Finally back on the ridge of these beautiful Romanian Mountains. This trip was so much planned, that just a few days before I wasn’t even so sure we would actually make it happen. But in the end it did happen and it was probably one of the most beautiful and amazing hiking trips we had ever.
The trapeze made by Moldoveanu (2543 m) & Viştea Mare (2527 m) peaks, seen from Urlea peak
We initially planned to do almost all of the Făgăraş Mountains ridge, which is about 90km long and would have taken us about 6 days. We left home thinking that this is what would happen, but unfortunately, the weather conditions were really bad starting day 4 so we decided to go back home.
For our 3 full days of hiking we had an amazing weather. With some clouds and wind from time to time, but still nothing to actually complain about. We had the trip we did in 2014 as a comparison, when we had a really bad weather in some of the days, we were all wet and cold. But this time it was totally different. We had sun almost all of the time, clear sky and a nice temperature of about 15 degrees by day which was actually just perfect when you’re hiking all day carrying a heavy back-pack.
Looking at the trapeze from unde the Urlea peak
We were three people for the trip, we made a great team and we decided to sleep in a tent every night we were up on the mountain. There are plenty of shelters, some of them looking pretty good, where you can sleep if you don’t feel like carrying your tent around all day.
Our shadow on Moldoveanu and Viştea Mare
Day 1 – Sebeş village (Braşov County) – Curmătura Zârnei Shelter (approximately 8 hours)
The Făgăraş Mountains Ridge hiking trail (the red line) starts from Plaiul Foii, but that’s almost a day of hiking through the woods so we decided to start our trip from the Sebeş village.
We had a friend who drove us with the car as far as the car could go and from there on we followed the blue triangle path until getting to the Comisu Shelter (1865 m).
This first part of the trip was mostly through the woods and it took us about 3 hours to actually get on the mountain ridge and start our ridge ascension. The trip through the woods was absolutely incredible. The woods looked as in a fairy tale, perfect green, full of mist, quiet and calm, maybe a bit too scary sometimes.
We were thinking that not many people were walking through this wood and that at any time we could meet a wild animal, mostly we were afraid of bears.
When finally got out of the woods and on the mountain ridge, we were at about 1800m high already. From here, for the next days we were hiking only on the mountain ridge, climbing a mountain, then going down, then up again and so on.
The first day was the most quiet. There weren’t too many other people on the trail, just us and some shepherds with their sheep. The weather was not the best, as we had some heavy winds from time to time, with lots of fog, but we did also get some clear skies, with sun which allowed us to actually see what was around us and admire the view. Because I think that that’s the main purpose of going hiking, to admire the greatness of the mountains.
In terms of difficulty, the first day was the easiest. Also because we were quite fresh and rested, but also because there weren’t too many very high peaks we had to climb.
We had lots of small breaks, where we would just sit down and start eating blueberries, because it was full of them everywhere we looked. They were absolutely delicious.
Still, at the end of the day we were pretty tired and we were looking forward to finally get to the Curmătura Zârnei Shelter (1923 m) where we would set camp for the night. We got there at about 6.00 in the afternoon, the sky was clear and the sun was warm.
Curmătura Zârnei Shelter (1923 m)
The night was quiet and nice, just like a night out on the mountains should be and in the morning we woke up with a beautiful white horse in front of our tent, calmly eating grass.
Full day trip: Sebeş village – Comisu Shelter (1865 m) – Curmătura Brătilei Shelter (2151 m) – Curmătura Zârnei Shelter (1923 m)
Day 2 – Curmătura Zârnei Shelter – Viştea Shelter (approximately 8 – 9 hours)
The next day we woke up quite early, had a nice breakfast, packed our bags and started walking. We had a long day ahead, but the weather condition was supposed to be very good. Which was also true, because we had the most sunny day on the mountains ever.
The fatigue was starting to kick in, but still we were in a good shape to do some more effort. Second day was a bit harder than the first one, as we were starting our ascent towards the 2000m high peaks. We did a lot of climbing for that day, but the view was just breathtaking everywhere we looked, so all the effort didn’t seem that much anymore.
Up toward the Dara peak (2501 m)
These mountains have something that fills your soul immediately with love, peace and any other good feeling that could come to your mind. One can only understand if you get to live this kind of experience at least once in your lifetime.
Looking at the Moldoveanu from below the Urlea peak (2404 m)
It happened so often that every time we looked around we just couldn’t help ourselves be amazed of what was in front of your eyes. Especially having such a nice weather that just encouraged us to go on further and discover more of the beauty of these mountains.
In the distance Moldoveanu (2543 m) & Viştea Mare (2527 m) peaks
The second day was a bit more crowded than the first one, also because we were slowly approaching the Moldoveanu Peak (which is the highest of România) and everyone wants to get there. We had already climbed that peak 3 years ago, so nothing new under the sky for us.
Fereastra Mică Shelter
At the Fereastra Mică Shelter, we made a short break and we also had the chance to see a naughty black goat running across out path 🙂
The way from here to Viştea Shelter was just incredible beautiful. We had to go up and down on three mountains Gălăşescu, Gălbelene Peak and Hârtopul Ursului.
Gălăşescu peak (2471 m) & Gălăşescu lake
And a bit further on our way we had the chance to see the most beautiful thing nature had to offer us for the whole trip. An amazing little rainbow that formed right at our feet, from out of nowhere. We were just mesmerized of seeing such a thing right in front of our eyes and suddenly the whole trip got an even more bigger meaning.
For the second night we set camp near the Viştea Shelter (2310 m), which was full of people. It was a bit foggy when we got there and a bit difficult to find a nice spot for our tent, but still we managed to get everything set up, have dinner and go to sleep.
The fog around the Viştea Shelter, at the foothils of Moldoveanu and Viştea Mare
It had been a long day, the fatigue was more and more visible, our legs hurt, our backs hurt from all the heaviness of the backpacks, but still we were happy that we were there and that we had such a perfect, absolutely amazing day. A day that ended with a clear and full of beautiful colors sky.
Valea Rea Valley
Full day trip: Curmătura Zârnei Shelter (1923 m)- around Urlea peak – Colţul Bălăceni peak (2196 m) – Fereastra Mare a Sâmbetei(2188 m) – Slanina peak (2268 m)- Fereastra Mică a Sâmbetei Shelter (2150 m) – Gălăşescu Peak (2471 m) – Gălbelene Peak (2456 m) – Hârtopul Ursului (2461 m) – Viştea Shelter (2310 m).
Day 3 – Viştea Shelter – Capra Lake (approximately 9 hours)
Waking up early in the morning, at the foothills of the trapeze made by Moldoveanu and Viştea peaks, gave you a kick of energy for what was about to come.
Day 3 was the hardest of them all. We had to climb the highest peaks and for some the climbing was quite intense. This part of the trail should be done if you have a good physical condition. For us it was almost exhausting, as we were already quite tired from the previous two days.
Valea Rea lake
We started our day with a first quite serious ascent to the Viştea Mare Peak at 2527 m (the third highest peak in Romania) from the Viştea Shelter (2310 m). The climbing is quite abrupt, perfect for an early morning to get you all warmed up and ready for a long day.
Climbing the Viştea Mare peak. Down there is the Viştea Shelter.
We stopped on the peak for a nice 5 minutes break, to enjoy the sun and the perfect view over the Moldoveanu Peak (2544m). It happens rarely that you get to see the highest peak of Romania on a perfectly clear sky with absolutely no clouds.
Looking down from Viştea Mare to the path we came
From the Viştea Mare peak to the Moldoveanu Peak it’s only a 25 minutes trip, but as we had been on the Moldoveanu Peak before, we decided to save some time and energy for the rest of the day as we had a lot to walk.
Looking from Viştea Mare at the path we would follow
We started the descent from the Viştea Mare peak to the Orzănele Gorge (2305m) and then in about 30 minutes started another ascent to the Ucea Mare Peak (2434m). There was a series of other peaks we were climbing and then descending until we got to the Podragu Gorge (Corabia Peak, Podul Giurgiului Peak, Tărâţa Peak). From the Podragu Gorge, you can decend to the Podragu Chalet, which is also a great place for camping, but they also can offer accommodation inside and a warm meal.
Podragu Chalet & lake
From the Podragu Gorge we descended to the Podul Giugiului Lake (also a very good place for camping) and started one very hard ascent towards the Mircii Peak (2471 m). This ascent is very abrubt and it took us about 1 hour to get on the top.
The trapeze seen from the Mircii Peak (2471 m)
The weather was still incredibly sunny and warn and this is where we stopped for lunch. We were half way and although, we were very tired and our feet hurt, we still took the time to enjoy the beauty around us.
From the Mircii Peak the trail is quite easy, going to the Nerlinger Monument and the Arpaşului Gorge. After this we get to the ‘La 3 paşi de moarte’ (3 steps away from death) which is a more difficult area to pass and you need to be very careful. There are chains you can hold on too, but still you have to watch every step you take, because every where you look there’s only the abyss, so chances of falling and not surviving are quite big.
Still we passed this part with no issues and just at the beginning of it a black goat came into our way looking curious at us and jumping around. It was such a nice surprise to see this lovely black goat right next to us.
From the ‘La 3 pasi de moarte’ we continued our trip to the Fereastra Zmeilor where we had a nice break to rest a bit, as we were about to start our last heavy ascent for the day. The ascent to the Capra Lake (2230 m) was really hardcore. Also because it was towards the end of the day, but also because it was really abrupt. I was only dreaming to finally get to the Capra Lake and set our tent, have some dinner and finally get some rest.
And in the end it actually happened. We were there, with everything set up and ready for having some rest. The weather was perfect for the whole trip so far, but unfortunately it was supposed to get worse and start raining the next day.
And so it was, we woke up and no trace of sun, there were only clouds on the sky. We quickly packed our bags and decided to go to the Balea Chalet (which is only about 1 hour hike from the Capra Lake) and call someone to pick us up from there and take us home.
We got to the chalet had a nice and warm breakfast. The rain started in no time and by noon, when we finally left home, it was literally pouring. It was very clear for us that it was a very wise decision to go back home and not continue the trip, as it would have been quite difficult to handle such a weather when you’re on top of the mountains.
Full day trip : Viştea Shelter (2310 m) – Viștea Mare Peak (2527 m) – Orzănelei Gorge – Ucea Mare Peak (2434 m) – Corabia Peak – Podul Giurgiului Peak – Tărâţa Peak (2414 m) – Podragului Gorge – Podul Giurgiului Lake (2140 m) – Mircii Peak (2471 m) – Portiţa Arpaşului – Nerlinger Monument – La Trei Paşi de Moarte – Zmeilor Gorge – Capra Lake (2230 m)
A bit sad that we had to go back home, but still incredibly happy that we had had 3 full days on the Fagaras Ridge with such a beautiful weather that allowed us to admire the beauty around us to the maximum.
We really had fun, we enjoyed every step of the trip, we laughed, we were tired, but relaxed, our mind was rested and clear, our lungs were clean after breathing so much pure air, our eyes were delighted after everything they had seen and our souls were truly filled with happiness and pure joy. Because this is what mountains offer to us, humans, if we know to appreciate and protect them.
And now, looking forward for next year to continue the trip from where we left it this summer.
Some practical tips for a trip like this:
Food: We took lots of cans with all sorts of food from the supermarket, plus nuts, peanuts, seeds, chocolate, stuff that gives you lots of energy, but doesn’t weight too much. Still for a long trip, there will be a lot of food you have to carry with you.
Water: You get thirsty from all the effort and hydration is important. Bring some water with you as you start your trip (about 2l), but don’t worry, you will find plenty of water on the way as well. There are springs everywhere you step, at least two every day and the water is fresh and cold. We drank with no worries from all the springs we found and nothing happened to us. Still, it’s pure water from the mountains.
Clothes: The most important thing on a trip like this are the boots, because your feet are the most affected from all the walking. Then you need sports clothing, that dries fast. Also a polar jacket is needed and a wind jacket as well. Plus some rain protection, plus extra clothing for changing. For a trip like this two extra t-shirts, a pair of pants, and 2 -3 pairs of socks should be fine.
Equipment: First you need a good back-pack that sits comfortably on your back and doesn’t give you too much back pain after all the carrying. Also, you need a sleeping bag and a sleeping pad. These two are needed also if you decide to sleep in a shelter. Bare in mind that during summer time, and weekends especially, shelters can be very crowded and you might not have that much room to sleep. If you decide to sleep in a tent, you have to carry your tent as well. For all of them, try to chose some very light ones, specially fitted for hiking, as you will carry all of them on you back and every little extra weight counts. As an extra, you can also have some hiking sticks, which I have to admit, are very helpful.
For the rest, you should have good strength, optimism, the will to get to the end of your trip and the wish to enjoy everything that lays at your feet and in front of your eyes.