Moldoveanu Peak (2544m) is the highest mountain in Romania, and most commonly done as a multi-day hike. But my schedule in Romania was tight, so I decided to do it in one LONG day.
I picked up a brand new Ford Fiesta (Avis Rent A Car) at Bucharest Airport and started on a fairly long drive to Brasov, then west towards Fagaras and Sibiu. Some few kilometers before Sibiu, I turned south onto the scenic Transfagarasan road and eventually arrived the pass (Balea Lake) at approx 2000 masl. It was almost midnight and instead of checking into a hotel/guesthouse, I slept in my car at the large parking lot next to Balea Lake. Early next morning I decided to start the hike from here, although in retrospect, I found out that I would have saved a few kilometres of walking by driving to a trailhead on the south side of the pass.
It was clear blue sky and surprisingly hot in the sun. I had to overcome a substantial number of passes, which meant extra gain and loss of elevation. The trail was well marked and therefore easy to follow. I had also downloaded the route on my GPS, hence it would almost be impossible to get lost. The trail felt like an endlessly long traverse, but the beautiful and expansive views in all directions gave a boost in motivation. I got to the top after 5.5 hours. Still only halfway, I started to get really dehydrated, and the single bottle of water I had brought was almost empty. On my way back I realised that it would be very uncomfortable to continue without water, because my mouth was like sandpaper. I decided to descend to Podragu Hut although this meant I would loose elevation significantly. Shortly before the hut I found a small stream, where I filled up one liter of water and put a purification tablet into it. When I arrived at the manned hut, I bought myself two bottles of Coke. The best drinks I've tasted in a long time!!!
I spent more than half an hour in the shadow of the hut, before I set off again. Instead of going the same way back, I decided on an alternative trail which traverse at a lower elevation. When arriving at the first pass, I realised what a stupid mistake this was. I noticed two more ridges (passes) in the horizon, which I had to overcome, before I would be able to get back on the main route again. The valleys between these mentioned passes were surprisingly deep, and the trail was partly covered with tall grass, indicating that this was a less popular trail.
I finally got back to the main trail, but it would soon get dark. Where I easily could have descended to the trailhead at the southern side of the pass (if I had been smart enough to park my car there), I had to walk another 4 km further west, not to mention two more passes to cross. This was a real killer at the end of the day. Eventually I arrived back to my car at Balea Lake. Altogether I had spent 12.5 hours on the trail, and my GPS showed exactly 30 km on foot.
After Moldoveanu I continued on a 2-day drive around in Transylvania, mainly to see Sibiu, Sighisoara (lovely little city), Brasov, Rasnov and Bran (the latter with Dracula's Castle).
Moldoveanu at EveryTrail