Winter Hiking in Retezat, Romania
I would like to tell a little more about my adventurous hiking trip to one of the most beautiful mountains in Romania, Retezat. I travelled with an experienced hiking group from Budapest (Hungary) to Retezat National Park to get some more winter hiking experience and enjoy the wintertime in Romania. I must say a well spent 4 days in the most wonderful places I have ever been.
We started our journey very early in the morning from Budapest by a minibus, 9 people gathered together for the same dream to conquer the Retezat and Peleaga Peak but not at least to enjoy the weekend. When joining a new group of hikers I always have the feeling that we have somehow the same heart who loves the mountains. The bus journey took 7 hours with some stops. We arrived to the Retezat National Park on the afternoon and after parking the minibus we needed to get all our backpacks and go up to the mountain shelter. We walked up 5km, 500m altitude with all our stuff. It was a good warm up for the next day as I think back.
Arriving to the rest houses we needed to make fire in our little wooden houses. Each room had 3-4 beds, the fireplace was prepared but it was around -10 Celsius degrees outside and inside as well.
We made the fire and got together with the group in the common area, it was like a canteen where we could buy some hot wine, soup and other food.
After few shots and hot wines the rooms got warmer as well, so we went back to get some sleep.
Next morning it was again around -10 degrees and of course the fireplace was not anymore warm, so we needed to hurry and take our clothes on. I really liked this basic style, it was like we went back in time 50 years in time. The toilet was outside I would say long distance enough to hurry sometimes. 🙂
After a very good breakfast we started our journey to Retezat Peak from the cabin (Pietrele) which was on 1480m. We were equipped with snow shoes because that helps the walking on the snow when its really deep. If the snow its frozen you can walk on it without sinking. We hiked up through a wonderful frozen forest. I always got late as I enjoyed taking pictures.
When we went up to about 1800m there were no trees “just” the snow and the mountains. We had a very lucky day with sunshine and blue sky, every hikers dream to get this weather. I need to mention here that we were the only group hiking there so there were no traces we could follow.
After a few kilometers we found ourselves in front of a very deep wall. I was even mentioning how the hell I am going to do this? And the others just gave the answers “you can just go up there like all of us”. Honestly at that point I thought “What if there is an avalanche and we all fall down?” but the others seemed so sure about themselves that I just said to myself “ok, I am going after them, if they can do it I can do it!”.
The men made footprints in the snow and we just hiked after them. It was so much energy in the team. If I was alone there I am sure I would have said no I am afraid, but here comes the thing when you are with a strong team where everyone has the same goal they just take you to reach that.
When we got to the top of that wall I realized that we have a quite long distance to the peak. But I was telling to myself “ok you did the hard part now you can reach the top”. We hiked around one hour more to the peak, it was a bit icy and slippery at some point. We reached the Retezat Peak (2485m) around 1pm. Arriving to a highest Peak of a mountain it makes me always so happy, I would rather stay there hours wondering and thinking.
This time we didn’t have much time to wonder because in wintertime the days are shorter and we needed to come down safe in sunlight. The way back its always harder for me, maybe because going up I have the motivation to reach the peak and see the view. But also the way back I am always more exhausted and somehow harder to go downhill.
It was a long way back to the cabin where our cold room was awaiting us. We made the fire and got some hot soup. As we did not have internet or even reception for the phones the evenings were very social without media :), we played cards, drunk some wine and pálinka and told some good stories.
The third day of the trip was planned for Peleaga Peak. We had breakfast at 7.30am and started the hike around 8.30am. It started again with a forest hike and afterwards we got our well deserved sunshine.
We hiked up to around 2000m when we faced a deep wall again. I did not mention that the day before the way back on that wall everyone slid down sitting on their bottom. I was too afraid to do it, it was just too deep for me, I was shaking sweating and it was very hard to get down. Especially that I did not have crampons on my boots. So meeting the same deep wall second time I decided that I am not going further. We said goodbye to each other and they continued their hike on the deep wall. I was looking back time to time if they are doing good there, but I could see they were up really fast on that wall. I had a long sunny tea time on 2000m and met some groups coming up. It was a Saturday so we could see more people up in the mountains than the day before.
After a few hours I was already back in our houses. In the afternoon the other team members arrived back safe, I was happy to see them again. The last night we spent playing cards and having fun.
Fourth day we had a short hike (3 hours) and after a goodbye lunch we took all our stuff and walked back to the car. In the evening we were back in Budapest with the best memories of this winter. I am planning to go back in summertime when the mountain shows its different colors.
If you have any questions traveling to Retezat National Park just drop a mail to firstname.lastname@example.org and I will reply to you.
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