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Retezat Hikes: Piatra Iorgovanului and Scorota Sheepfold Explore the Wild Side of Retezat Mountains




The hike from Campul lui Neag to Piatra Iorgovanului Peak is really special to me because it represents the first peak I have ever conquered more than 5 years ago. It was my first serious mountain hike, that opened my eyes to the alpine beauty and that brought me closer to nature.



As a side note, ever since I was a child I wanted to sleep outside in tents but I managed to experience this too little at that time (don't worry we are making a strong recovery now). I remember that the first time I slept in a tent it was in a very organized surrounding, nothing too wild, but as a child this has forever remained a staple in my mind. It all happened at my grandparent's house where the whole family reunited a long time ago and because we couldn't all fit inside and there were no hotels around we decided to sleep outside in a tent.

I still remember our really big and colorful tent, that was really heavy and that was one great hassle to setup. It was a really old cloth tent with a classic pyramid like shape that was anchored in two poles, one in the front and one in the back. The waterproof membrane was made of cellophane and it was simply put over the structure and anchored to the ground with stones. I'm still surprised by the fact that my parents used to go with it to the mountains taking in consideration the tent itself was big as a mountain!

The simple idea of sleeping under the night sky seemed to me, as a child, a fantastic adventure, even though I was still in my grandparent's yard. You will either love tents or you will hate them, there is no middle way and for me it was love at first sight!




Five years ago when I climbed a big mountain for the very first time I remember that I was so cold at night that I almost cried wishing for the sun to rise! Back then I used to have a thin sleeping bag, a really bad tent and close to no actual gear or warm outdoor clothing. It was June and the temperatures at night were still dropping close to 0 degrees Celsius. I didn't even have a fleece jacket and I felt the low degrees really bad on my own skin.

I went to the mountains with whatever I had, some town boots that had a fixed length on my foot. I had sore feet for two days because of the descent that killed my fingers and nails. I learned the hard way how important gear is! After two weeks I bought my first hiking boots :)


The hike to Piatra Iorgovanului Peak had marked my initiation into alpine walks and it was the starting point of my love for the great outdoors!






The hike to Piatra Iorgovanului



In order to start the hike from the south side of the mountain you will need to make your way to the mountain coming from Jiului Valley - Petrosani, Campu lui Neag. The start of the hike is right across the road from the Campusel Hunting Lodge (on the right side of the road), where you will also find a small parking lot.





Go over the small river and follow the path on the right side of the forest clearing. In short time you should enter the forest on the blue triangle markings. From here the path zig-zags between trees uphill but it is very good marked.



Take your camera or phone with your as there are ample opportunities to immortalize. Mushrooms, moss, plants, trees - nature is really generous here.



Most of the hike is pretty easy, without any difficulties and the cool air of the forest is welcomed during the summer days.



Next, we leave the forest behind and enter the alpines area where the path leads us through juniper batches. We reach our first panoramic viewpoint where we stop to rest and take some photos.




From this point you will notice in the direction of the peak a large white rock but don't get fooled, this is not the actual peak. We will reach the peak at a later time but this rock gives us the general direction and it gives to some of us the hope of  reaching the final destination.



As a general advice, when your reach the large rock turn to the right and don't go straight. Follow the markings that lead you on the path that goes through the back of the rock.




We got somewhat confused in this area (Alex) as we made our way on the large rock. From the top was saw that the path to the actual peak takes us through a pretty deep valley with a steep wall, so we had to back track and to go around. I advise going around from the get-go so you don't loose time like we did :)




And we have reached the peak - Piatra Iorgovanului - 2014 m. The view is great so we stop for a while to enjoy it (as long as we can stand the cold wind). We admire the distant Retezat Peak and make our way back on the same path we came.









Hiking details - Piatra Iorgovanului Peak


  • Time: 5 h 30 min (walking time 3 1/2 - 4 h)
  • Distance: 7 km (there and back)
  • Altitude difference: +/- 800 m 
  • Markings: Blue Triangle
  • Water sources: None









Scorotei Gorge - Scorota Sheepfold Hike


We had a sunny morning and after some early yoga we packed our stuff, grabbed a coffee and went for a Sunday walk. Our target for the day was Scorota Sheepfold.






You start the hike from the same road.  Before Campusel, on the right side of the road, you will find a bridge over Jiul de Vest river that will lead you to the gorges.



Before starting the track our friends, Vlad and Cristina Căpriţă (căpriţă means goat) weren't allowed to join us as stipulated by the below sign, "No Goats Allowed!" :)) We didn't mind them tagging along as they seem to be of a good breed, walking on two feet and stuff!



The hike is really easy with only a few steep sections but manageable by anyone. A good part of it is through the forest and we end up in a mountain clearing surrounded by high peaks!




At the sheepfold a nice lady living there invited us in and gave us a tour of the facility, explaining how they produce cheese, where they store it, etc. For the road she gave us a piece of cheese... people living at the mountainside are always special in a good way!



If you continue to the right you will reach Piule Peak but the group decides to postpone it for another time - for now we will sunbathe. Easy said and done - each one of us chose his own rock and laid under the sun.

It was hard to leave but unfortunately, we had to as time was pressing us and we still had a long way back home.






Hiking details -   Scorotei Gorges - Scorota Sheepfold



  • Time: 4 h 40 min with breaks (walking time 2 - 2 1/2 h)
  • Distance: 8 km 
  • Altitude difference: +/- 400 m 
  • Marking: Yellow Dot
  • Water sources: Scorota Sheepfold













Where to camp


Cheile Buţii Lodge


We chose to camp next to the lodges at the Cheile Butii complex. The owners are used to have guests in their yard and they didn't even charge us for it. The only condition was to leave the place as you have found it, without garbage and without ruining it, something that is more than normal.

The accommodation complex here looks really nice, especially the restaurant area. I warmly recommend grabbing a coffee or something to eat here, the prices aren't that low but nothing to get scared of either. You can even choose to sleep in one of their rooms, overall the place left a really good impression.



Campuşel


You can choose to camp at Campusel, at the beginning point of the hike to Piatra Iorgovanului peak, but there are no facilities there and there is no fresh water spring. The area has a lot of growth potential but we are already used with the lack of camping facilities in Romania. Hopefully, things will change for the better in the future!





Retezat Hikes: Piatra Iorgovanului and Scorota Sheepfold Explore the Wild Side of Retezat Mountains Reviewed by Karina Isar on 12:02 Rating: 5

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