The gondola brought us on top of the majestic plateau. The landscape is spectacular, right from the get go you being able to see each surrounding peak. All peaks look so close and you really wonder what you will do all day when any destination is just there.
I read on Wikipedia that: “The Bucegi is believed to be the Dacian holy mountain Kogainon, on which the God Zalmoxis resided in a cave.” For sure the Dacians knew something because more recently lots of legends and stories abound about the underground tunnels and caves that may exist under the plateau, tunnels that may connect the mountain to the holy Mount Kailash in Western Tibet, to a holy place in Iraq and the third going somewhere under the Gobi Plateau. In the under the mountain caves the “Internet legends” talk about a holographic library of the universe displayed on extremely tall and large tables built for giants.
Obviously very cool but we planned only an over the ground hike leaving the underground exploration for a future trip. So we descended Furnica Peak towards Piatra Arsa, where the old chalet burnt down being replaced by a large hotel. More recently the dirt mountain road that existed here for long time was paved in an exercise of bad tourism so zillions of cars were parked on the road with absolutely no facilities, water, toilets, etc. and hundreds of people were climbing the mountain to Babele, a short 40 minutes walk from the road. This explained a little why there were no cars on the road to “1400”; all were coming straight to the mountain top. “I am coming from Pestera”, a village on the other side of the mountain, told me a German, “You have to see that part. Hotels after hotels and nothing in between. They have no idea how to develop a site. Look at those cars and people and imagine the garbage that surrounds them. And absolutely no toilets…At least I was able to stay overnight here in Piatra Arsa and the sky was the best I ever saw in my life”.
The Babele chalet’ surroundings were packed with hundreds of day trippers who almost each had selfie stick. The Babele rock formation resembling two old hags chatting face to face is fortunately surrounded by an iron fence to keep the climbers away. Not so lucky is the famous Sphinx that looks desperate toward horizon being climbed by people trying to get a picture on its top in the most ridiculous poses in spite of the numerous signs that invite for restrain. Between them path of rocks shaped as a snake eating its tail try to bring a more meditative mood to the surrounding zoo.
From the Sfinx is another hour to the Caraiman Cross, an impressive monument dedicated to the rail workers who died in the First World War. It was built between 1926-1928 at the initiative of Queen Mary of Romania being the highest altitude cross in the world at 2291 meters. The cross is 28 meter high with two arms of 7 meters, arms that the Communists wanted to cut and put on top their darling red star. Luckily it did not happen….At the end of the 1930s a generator was installed and the cross was lit in several religious holiday nights each year.
The descent from the cross is through Brana Caraiman, a spectacular road that skirts the mountain top winding on its rock side and going to Cabana Caraiman from where it may continue straight down on Jepi to Busteni. We backtracked to Piatra Arsa that we reached after about an hour and a half from the cross. The day was glorious and we lingered admiring the spellbinding views but we had no idea how long would take to descend to “1400” and all questions to various day trippers remained unanswered. We took the route to Furnica Peak at which base we got to a sign that pointed down to “1400” and following the path we merged at one point with the Summer Road, one of the ski slopes that I used to run. Unfortunately right at the crossing I could see the location of the old Varful cu Dor chalet burnt down, only a metal skeleton remaining. Last time when I stayed there I took refuge in a brutally powerful and unexpected blizzard that plunged the mountain in a dense fog and made me lose my way while skiing. Walking down the Summer Road we got to “1400” after about 8 hours and a half with some breaks in between. A gorgeous day and it looks like that walking is not so hazardous for health after all even in Romania…