Hiking to Groapa Ruginoasă in winter

In a cold and foggy December morning we found ourselves somewhere in the Apuseni Mountains close to Vârtop. Snow was abundant everywhere around us so we couldn’t miss out on a short hike starting from the main road leading to Vârtop.

Brief useful information:
Date: 10th of December 2016
Route: DN 75 (last hair pin curve before Vârtop) – Groapa Ruginoasă (The Rusty Ravine)
Signposting:
Distance: 900 m 
Slope: + 154 m/ – 154 m
Duration: 45 min (going up), 30 min (going down)
Difficulty: easy (the first part implies steep climbing)
The snow was deep on the side of the road as we approached Vârtop, almost at the car’s side window level. When we entered the trail the situation was similar. The snow was well over our knees. However we were lucky enough that another group seemed to have done this route not so long ago so the snow was pretty compact on the trail. Thus it was easier for us to carry on 😀

The trail starts on the main road going to Vârtop in the last hair pin before Vârtop. You can see the big banner on the side of the road indicating this trail (picture above). The trail is short and accessible to anyone especially when there is no snow. On the first bit you have to follow the creek up the valley and at some point you have to turn left and go up in the forest. This is the steep part and is fitted with wood railings for extra safety.
Hiking in winter, even on short trails like this one, give us a special feeling. There’s an eerie silence in winter. You see nature from another perspective. A beautiful perspective that is, at least as beautiful as when it’s not covered in snow. You can see the tracks of the wildlife through the snow, you see their usual routes and you immediately realise that you’re not alone in the woods 😊

This winter we discovered the beauty of hiking in winter and now we’re addicted to it 😛 Until now we considered winter as being a time for hanging indoors and planning for the next summer’s adventures. Well, we missed out on a lot of action, I can tell you now. Try out some easier and shorter trails and you’ll immediately love it 😊
 
After about 45 minutes we reach the meadow on top of The Rusty Ravine (Groapa Ruginoasă). Everything was hidden in the fog and we couldn’t see anything. We were a bit disappointed. The good part was that we did a wonderful trail through a beautiful forest covered in snow!

As we waited for a while and hoped to see something nature had surprise in store for us: a 5 minute clearance window with no fog! Nature is the best! 😊
The Rusty Ravine (Groapa Ruginoasă) is a huge ravine that was formed (and still is) due to the erosion caused by water going down the mountain side. This exposed quartzitessandstone and red clay which now define the distinctive colour of this  huge opening. What a wonderful contrast it is between it, the green forest and the blue sky! 😊

Size-wise, the Rusty Ravine is about 600 m wide and over 100 m deep. The bottom of this ravine forms the Dry Valley (Valea Seacă) which also includes a spectacular section of gorges that can only be crossed using special climbing equipment.
 
Our route on the map:

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