The Retezat

by

[Editorial note: inadvertently left unpublished since 24/08/2010]

Mihai has a cabin in the Retezat Mountains, a national park, one of only 3 in Romania. It is 12km up the road from his village, then a 5km trek up a rough track that is only passable by tractor and has wrecked some 4wds. We decided to go up by bike and stay overnight. It was quite a climb, about 1000m. There is a cabana, cantina and camping area at the end of the road, then you have to walk up the track to Pietrele, where there are more cabins and a cantina serving meals and drinks.

As we walked up, pushing our bikes, we were accompanied by Emil, a retired mining engineer who, although aged under 50, is now a volunteer ranger in the Retezat NP. He was cheerful about his circumstances that gave him a satisfactory pension and the freedom to do what he enjoys. His wife is a teacher and he has an academically gifted daughter aged 18, who is destined, according to him, to be a judge. Not a lawyer or magistrate, a judge. Hope she makes it. He was friendly and helped me up some particularly steep stretches. We bought him a beer at the cantina.

Emil favours the Putin look!

The day had started with a minor disaster as Ian had left his cycling shoes outside the door overnight, and in the morning only one was there, the other having been taken by a dog. We found it, badly chewed, the tongue mainly destroyed. The velcro strap was still OK and the sole was fine, so with the addition of a shoelace he was back in action.

At Pietrele we took a brief dip in the freezing water, enjoyed the views of the tops appearing above the trees and rested. In the evening we were joined by Maya and Yoav, from Israel. They had walked further up to one of the numerous alpine tarns on top of the range. They are travelling without mobile phone or internet, finding their way to interesting places as they go by talking to people and seeing what is around.

Cabin at Pietrele

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