Hiking to Capra Lake – between winter and spring in the Făgăraș Mountains

Most of the tourists that visit the famous Transfăgărășan highway make a long pit stop at Bâlea Lake, the highest point on this highway. However, since it became such a big tourist attraction this place is crowded since it’s the host of the beautiful Bâlea lake and a panorama point for this truly beautiful highway.
 
But we know a short trail that leads to the best panorama point and is far away from all the fuss happening at Bâlea 😊

Brief useful information:
Date: 19th of June 2016
Route: Bâlea Lake- Șaua Caprei (Goat Saddle) – Capra Lake
Signposting:
Distance: 700 m
Slope+ 250 m
Duration: 1 h
Difficulty:  medium/hard (steep climb until Șaua Caprei)
This trail leads to the Făgăraș Mountains’ ridge right over the Bâlea glacial valley and starts from Bâlea Cottage right on the edge of the lake. Thesignposting of this trail leads straight up to the mountain top and, although you’ll have to do a steep climb, we promise that your effort is worthwhile. The objective: Capra Lake.

Not many tourists know that there is another lake above Bâlea Lake, and of course we’re talking about Capra Lake. This lake is the reservoir feeding the Capra Waterfall and the Capra river on the South side of the Transfăgărășan highway. It’s a peaceful place close yet still far from the uproar at Bâlea.
Although the indicator at the start of the trail says we should do about 30 minutes we actually did it in 45 minutes. The delay was caused by a trickier passage covered with snow, still.

Once we reached Șaua Caprei a dense fog surrounded us and soon ended our enthusiasm since we finished the steep climb part of this hike. We could barely see 50 meters away but we knew that Capra Lake was straight ahead. Our Labrador, Hany, was so happy about the patches of snow that she started running and playing like a mad dog 😋
Șaua Caprei is a crossroad for several other trails: if you go left you can reach the Vânătoarea lui Buteanu peak (2507 m) and if you go right you can reach Șaua Paltinu. However we continued forward towards Capra Lake and soon reached it. The fog was playing with us. One second we could see the lake, the other it was completely hidden in fog 😏

We decided to wait for a while in order to catch a window of opportunity. We ate and relaxed and after just a short while we got lucky and the fog lifted over the mountain tops. Then the sun came into action and really did some color-magic with the emerald-colored water of the lake. 
We really got the chance to see a beautiful scene. A half-frozen lake with its beautiful color, the snow patches still cleansing on the mountain’s slopes and the green grass regaining its powers after a long winter. Spring mode ON! 😋
And since we promised that climbing the steep slope is not without reward, well, from Șaua Caprei we saw the best panorama possible over the famous Transfăgărășan highway and Bâlea Lake.

A mountain is hard to conquer, you need to make some sacrifices but in the end, it will give you back awesome panoramas, colours and peacefulness. These are the things that stay with you for a long time.

Our route on the map:

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