17 June 2013

Sky Running in Bucegi Mountains

June 16. Finally a dry day, after about 3 weeks of rainy, wet and cool weather... Again the mountains are shining in the sun light and I could not resist their call! 
Together with Andrei, we are going to do a second team training for Marathon 7500. This time, our route in Bucegi Mountains precisely follows the race route. Our route for today is a bit shorter in distance than half of the hobby race route. However it has more than half of the elevation gain, and covers many of the technical sections of the race route.

We start in the morning from Gura Diham, 4km from Busteni, at the end point on an unpaved road. This is a popular picnic area but we aim just a little bit higher... Omu Peak, the highest point on our route, and also the highest peak of Bucegi is towering above us, 1500m higher.

First part of the route, until Poiana Izvoarelor Mountain Chalet is entirely in the forest. We gain 450m in altitude. At Poiana Izvoarelor as we get out of the woods we are greeted with a nice view towards Costila peak with its abrupt rocky walls. From here, until the base of the Bucsoiu ridge, the route follows a watershed ridge. To the south the water flows towards Prahova river; to the norh to Barsa river and Tara Barsel (Burzenland). We are in fact on the old border between Romanian Kingdom and Austro-Hungarian Empire.

After a short section of flat trail we arrive on the bottom of the Bucegi northern abrupt. From here to the top we have a climb of about 1000m. We pass Bucsoiu valley. A beautiful memorial bench reminds us that the mountains can be a dangerous place on bad weather. It is not very uncommon that summer storms cause flash-floods that sometimes take hikers by surprise. A year ago, a young hiker was killed by a flash-food on this valley .

As we get out of the forest the slope becomes steeper. As we are climbing, the fog starts to engulf the mountain. It is not unpleasant as the fog is not too thick and keeps the air temperature cool, just right for our quick uphill pace.

The middle section of the climb has a few steeper sections. A couple of chains on the most abrupt section eases the climb.

As we approach Bucsoiu peak, a break in the clouds offers us some stunning views towards Malaiesti Valley. Down in the valley we spot Malaiesti Mountain hut.

The fog engulfs us again. As we are on the exposed main ridge of Bucsoiu it gets quite windy. Luckily the wind helps our climb by pushing us from behind.

 We follow the trail through the fog and pass Bucsoiu peak (2492m). The GPS reading confirms that we are on the top. A rather long descent from the top and then again an ascent. It should be the last one as I know that we are very close to Omu peak. A signpost confirms it! We are just 300m away from Omu Peak! A quick sprint and we are on the top!

 Omu hut is just on south-eastern side of the large cliff of Omu peak. We go in and have a 30 minutes  break, relaxing around several cups of hot tea - tasty tea made from mountain plants. Before leaving I replenish my water bottle with tea.

 Of course, we cannot leave the top without taking the conventional "Iwas here" photo...

From here we have a long downhill on Cerbului Valley. As soon as we start descending, the sun rays start to break more and more through the clouds.

I am surprised how well I feel running on this trail! In my light running gear it is different and far better than in my memories! Last time I walked downhill the whole valley two years ago. That was before I started trail running; I had heavy stiff mountain boots and a larger back-pack. I now realize how much more agile I am with trail running gear and how much more enjoyable it is!

The sunny weather offers us stunning views of Cerbului Valley! As we 'fly' downhill, the changing light and the angles stop us often to take photos.

We eventually enter again the forest. The descent is almost over.

We reach Poiana Costilei (poiana = meadow) and are rewarded by wonderful views towards the Bucegi abrupt. It is getting hot, but we are close to the end of the route.

From Poiana Costilei, a rather long and boring descent through the forest awaits us. 300m below we reach the valley floor and the unpaved road to Gura Diham. We run one more kilometer along the road until the car park. Luckily the road is wet from the yesterday's rain so the occasional passing cars do not raise any dust.

I enjoyed very much this run! We kept a comfortable pace as there was no point to exhaust ourselves. We did it in about 4h45, including all the breaks. I am pleased. Even in the race this would not be a bad time. We are now looking forward to participating in Marathon 7500 race... This year we are going to run  the shorter hobby race. I just hope that the weather will be as nice as it was today.