23-Jul-2005 -- Well a new job and a new country – or place anyway – Kosovo has an uncertain international status. Also an uncertain power supply as I write this by candle light. Last Friday a colleague asked me if I was going away for the weekend – I said I had not planned anything – but it set me thinking and I quickly resolved to have a go at the nearest incomplete point to Kosovo – 570 km as the crow flies – 850 by via-Michelin – in Romania.
Fortunately Eastern Europe – even outside the EU is easy travelling for EU citizens and I was able to jump in the car (after printing some multimaps and a visit report or two (always the optimist) and drive across Serbia, and Bulgaria to Romania with few hassles (those there were concentrated on car insurance).
Leaving at 3.30 pm on Friday afternoon I covered 500 km on Fri eve and then after sleeping in the car I arrived near the confluence at around noon.
The instructions from the previous visitors were quite correct and it was easy to find the suggested start point. I did go a little further up the valley and came across an explosives depot – I suppose It would not have been made welcome here a few years ago in my UK car!
As previously described the track gives up after a while and then there is no alternative but to follow the valley up. The dry river valley was no longer dry – heavy recent rains in Romania have caused floods in several areas. I tried to avoid walking in the stream but the choice was tall nettles and brambles. It soon became clear that this point was not going to be taken easily and maybe the first visitors made a wise choice not going up. Adam Macer suggested a machete - good idea.
The valley is deep with steep sides and my GPS would only pick up 3 satellites – they were in a nice straight line and it would not give me a fix.
After a while there was a clearing on the east side of the valley and I decided to go up here. It was very hard going – steep and overgrown. At least it allowed the GPS to pick up more satellites and confirm my position.
After a further 30 minutes of climbing I eventually reached the point. 2 hours for 1.8km and 500 metres ascent is slow going!
There was no need to go out of the main valley and the point was some distance from the ridge line - I did not go on up to the ridge to see the rain from a different angle! The start altitude was 550 metres and the estimated height for the point on the web site was 875 metres. In fact the point was at 1020 metres – so a climb of almost 500 metres.
The return – as always – was much quicker; one hour only to the car. I stayed in deep forest as much as possible on the way to the valley bottom – slithering and sliding down the deep leaf litter. Once at the stream I abandoned all pretence at dry feet and splashed merrily down the stream – in the rain. I was soaked and had very scratched and stung arms and legs but satisfied with the point – stupid isn’t it! Near the bottom I saw a black and yellow salamander trying to squeeze itself under a stone. The next visitor is welcome to my watch – it came off somewhere on the way down – if you go at 7.30 am maybe you will find it by hearing the alarm go off. Anyway only a cheap Casio!
After the point I went to Sighişoara – home of Dracula with a fine medieval citadel. I didn’t stay at the Dracula hotel or eat at the Dracula café but slept and ate very well despite the thunderstorm. No time for more points this time – there are two unvisited on the Moldavian border and one more incomplete near the Danube delta. Another time.
That reminds me – I have not seen the points of Molvania “ a land untouched by modern dentistry” on the Confluence Project web site, I hope this strange omission will be rectified so that point baggers there can report on their achievements.