 2WD vehicles sooner than expected I parked the Van in Carnic (1040m) and headed into the mountains for two days. This was the first time I left the car (with everything I own) behind for more than just a few hours. Just don’t think about it, and everything will be fine… 30 minutes into the trip I was thinking, did I turn the headlight off? This thought followed me around for the next two days since I was to lazy to go back down and check.
The hike up the mountain was really beautiful the forrest, the rivers, the nature. Its just an amazing sight. Due to weight limitations I did only bring my actioncam with me. So even though there is a lack of pictures at this point, the video will make more than up for it. I promise! Anybody that wants to go hiking in the Retezat or any other prominent mountain range in Rumania should check out the App Muntii Nostri for navigation. I found it really helpful in addition to my regular MapsMe App on my phone, didn’t keep me from getting lost though. The ways are quite well marked for the most part, but are unfortunately sometimes a little confusing at critical turnoff points. I made it back here to tell the story, so it is not that bad. After the astonishing beautiful climb up to 2000m to the basecamp by Lacul Bucura my goal for the day was reached. There where a few campers spread out in the area and the refugio was occuppied by another group. After pitching my tent and chilling for a while I got into a conversation with Horvarth and his friends who where hiking the mountain as well. We sat together laughed, drank tea and hot soup until it got to cold an dark and we had to head into our tents.
After the most amazing sunset on the night before, the sunlight woke me early the next morning and told me to get ready for the ascent to Mt. Retezat (2482m). It is quite an easy route, just following the track around another peak and uphill after that. Since there are a lot of paths up there some of them share the same markings for a while. I don’t know at which point I missed the turnoff point onto my path, but all of the sudden I couldn’t see any markinds ahead of me. I knew that my path had to be right of me, there was a high ridge covered with some snow so I went up to see if I can see my path again. Upon reaching it I could see a lake down in a small valley ahead of me while having the peak of another mountain behind me I assumed that this was the lake I had to head for.
So folks, lesson number one, don’t assume anything, go back to the last stupid point when you know you where right and start looking from there. Believe me it works better and saver that way! To get to the lake I had to cross a couple of snow fields, gravel pits and big blocks, all off the main path where nobody would find me if I would fall or anything other stupid. When I reached the lake, my GPS showed me that I was off about 400m to low and to the left of the lake I thought I was heading for, I could see now that the shape was different, too. So now I had to do another 500m across and 350m up, over unstable terrain, up back to the main path. I think I already mentioned how stupid and dangerous that was?! After I made it back to the main path I wondered how I was even able to loose it.
Proceeding to the main event of the day… Mt. Retezat, all covered in clouds so you can’t see shit :) YEAH! I started my descent back to the car after that (3h) and met Monica (from CS in Deva) after about 15 min on my way down. Since they had a different way to go back I decided to not join them back up. Had enough up and down that day already ;) I found some other friends on my way back down… flies! All of them! I had a whole cloud following me around for quite some time and every time I thought I got right of them the swarm build back up. (I took a shower two nights before!) When I came back to the tree line they either lost my smell or interest. I really enjoyed the way back down through the woods, which was quite beautiful again and actually my favorite of the whole trip.
So if you plan to go to Retezat take some sturdy boots (Cat C), hiking poles and suitable navigation. You might do it with sturdy shoes (not running shoes!) as well if you are not planning on getting lost like me. I think choosing boots and poles for this trip saved me from getting in trouble when I lost my way.
In the next post: pictures from the world famous Deva Skirt Bike, yes guys, its Girls on Bikes wearing skirts ;-)