The World Photo Tour goes on, conquering the mountains. [Probably] the best walk on the road so far: Retezat and Parâng mountains, both wild and welcoming.
First bit found me climbing from Râu de Mori to Râușor and then all the way up to Retezat Summit. Just a bit over 9 hours of painful climb through dense forest and then close to vertical steeps. This time with 27 kilos in the backpack as I prepared for four days of wilderness. The views and the feeling were worth it like never before. As the night came in while I still had to climb down to the Bucura Camp, it didn’t come alone, but with high speed winds, dense fog and two Polish guys with no map. They figured out they could camp on the peak, but they came to realize that was not a possibility. So steep climbing down then for another four hours until we finally found ourselves in the comfort of the natural shelter at Bucura Lake, Romania’s biggest glacial lake. Some lying was involved as well as I lead the group so from time to time I had to keep the spirits up. How much until there? Ah, nothing but half an hour! You said that an hour ago! Yeah, well, I had to, otherwise you would go a bit erratic! Some palinka at the and of a day of efforts was then enjoyed in silence. We have made it!
In the morning, I took the decision of going on instead of spending another day up there as signs of bad weather moving in were showing even from the night before. So down and up and down again, with the path to Buta Lodge being highly rewarding in scenery. No wolves and bears so far, but always when in deep forests I made my presence felt signalling my position every once in a while with short whistle blows. I continued my journey in that day all the way to Câmpul lui Neag.
From here onwards, I was entering this anthropic scenery of what is one of Romania’s most vulnerable cradles for social disasters: an area where mining was the single most productive economical activity. When that failed, everything else followed. And I got more of out of a feeling of this haunted place as I walked through Uricani, Lupeni, Vulcan, the lousy shitty weather being a big contributor. So at the end of another long day I found myself wet, tired and cold in Petroșani. A hot shower, a pizza and some pancakes saved the day at Bobîrcă House, the place where the following morning I had the pleasure of meeting with Cezar Iacob, old friend who in that night came all the way from Bucharest by train to have some three days of walking with me. No sleep until the morning then, as I was both too tired and too anxious to meet him again.
In the morning we took off, planning to reach Obârșia Lotrului, up in Parâng Mountains that day. Not necessarily a nice day of walking, as it was milk-like fog. So in the lack of scenery to wash our eyes with, we compensated with catching up with how each other’s lives got to be: future and past relationships, ways to view and understand situations, happenings, reactions and behaviours, life philosophy all topped up with crazy humour on anything and everything. The star of the day was without any doubt the owner(?) of ‘Bradul’ Lodge, the first one we tried to get a booking down for the night. The conversation actually went like this:
– Hello, you called ‘Bradul’ Lodge!
– Uh, hi there, I’d like to make a reservation for one double room for one night, that is tonight if you have anything available.
– Well, yes, we have something, when are you arriving?
– We just set off on foot from Petroșani, we have some 30 km of walking ahead of us so we’d reach you by 5PM.
– Okay, I can book your room, but thing is, if anyone else calls I will have to let it go.
– [WTF surprise look on Cezar’s face] Ahem! So why take our booking anyway then? What kind of booking is this?
– Sorry, but how am I supposed to know you will get here?
– Miss, if we don’t get there it means something bad happened and you’d have to call the police.
– No, I’m sorry, but I cannot book you.
– Okay, thank you, I wish you a glorious memorable day then! [hangs up, dumbfuck face, WTF was that kind of look] To me: I just had a nice conversation with a stupid person!
Once in Obârșia Lotrului we went straight to the other lodge of the two existent.
In the morning we went South, following Transalpina, Romania’s highest mountain road on a specifically beautiful September day. And when it got too crowded with all the ‘civilians’ and their cars, we skipped the road, took off and made our own track through the mountains, all the way to Rânca, a rapid developing ski resort. It was nothing but a good day: good talk, good laugh, nice scenery, good walk.
The following day we set off to Novaci and then Eastwards to Polovragi. And that was about it in the mountains. Enjoyed the ride to the full.
After Cezar left, I found myself alone again, but I was set to see him once more in Bucharest. And it would be there as well where I’d then have another encounter with the one I love, actually for the 5th time on this road so far. Probably the toughest and most important decision I got myself into having to take so far in my life. So should I stop or should I walk then? Somehow either is selfish. Win-win situation? I now have my my world I share with some from time to time. That exact same time that flies and shuffles away, sometimes with grace, sometimes with brutality. Sometimes there is no fade out. I now have my camera, my backpack, my boots and my road. And the dreamy hills ahead of me. What am I saving myself for?
To be continued.