|Piatra Craiului Ridge as seen from the East from Bucegi Mountains - Photo taken on 20th of October 2012|
I had a very light equipment. No camera and no GPS device. The GPS is of not much use on the ridge anyway. The camera would slow me down and reduce my concentration during this technical hike. All the photos posted here were taken during the hike I did on the same route two weeks before.
I had a small and light backpack. The most important items in the backpack were two bottles that contained 2.5 liters of water and isotonic drink; there are no water sources on the ridge! Then I had a bit of food with me: a few whole bread slices, hard cheese, an energy bar, and a chocolate tablet. I made sure that I ate very well the evening before and in the morning, so my batteries were fully loaded...
In the backpack I also had a tubular Buff headgear and an ultralight rain jacket. Additionally I had a very small first aid kit; and of course, my telephone!
On me I had normal trail running equipment: trail running shoes, t-shirt, tight shorts and a white running cap.
|View from the rocky ridge of Piatra Craiului, on the steeper west side|
|Piatra Craiului Carnation (Dianthus callizonus) - an endemic plant to Piatra Craiului Mountains|
On the way up to the peak, in a forest clearing, just before the first cables of the trail we almost met a bear. We heard a short bark like sound, from the thick bush, about 40 meters ahead of us. The sound was immediately followed by the noise of breaking tree branches as the creature that produces the noise retreated deep in the forest. Judging by the noises it must have been a large and heavy creature, most likely a bear. Of course, we stopped on the trail and made some more noise to inform the bear that we are there. I guess that the bear knew very well that there was a touristic path as it disappeared quickly out of our way.
|The forest clearing where we almost met the bear|
|The ridge as seen from Turnu Peak|
|On the north ridge. In the distance La Om peak (2238m)|
After I returned home I did a little research about lightning strikes on the Internet... It was quite terrifying to see that if your hair raises it means that there is a lot of electrical charge in the cloud above and a lightning strike is imminent!
As we walked fast towards the peak, another lightning stroke; this time even closer to us. We now had a grassy slope below the ridge so we could immediately get lower. We walked on the grassy slope round the peak until we met the descending path. When we reached the path we rushed down the mountain. We could hear a few more thunders from the summit, but lower on the mountain slope it felt much safer.
We met two hikers going up to the summit. We told them to abandon the hike at least until the weather gets better. They looked at us in disbelief. We were just 200 meters below the peak, and here it did not look too bad... It started to rain a bit, but the visibility was good, no fog, no wind, the clouds were higher than the mountain and the thunders seemed away.
|The ridge as seen from Vladusca pastures on the eastern side|
|Down in Prapastiile Zarnestilor Gorge|
Next time when going up on the ridge, I have to be more careful about the weather forecast. In fact, thunder storms and lightning strikes are one of my biggest worries on the high exposed mountains. This time I thought that we could finish the hike before the afternoon rain that was forecasted... well, once again, the mountain showed us that we should not push our luck and that we should pay attention to everything that the mountain is telling us!
This year I plan to visit Piatra Craiului again on the 5th of October when I want to take part in the Piatra Craiului Marathon race. In the meanwhile, who knows, on a clear weekend day, maybe I will attempt the ridge hike again.