Early March still used to be winter season in my calendar during the past years. However this year I decided to start the spring season early and go to the low mountains in the Banat region to catch the first breath of life in these beautiful landscapes.
Together with Renata we left Timisoara early on Saturday morning and headed to Cheile Nerei (Nera gorges) where we planned to go from Podu Beului (Beu bridge) to Lacul Dracului (Devil’s lake) and back on the same day.
For the first hour the going was quick as the trail turned out to be a forest road that allowed for fast walking, with only the odd stop for taking pictures to the multitude of spring flowers already covering the forest floor.
After about an hour we reached Damian’s lodge, which now lays in ruins and the end of the forest road. From here on the trail starts winding itself on the narrow ledges of the cliffs barring the river’s edges, from time to time making human intervention (tunnels were dug in the limestone cliffs in some places) necessary in order to create a walking track to connect the lower and upper parts of the Nera valley.
After about 4 hours of narrow trail at the edge of the water and one crossing through the river’s frigid waters we arrived at Devil’s lake, formed in the depression left by the collapse of a cave’s roof.
Returning to Podu Beului can be done either on the same trail, or by a longer (yet easier) trail going to Sasca Romana and through the “tunnels” to Podu Beului.
The first week-end in November is a major cause for celebration for me and my friends as I get younger and younger as years go by. This year was no exception and we headed for Băile Herculane area on Friday evening to spend the week-end days on the trails of Cernei and Mehedinți Mts.
We have been accommodated in a nice big pension where we were the only people staying at the time which made it easy for us to enjoy the late nights in the company of friends (and alcohol!). After a very late arrival (around 1am) and a few beers we went to sleep in preparation for the next day’s itinerary.
Sat. 3rd Nov: The isolated villages in Cernei Mts.
The morning started with an amazing breakfast prepared by myself and Augustin, after which we split between us some basic food stuff that we had prepared to take to the old villagers living in these isolated places.
Our first encounter with the difficulty of living here was met shortly after entering the trail, as we reached the point named “The stairs”, where a series of four wooden stairways connect the lower part of a vertical cliff with its top part.
The trail takes us up to the church in Inelet where we meet the road connecting the villages located on the mountain slopes. Soon after, we reach the first houses where we start emptying our loads of food to every house we meet, to the delight of the people living there that thank us by sharing their late autumn fruits, out of which pears are my favorites. 😀 The villages are linked by an unpaved road that meanders through beautiful deciduous forests and open meadows used to graze peoples’ animals.
As evening started settling in we arrived at the church in Dobraia where we left the food that didn’t get to be distributed to the villagers as the next day was a Sunday and they could get it from there. From here a (not so) short and steep descent takes us to the main road that will take us gluttons to the first open restaurant in Băile Herculane to replenish our energy after a more than 17 km hiking trip.
Sun. 4th Nov: Domogledu Mare peak in Mehedinți Mts.
The plan for Sunday was to do a short easy hike in the Mehedinți Mts. as we knew Saturday night was going to be a long one and we wouldn’t be in the best of conditions. In the morning it was just me and Renata that got up for the hike and we changed the itinerary a bit to a circuit for this day in order to be able to descend where we left our car.
The path towards Domogledu Mare peak (1105 m) is well worn and offers some beautiful views towards Băile Herculane and the surrounding area. The first checkpoint is at the White Cross (Crucea Albă) where our path diverges, to the right and up the trail to Domogledu Mare peak and to the left and down the trail to Jelărău valley (on which we will return).
From here the trail climbs pretty steeply through a beautiful pine forest and reaches Domogledu Mic peak from which a short distance on an unmarked path takes us to Domogledu Mare peak. Here we took the trail to the left towards Jelărău valley, passing Mușuroaie meadow where there is also a spring. The descent to the White Cross is made through the dry Jelărău gorges that offer some interesting landscapes.
My old pair of hiking boots (Garmont Vetta Mnt GTX) has finally gave up on life on the trails so it was time for me to dip my toes in the market. After some hours browsing the online stores I had a pair of Salewa Mountain Trainer Mid GTX boots that were on sale at the time with a hefty 30% discount. However I decided to hit the shops in the city to see what they had to offer and I believe I hit the jackpot. Take a look at these babies <3!!!
Asolo Neutron GTX – for 1/3 of the price the Salewa Mountain Trainer is selling now!!!
High-tenacity nylon and suede upper with protective rubber rand resists abrasion
Gusseted tongue keeps out dirt and debris
Moisture-wicking mesh collar
Padded collar and tongue
Lite 2 anatomic footbed for superior comfort
Asoflex lasting board for support
Vibram® Radiant rubber/EVA outsole provides excellent grip and shock absorption
Made in Romania
I like the design and the sturdiness of their build and also the type of Gore-Tex membrane they used for these boots, as I noticed that the one without the name written on the inside which looks silvery is not as durable as this one.