It`s been a while since my last visit to Făgăraș: more exactly two years. It was actually an attempt to reach the Moldoveanu Peak, the highest of the Romanian Carpathians, 2,544 meters (8,346 feet).
It all started from the idea of spending three days in the Făgăraș Mountains, only the two of us in a tent. Tempting, right? So, we backpacked our things and went on our adventure.
We left Bucharest really early on Friday morning, very excited and enthusiastic about it, heading for Bâlea Lake, where we left our car. We started the hike at Bâlea towards our first objective: the Podragu Cabin. The first part of the trail offers amazing views towards Bâlea Lake, and once you reach the saddle you will be amazed by the beauty of the Capra Lake.
My first impression was, “Wow, the Făgăraș Mountains are gorgeous!” And the mountains kept strengthening that idea in my mind as I was trekking my way across them, over the following two days.
From the Capra Lake, with eyes set on all those mountainous beauties surrounding us, we passed by the Dragons’ Window (Fereastra Zmeilor), an exquisite panoramic view site, and reached an area called “Three steps away from death” (La trei pași de moarte). The name isn`t very encouraging, I know, but it`s not that bad. You have chains and a cable to hold on to, and a few friendly dogs around, guarding sheep.
After climbing three peaks (Arpașu Mic, Arpașu Mare and Mircii) and descending to the Podul Giurgiului Lake, we finally reached the Podragu Saddle. With only half an hour left to the Cabin and the beautiful lake, where lots of placid donkeys and horses were waiting for hikers. Actually, food, fuel, wood and everything that is needed there is transported by animals or backpack. Because of this, the Podragu Cabin is closed during winter.
We found out that the cabin was built between 1948 and 1949 by the National Bank of Romania for its employees, and it was opened in 1950.
The weather during the night wasn`t very friendly and a storm kept us awake. The following day we braced up for what I mentioned at the beginning: the attempt to reach Moldoveanu. After three more peaks, Tarâta, Corabia and Ucișoara, the sun showed up for a few moments, and so did my exhaustion, but for longer. Under the Viștea Peak (2,527 meters) I sat down and had a break until Florin and our new friend, Tomek, whom we’d met earlier that day, came back from the top.
I admired the view, I ate some chocolate and then we returned to the Cabin. The sunset was exceptionally rewarding and left us speechless. That night the sky was all covered in twinkling stars that kept the storm away.
To get back to our car, the next day we chose the shorter and less demanding route, but just as beautiful as the others. From Curmătura dintre Lacuri we descended to Podrăgelului Bucket, Podrăgel Lake and then to Podrăgelului Gorge. From the Portița Frunții Saddle we went through the Rocky Bucket (Căldarea Pietroasă), climbed to the Portița Arpașului, and crossed the Little Gorge (Strunga Mică). From the saddle we admired, on the right side, the Dragons’ Window and, on the left, the “Three steps away from death” (La trei pași de moarte).
It was an epic adventure, and one of my New Year’s resolutions is to go back there and sit on the “Roof of Romania”!
photos: personal archive