Gâlcescu Lake – Parâng Mountains turquoise

During our trip to the highest road in Romania, Transalpina, we decided to go on an interesting route leading to the biggest lake in the Parâng Mountins: Gâlcescu Lake.
 

Brief useful information:
Date: September 2013
Duration: 7 h (both ways, breaks included)
Water sources: just before Vidal lake there is a waterfall where you fill up
Difficulty: medium (the only technically difficult section is the area called Lakes Chimney)
Route (both ways, same route):
Transalpina highway – Iezer Peak (2157 m) – bypass Mohoru Peak (2337 m) – Pleșcoaia Peak (2250 m) – bypass Setea Mare Peak (2365 m) – 2 h
bypass Setea Mare Peak (2365 m) – Lakes Chimney – Lake Vidal – Lake Gâlcescu – 1 h
 
Mohoru peak (2337 m)

This trail starts on the side of Transalpina highway just next to a sheepfold. We had our Labrador, Hany, with us 🙂 We had a bit of bad luck because the sheepfold was guarded by several big dogs and we were trying to make Hany invisible for them :)) We partially made it, but it took some effort and we hurried a bit to get as far from the sheepfold as we could. You can see the entire route on the map that you can find at the end of the post, as usual 🙂

The trail begins pretty rough directly in a steep climb 🙂 The first peak is Iezer (2157 m). It’s said that the first hour is the most difficult when trekking. In this period your body adapts to the effort. Once we reached Iezer peak we took a small break. From here you have a nice view over Transalpina’s tight corners climbing up towards Urdele Pass, the highest altitude Transalpina reaches, 2145 meters. From Iezer peak we can also see the imposing Mohoru peak (2337 m) which we will bypass on a level curve instead of climbing it. That’s fortunate 🙂

Transalpina tight corners. Hany is curious 🙂
Iezer peak (2157 m) – view towards Mohoru peak (2337 m)
view towards the North valleys

It’s a bit frustrating that after you climbed up Iezer peak you have to climb down and then climb up again to bypass Mohoru peak. While bypassing Mohoru peak we reached a flat section where we encountered sheep and Hany was extremely interested in them, to say the least 🙂 Where there are sheep, there are also dogs which guard them. So, to avoid any problem, I decided to run with Hany a bit higher up in order to avoid the sheep which took quite a bit of effort to be honest. Anyway, we passed the sheep and continued the pretty flat trail until we reached thesignpost. You have beautiful panoramas from here and we took a lot of photos until we reach the most difficult park, Lakes Chimney.

Hany in action
red triangle signpost until you reach Lakes Chimney

You need to leave thesignposting right after the trail makes a wide turn to the right and then climbs moderately until it reaches a plateau. Here on the plateau you will see thesignpost. You can’t really miss it because it is marked on some stones in the middle of this meadow, as you can see in the picture above. From here you continue straight ahead until Lakes Chimney area.
 
Lakes Chimney is a shortcut which takes you to Gâlcescu Lake faster but is more difficult to pass. I recommend having hiking boots and trekking poles in order to pass this area. I don’t know if you can tell from the picture below how steep it is but believe us, it was pretty steep. It’s full of slippery scree and to top it off there’s also a small creek flowing down on the trail you’re supposed to walk on. So it’s very, very easy to slip here. Before you go down through Lakes Chimney you can admire the view towards Gâlcescu lake and I advise you stop here and admire it from here if you don’t feel confident to cross this part. The picture below shows the view that you have before descending through the Lakes Chimney.

Lake Vidal (first) & Lake Gâlcescu (second)
Lakes Chimney (perspective after descending through it)
Lake Vidal (left) & Lake Pencu (right)

We were saying that Lakes Chimney is a shortcut. The alternative is to continue on the trail signposted withbypassing Setea Mare peak (2365 m), then continue to Setea Mică peak (2278 m) and you finally arrive in a place called Șaua Piatra Tăiată where you can find an intersection between several trails signposted with:,and. To get to Gâlcescu Lake you need to follow thesignpost which takes a brutal right turn. We didn’t go on this longer route because we would have lost about 3 hours in total. It’s your decision but it’s true that this longer route is much easier.
 
Coming back to our descent through Lakes Chimney, we crossed it very slowly and carefully. We were a bit nervous for Hany because she never before went on such unstable and tricky terrain. Our worries were in vain since she has 4×4 traction and she had absolutely no problem crossing this part :)) Step by step we exited Lakes Chimney but we were not there yet. We still needed to go further down but it wasn’t so difficult from now on. After you exit the “chimney” you see that this place actually hosts 3 lakes, not 2 as we thought. Near Vidal Lake you can see the smaller Pencu Lake.

waterfall between Lakes Chimney and Vidal Lake where you can fill up
Vidal Lake

Vidal Lake (picture above) is charming, very clear and has a beautiful turquoise colour. We turn right and continue on the side of Vidal Lake, through a region filled with juniper, towards Gâlcescu Lake. Several minutes later we’re on the banks of Gâlcescu Lake. This is the largest lake in the Parâng Mountains, located at 1925 meters altitude, having a surface of 30.000 square meters and a maximum depth of 9.3 meters.

We went round the lake so that we could take pictures from all possible angles 🙂 The mix between the colour of the lake and the grey big Parâng stones is spectacular. We stayed here for at least an hour and we also encountered a group of tourists coming to the lake from the alternative trail I described earlier.

Lake Gâlcescu
Lake Gâlcescu
Lake Gâlcescu
Lake Gâlcescu

We stayed as much as we could here on the side of the lake. We enjoyed the view, the clean air. It was very relaxing. We were also postponing the inevitable: climbing back up through Lakes Chimney :)) Finally we motivated ourselves and returned on the trail and on our way back to Transalpina. Climbing up through the Lakes Chimney is  less dangerous because you have more stability but, on the down side, it requires more effort 🙂
 
We made it through AGAIN and we were thinking that one day we will return and continue the trail signposted withuntil the highest peak in the Parâng Mountains: Parângul Mare (2519 m,  4th highest in Romania).

Lake Gâlcescu (seen from above Lakes Chimney)
Lake Vidal (seen from above Lakes Chimney)
Parâng Mountains ridge

We took a break just after exiting Lakes Chimney to enjoy the views and recover from the effort. A brilliant place to relax for a few minutes. We returned on the exact same route on which we came. We returned slowly but surely. Hany was running wildly. She enjoyed this trip so much. On our way back we went off trail for a bit because we wanted to eat and the wind was very fast. So we searched a safe place to eat, out of the wind and we found a big stone which protected us from the wind.

While we were eating Hany sit right next to us and immediately fell asleep. It was so funny, she was very tired 🙂 I admired the fact that after we finished eating and started off again she immediately got up and was up and running, literally :)) When we got to the car  she took a long and undisturbed nap until we reached Rânca, where we had accommodation. She did very well for an 8 hour trekking session.

Hany  :))
Map:
Transalpina – Iezer peak (2157 m) – under Mohoru peak (2337 m) – Pleșcoaia peak (2250 m) – under Setea Mare peak (2365 m) – Lakes Chimney – Lake Vidal & Lake Pencu – Lake Gâlcescu

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