There is something about wandering around in the mountains during wintertime that brings me a lot of happiness. Maybe the snow, or perhaps the mystery of such trails. The landscape can transform in a matter of minutes from zero visibility (because of the fog) to crystal clear skies and breathtaking views. So, this is one of my winter hiking experiences 🙂
Because of the pandemic context, at this time of the year, microadventures are the perfect weekend activities. Living a life of adventure doesn’t necessarily mean going to the North Pole (although that would be cool!). You can have a one day adventure very close to where you live.
What I love about these trips with Oxigen Tours is that you get to meet so various types of people. There are a lot of them who travel just like me, alone, enjoying the opportunity to make new friends and socialize. Other travel in small groups, or in a couple. They are of all ages, from young people in their 20s to 60+. I have a lot of respect and appreciation for the folks over 60 years old that keep going into the mountains and doing hikes like this one.
It is a medium hike in terms of difficulty. You should have a medium fitness level and be comfortable with 7-8 hours of hiking. The altitude difference is approximately 750 m from the starting point until the top. The duration of the hike may vary also depending on weather conditions and the amount of snow.
Here is what I took with me for this winter hike, I hope it helps you too:
- Winter hiking boots covering the ankle for best support
- 2 Fleece
- Snacks and 2,5 l of water
- Waterproof trousers
- Winter hat
- Winter jacket
- Thermal gloves and waterproof skiing gloves
- Trekking stick
What I didn’t have with me, and I wish I had :
- Thermos with warm tea. Drinking ice-cold water at -10 degrees can be unpleasant.
- Second trekking stick
How to get there
Here is the route I took until the starting point of our hike:
From Bucharest until the starting point, Muntele Rosu, it took approximately 3 hours to arrive, having one break on the way. You want to leave early in the morning if you wish to spend 2,5 – 3 hours on this road and not 6 hours. Usually, it is crowded.
Hiking to the Ciucas peak at 1954 m
The first thing I noticed while starting my hike was the sound made by the wind through the forest. It was almost like a song, welcoming us in these wild places. There is this stillness that you find in nature during the winter season. Apart from the movements of the trees and their song, everything is frozen. I felt these peaceful, harmonious surroundings made me pause for a few hours from my fast-paced city life. It is so incredibly relaxing to disconnect from the city, even for a short day.
The landscape was like a fairytale, with clouds and fog coming down on the trees while we were moving up to higher altitudes.
Then, I arrived at the Ciucas mountain cabin. I chose this hike also because I had the option to stay at the mountain cabin if I felt tired and did not want to continue until the top.
There I took a short break, had a snack, and changed my clothes with dry ones. I was feeling ok, so I decided to go on. There was little snow, so I thought it shouldn’t be that difficult. Partly, I was right.
Reaching the summit was delightful, but with no view. I made this trail two times during wintertime, and each time I reached the summit, it was windy and zero visibility. Oh well, maybe next time 🙂
The way back from the top was more challenging. There were a lot of slippery areas, because of the ice, so I fell a few times. Nothing serious, almost funny at some point when I was thinking it would be much faster and comfortable to stop getting up and just slide, hahaha! 🙂
The pace was pretty good, so when I returned from the summit to the Ciucas mountain cabin, I had another hour available for a hot soup and some mulled wine. I cannot recommend this enough! 😀 If you have the time, or if you are staying overnight, don’t miss the incredibly tasty food they prepare at this cabin!
Again the guides’ team was very professional. It is one of the aspects I appreciate the most while going on these tours. They organized extremely well the group so that we can respect the time schedule. As usual, they discussed with Mountain Rescue before the hike, making sure the trail is accessible, and there are no unpleasant surprises on the way. Their sense of humor and the information they presented along the way also proved this fact.
They were the guides for this trek. I highly recommend them:
- Razvan David
- Stefania Tene
- Lucian Alexe
Facts and figures
Cheia is a small mountain resort that is very close to the starting point. It is well known, primarily for the excellent quality of the air. Far from polluted cities, it is the perfect place for a weekend escapade in a clean, natural environment.
Ciucas mountains are a conservation area and part of the European Union’s Natura 2000 protection areas. There are over 1300 animal species in this natural reserve (chamois, deer, lynx, bears, wolves) and various plants. It is an extremely picturesque area of the Sub Carpathians. If you are lucky and you have clear weather, then the views are astonishing. Something like this:
It is why I get upset when I see fellow travelers throwing away paper napkins on the route. It is a situation that occurred on some hikes. When reacting to this behavior, the person was shocked that I was so annoyed. They even stated that they don’t throw away plastics, but only paper napkins, because they are biodegradable material. So, in their perspective, they were also environmentally friendly, because it takes 2-4 weeks to decompose.
Well, I believe it is a lack of respect towards other hikers, who will come on that same route and see your trash on the way.
So, as uncomfortable as you may find it, take a bag with you and put your trash in that bag while hiking. It shows your appreciation towards nature and other adventurers who want to enjoy its wonders just as much as you do.