Hiking in Romania through the trails of Baiului Mountain and discovering the colors of autumn is one of the great adventures I had in Carpathian Garden. Indeed, every day of my stay in Romania is a highlight, one amazing day to another perfect day.
The day started with a meeting at 0930H in the park. The organizers, Mountain Adventure Sinaia, advised us to prepare for an unpredictable weather. It might be raining or snowing and temperature may be freezing in the highlands. The latest update we received was about the strong winds in the mountain. Everybody was all set with thick clothes, gloves, bonnets, hiking shoes and others.
From Prahova we were transported to Azuga for a cable car. The scene is simply stunning giving us a better view following the cable of lined beautiful autumn foliage below. We were so focused to where we were heading of. But when we look to the other side, a snow-capped mountain rising above the sea of clouds greeted us. That was a serene moment that is hard to contemplate of how a beautiful nature we have.
We were on top of the mountain with 1826 m altitude as the highest peak we reached with a magnificent view surrounding us. The weather is just perfect for hiking. I was in a company of total strangers but it didn’t matter though. I felt I am one them, I share the same passion they have.
Being the only one who doesn’t speak their language, I felt like I’ve got my personal English tour guides from the group. I wasn’t left alone. Who wouldn’t love to hear stories about the mountain while walking, a little bit of Romanian and Sinaia history and many beautiful stories?
As we continued our ascent, the temperature became warm but the sun is somewhere hiding. It was perfect. As we totally wrapped ourselves for an extremely cold weather, we started removing layers like bonnets/caps, neck cover, thick jackets, extra trousers, socks and others. My mistake was I wore the thermal long sleeve first.
The pacing of the hike was good. We rested in between, took snacks. Nobody’s in a hurry after all. We get tired physically but we feel refreshed every time we look over the valleys. The beauty of nature gave us strength.
We passed by along rocky roads and some muddy paths because of melting snow. From afar we saw few hikers also who are coming to our way and they’re following one line. As we meet them, we greeted each other with smile, and you can feel the light feeling in spite of being tired.
From the top, we saw a valley and it is a farm with sheep and cows wandering around the meadows. We were heading there. We followed the trail until we reach the farm. One of the lady organizers welcomed us with a mulled wine. Even the huge Romanian shepherd dogs greeted us, wiggling their tails.
We put down our backpacks and did whatever we wanted. Few went for a walk around, some gathered over a drink, others laid their mat on the ground and shared wonderful stories. We even have two toddlers playing, giggling, singing, dancing and running around. It was a perfect picture of freedom from any stresses in life. It was pure bliss that we experienced as we hiked in Romania and witnessed by Baiului Mountain.
While each of us were having the best time of our lives, somebody were also preparing meals and we were served with fresh and organic tomatoes, cucumber, onion along with smoked bacon and sheep cheese as appetizers.
The table was never empty with food and drinks. In the kitchen, a traditional homemade food Mamaliga filled with cheese is being prepared. While some are enjoying their pork and chicken barbecue and sausages. Palinka, a traditional fruit brandy, was also served.
In that part of Transylvania, the land beyond the forest, good things never run out. Singing Romanian folk songs with a guitar and even my favorite Comoara Muntilor was played.
Before the dark comes, we packed our things to descend from the mountain. The temperature begun to drop and fog started to cover the place. We weren’t in a hurry though. As we bid goodbye, we witnessed the shepherd led the sheep, and there’s always the one who is being a stray. The cows were led to the barns.
We even tried to put around us the shepherd’s cloak and they were teasing me to imagine now the life of a shepherd. I didn’t get exactly what they mean but I think it was the loneliness of being alone in the wilderness.
As the sun was setting, we started to follow the path to go home. It was totally dark, when we started to descend the mountain. The only source of light we have are coming from flashlights and headlights.
The organizers were responsible enough to lead us following a forest trail that I can’t even see what’s ahead. I’m afraid of the dark and we were in a middle of forest passing through fallen leaves, branches and roots. So I chose to be at the first ones who were descending with fears to be left behind.
The group I’m in seemed to be used in hiking through the dark and even in a steep and slippery trail. No wonder, I was the one who slipped first. (Hiyang-hiya naman ako sa lakas ng sigaw ko, pero dali-dali naman akong tumayo na parang walang nangyari.) And the journey goes on.
I don’t know if others experienced to slip off. But it happened again to me for the second time. One of the hikers taught me to move sideways to gain balance. It worked. I avoided following one line fearing that I’ll slip off again and I might accidentally push the one in front of me. (At oo nga, pumangatlo pa, nakakaiyak na sa sakit ng paa at nginig ng tuhod.) But that was all part of the adventure and fun. Hiking that time means falling and slipping off. And I wouldn’t trade anything for that experience.
When we were past the trail with fallen leaves, we followed a muddy path. And from afar, I heard water flowing down the river until we get so close and we have to actually cross the river through the rocks and stone formations.
Finally, we were walking already in muddy plain and I haven’t heard even one who complained. I thought we will be bidding goodbye just like that.
It was still a long hike to reach the center. And on that mountainside in Busteni, a group of more than 50 people, walked with passion and love with the mountain while singing their most loved Romanian folk songs guided with a tune from the strings of a guitar.
Until it was time to go home at past 10 in the evening. I can’t really remember saying goodbye but all I know is that I was thankful to everybody who made that day worthy to be cherished for a lifetime. Hiking in Romania is indeed a memorable experience.
(Photo Credits: Mountain Adventure Sinaia)