Piatra Craiului National Park: Southern Ridge
Now, when I look back at that experience, I can say: “Wow, what an adventure!”
Piatra Craiului is indeed an adventure with breathtaking views, spectacular crests, deep gorges, encounters with wild animals and rare plants: floarea de colt (Leontopodium alpinum or edelweiss) and garofita Pietrei Craiului (Dianthus callizonus), the symbol of Piatra Craiului National Park.
We set off from Brusturet Cabin, an abandoned shelter in Arges County, through Valea Seaca (the “dry valley”). The path is marked with a yellow cross and it meanders through about 4 kilometres of keys carved into limestone, flanked by awesome grotto-punctured vertical walls 100-/200-metre high.
After an hour and a half of steadfast hiking, we reached the Grind Sheepfold, the last place where water was available on that route. While filling your bottle with wonderfully fresh, ice-cold water, you can’t help looking in awe at the Piatra Craiului Mountains and wondering how on earth you could possibly climb up that huge range of rocky peaks. “Is there really a path to up there?” - at least that’s what I asked. :)
There is indeed a path marked with a red stripe that takes you up to the Grind shelter and then through Grohotis (Scree) to “Varful la Om”, the highest peak (2238 metres). Before you start the route, grab something sweet, like chocolate or cookies, and some water, because the hike is very demanding…
From this point on starts the real adventure! For at least five or six hours you go up and down over and over again on the path marked with a red dot. The path is difficult to follow but it`s fully worth the effort. The views are for sure breathtaking but, just as they say, “The best view comes after the hardest climbing!”
We met this curious black goat that followed us for almost 30 minutes. I saw for the first time floare de colt and garofita Pietrei Craiului and a lot of other beautiful flowers the names of which I don`t even know.
After five hours it started to rain but it didn’t last long. Very soon the sky cleared, with not a cloud in sight and the rainbow let us speechless.
Around seven p.m. we finally got to a sign that indicated five more minutes to our destination that day: Funduri shelter. In five minutes this adventure was about to take a break and to be continued the next day, on our way back to the car, on the path marked with a blue triangle and a blue stripe.
On Sunday, after a good sleep, we continued our route but this time only descending, with no more climbs. We left behind the imposing mountain and, with the spectacular views of the previous day still in mind, we got to the car in about four hours.
Back to the crowded city and wondering where to, next weekend…
images: personal archive