Last autumn I had a wonderful trip in the wilderness of Bodoc!
The mountains of Bodoc are located in the center of Romania. Part of the Eastern Carpathians, their landscape consists of broad plateaus and decidous forests. Their wildnerness is a marvel of nature.
We started trekking from Malnaș-Băi, a spa and mineral waters resort. Close to the more famous resort of Băile Tușnad, Malnaș-Băi has today lost its glitter. Old communist style buildings lay in decay in a place forgotten by authorities, despite the natural beauty of the land. The mineral waters here still attract people, especially locals, who seek them for their therapeutic properties.
Going uphill on the marked path, we surround ourselves by the autumn-clad forest. The more we walk, the colours around us become more vivid, with leaves turning to bright yellow or dark orange. I struggle anxiously, thinking of the full bloom of the colours up above. A lonely ray of light pierces the tree cover and makes its way down to the forest floor. It catches our eyes and warms our hearts with the joy only nature can create.
We now realise it that the tourist markings are nowhere to be seen and we followed a forest road that will not take us to our intented destination. No problem, lads! We cross the stream and head straight uphill, through the beech forest. We should meet the trail on the ridge and it’s nice to walk through the forest, rather that on a lumbering road. The climbing gets steeper, but nobody complains. There are a lot to see in the wild forest – mushrooms, animal tracks, tiny plants and, hey, is that a deer’s butt? It was, running out of our sight before I managed to switch to my tele lens.
We leave the forest for the mountain plateau at about 1200m, in a place beautifully named Vârful Pădurii (litterally “The Forest Top”). I can’t know what others are thinking right now, but I’m overwhelmed by the beauty around. Everywhere I look, the artistry of autumn is splashed upon the threes, shrubs and fields. It’s like we were crossing through a tunnel of orange, yellow and red and came out to a side of blue sky and endless horizon. Words cannot describe the moment.
The Bodoc plateau is a mostly flat place, dotted with lonely trees. A dirt road trails along it, bad news for any nature lover, for it allows motorised acces in a place where no oil should be burnt. However, we had the place for ourselves at the time; fortunately, pollution lovers only function during warm summer days.
We pitched the tents right between the road and the forest. The skies were blue and we were warm under the sunshine, but the wind was blowing hard. There was no hurry to go to other places. I enjoy the luxury of just lazying around in the middle of nature, with no objective set in stone, other than being there. That is what I love most about hiking. We spent the evening around a small campfire, driking beer and țuică and sharing many laughs.
The wind roared over night and morning was cold and foggy. Everyone was sound asleep when I unzipped my tent, popped the tele lens on my camera and went out for a walk. There was an attractive mystery to the mist covered plateau of Bodoc that morning. Autumn has frozen the mountain silent. Only the wind dared to break that silence, making leaves fly all around.
We leave camp at noon, quite late for any serious trekker’s standars, but a reasonable time for aimeless wanderers. We follow the marked dirt road to the peak of Bodoc, which, at 1193m, dominates the mountain plateau and offers stunning views on clear weather. It was not the case today, for the fog gave way to gray, heavy skies. From the peak we could only see as far as Ciomatu mountain – famous for its Sfânta Ana volcanic crater lake – and the nearby Baraolt range, a place I intend to visit the next autumn.
From the Bodoc peak, we make our way down to the village of Bodoc, following the forest road. Everywhere around us, autumn colours dressed up the trees. Here and there we found secluded clearings in the forest, places so inviting for a nature lover looking for a middle of the week adventure. Walking on the dirt road, I was very happy to catch a deer on camera! Bodoc was really good to us.