MTB Tours Padiș – Day 3: up on the Apuseni Mountains ridge back to Padiș

Our last day in the Apuseni bike tour takes us on top of the Apuseni Mountains back to Padiș and then down to Pietroasa where we started. Day 2 was really fun but my fall threatened the success and return in day 3.

Brief useful information:

Date: 15th of September 2014
Route: Răchițele – Apuseni ridge – Piatra Tâlharului – Padiș – Boga – Pietroasa
Distance: 45 km
Level difference: +1365 m/-1970 m
Duration: 8 h

go 🙂

In the morning of day 3 I felt a bit better after the previous day’s accident, but I was still feeling pain. I had to force myself so I wouldn’t ruin the day for my teammates. The good news was that I could ride the bike. This was the most important thing. The track starts in the forest on a forest road. Everything is green and wet. It felt like spring, not autumn. We get our first taste of the climbs we were about to do this day. Good way to start your day! :)) The climb turns into a flatter surface and we continue surrounded by this beautiful wild forest.

As we went further the road becomes muddier and it was pretty hard to continue. We started pushing our bikes and we knew that this was not the most difficult part 🙂 At one point the forest road we were on reaches a crossroad. My GPS track navigation indicated we should turn right. That was seriously bad news! The road to the right was narrower and extremely muddy and had an inclination of 29%… So, to summarise, we were in big…mud!

very hard

We started climbing to the right. Very, very slowly, 100% push – bike. Călin was wearing sandals…Not very inspired for these conditions. It was very slippery. While we were struggling to push – bike we heard a tractor noise. We hoped it was coming on this road and maybe had a trailer to take us and spare us the effort of climbing.

We stopped to see if it was coming our way. It was! We were very enthusiastic to say the least 🙂 It got closer and closer and when it came round a corner we saw that it had no trailer. It was just the tractor. What a huge disappointment! Our morale plunged to the ground :))

100% push-bike
100% push-bike

We continued in the same fashion: push-bike. Meter by meter. It was a big effort for us. Finally we reached the plateau, the top of the Apuseni Mountains. We couldn’t believe we made it through the nasty part of this track! Obviously we took a break. The wind was blowing really hard so we decided to change our sweaty clothes with dry ones. There was a lot of juniper here so we lay down to escape from the wind. We also find a lot of berries and started picking them and eating them. We also ate our own food and after at least a half an hour break we continued on the top of the Apuseni Mountains.

break among juniper after the long push bike

We followed the existing trail on the ridge of the mountains but we also had GPS navigation on, just for safety. You see grass everywhere here, everything is quite flat and wide and going further is pretty easy. From time to time you see some lonely trees and, more worryingly, signs of boars presence. It’s not ideal to meet with a pack of boars. They can be aggressive and they are very powerful. Fortunately we didn’t meet them 🙂 Some of the fir trees you see are burnt due to lighting strikes. It’s a reminder for us that we should avoid getting caught by a storm here by all means.

track on the ridge
burnt fir trees
Călin looking at a sheepfold

We realised that we intersected with a touristic trail, signposted with a blue line which we later discovered started from Vlădeasa Cottage and leads to Padiș or Stâna de Vale, depending on the direction you want to follow. The signposting, at least on this portion, was pretty rare. Don’t worry since the main trail is pretty obvious.
At one point we reached a tall wooden cross, a good place to rest and study the map for a bit. We realised that we were not far from a peak called Piatra Tâlharului (Thief’s Stone, ~1600 m). I saw this peak in some pictures and it looked pretty spectacular.

Călin looking at the signpost
break at the bottom of the wooden cross
to: Piatra Tâlharului
Piatra Tâlharului ahead

I was the first to reach Piatra Tâlharului peak. It’s pretty spectacular. There are a lot of boulders placed one on top of the other and they form a tall structure that is easy to climb. At the base, there is an information panel. I left my bike there and I started climbing to the top. Soon after, Călin and Mihai were also up on top to enjoy the nice view. The most spectacular part is the South-Western side where you can see tens of boulders from this peak crashed into the valley. You can also see Apuseni’s smooth ridges, full of grass, filled with extremely dense fir tree forests at the base. Typical for the Apuseni Mountains. It’s very beautiful.

view from Piatra Tâlharului peak
view from Piatra Tâlharului peak, North-East
view from Piatra Tâlharului peak, South – West
at the base of Piatra Tâlharului peak

You can see in the picture above there is a trail signposted with a yellow line which leads to Vărășoaia Cottage in Padiș. This is an alternative to our planned route but that meant going down earlier from the top of the Apuseni Mountains. We decided to stick to our planned route. We also had navigation available for it so it was safer. Our decision to continue on this track was the good one as we would soon discover when we experienced a very beautiful phenomenon. We had to go straight ahead until a crossroad. There, we were to turn left to go down to Padiș.

near the crossroad
dark clouds begin to gather

Dark clouds were slowly but surely gathering above us. Considering the damage that we saw a storm here can do to fir trees we hurried up a bit to reach the crossroad and then head down to Padiș. We finally reached the crossroad and we took a small break. While we were standing there we experienced a beautiful phenomenon: we saw clouds gathering down in the valley and then suddenly they started climbing towards us up on top. We were soon surrounded by clouds and we could barely see anything. It lasted for several seconds but it was really astonishing 🙂 You can see pictures below:

crossroad: left towards Padiș, straight ahead towards Stâna de Vale
surrounded by clouds
surrounded by clouds
going down towards Padiș, surrounded by clouds

After the clouds cleared we realised that our track continued straight down in a very steep descent. I was the only one courageous enough to ride the bike here. The road was extremely difficult, full with rocks which could make you lose control. I recommend you descend on foot if you don’t have enough experience.  It was pretty technical and I liked it a lot 🙂 I waited for my teammates at this signpost (picture below).

after descending from the Apuseni ridge
ready for an astonishing descent to Pietroasa, full speed ahead! 🙂

We continued descending towards Padiș. We passed by the trail leading to Cetățile Rădesei cave. The descent is really fast but is very technical. I don’t recommend it at all for beginners. Beginners can go slower though 🙂

Finally we reached the tarmac road on which we climbed to Brădeț Guest house in the first day of our tour. We took a break and got ready for the 20 km long descent back to Pietroasa where we left our car. We reached 50 km/h and adrenaline was at a maximum. It was a lot of fun! 🙂

Map (Răchițele – Apuseni ridge – Piatra Tâlharului – Padiș – Boga – Pietroasa)

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