01 January 2021

2020 Summary

 What a crazy year!

It started quite normal... with lots of plans, many flights booked in advance... All the plans crumbled under the pandemic pressure.

I eventually ran 500 more kilometres than the 2400 km target... what else to do during the lock-down periods?... Luckily I managed to get a window of less travel restrictions in September and managed to do a couple of epic mountain runs... see previous two posts.

Interestingly, 2020 is the year I ran fastest... the only year with average pace faster than 6 min/km... Looking an the total elevation gain it becomes clear why...

Let's hope that 2021 will soon get closer to normal... I do not have any plans... just dreams, waiting for the first opportunity to materialize them...

Overall statistics reported bu Strava for 2020 also include other activities that I recorded, such as walking, hiking and skiing. Adding an extra distance of 1800km and 5000m of elevation gain...

28 September 2020

Carpathians' Most Beautiful Route

Every year I return to what I believe is the most beautiful route in the Carpathians. 25 km of amazing landscapes; form some of the wildest corners of the Carpathians to beautiful mountain villages.
The route follows two thirds of the Piatra Craiului Marathon route, a race that I ran twice in the past. However I enjoy it more at a slower pace that gives me time to admire the landscapes.

Last year I witnessed the height of the autumn season with such amazing colors I have never seen in other parts of the world:

The variety of spectacular landscapes along this route is amazing. Starting in the deep upper valley of Bârsa River by Plaiul Foii, the route follows a mountain stream through the forest, going up towards the impressive western rocky side of Piatra Craiului massif. 

Once it reaches the base of the cliff faces, the route continues to climb gently between the huge rocky walls and the forests below, passing the most impressive scree areas in the Carpathian Mountains (lose rocks accumulations).

The views to the west are impressive. Endless forests and majestic mountains: Iezer-Păpusa and Făgărași massifs.

The route goes then up a steep valley (Valea Urzicii) and reaches the Piatra Craiului's southern end of the ridge in Funduri Saddle. This is the highest point of the route: 1900m, which is more than 300 meters lower than the highest peak along the ridge. The route follows the ridge for a short while, then descends on the other side trough beautiful alpine meadows. Here the view opens to the east. The view is dominated in the distance by the mighty Bucegi massif.

After crossing the grassy expanses of Joaca Pass the landscape changes again. The route reaches the beautiful mountain villages of the Bran area. The views are so peaceful and picturesque! We pass by Peștera village then through Măgura village.

From Măgura village, a short descent through the forest brings us to the famous Fântăna lui Botorog water spring. Time to refresh for the last few kilometres to Zărnești town, the end of this amazing route.

The start of the route at Plaiul Foii

Below the mighty western rock faces of Piatra Craiului

On lose rocks fields - Marele Grohotis Scree

Looking west towards Făgărași Mountains

The impressive rock arch of Cerdacul Stanciului

Getting higher towards the main ridge

View from Piatra Craiului Ridge

View from Piatra Craiului Ridge

Looking south from the main ridge

On the eastern side the views open towards Bucegi Massif

Looking North-East

Eastern panorama

Shepherds Hut on the eastern side of Piatra Craiului Massif

Beware of Shepherd Dogs!

Which way?

Crossing Joaca Saddle and leaving the main ridge of Piatra Craiului behind

Joaca Saddle

The picturesque Peștera Village

The picturesque Peștera Village

The picturesque Măgura Village

Last descent