October 20th to 24th
The National Park Cheile Bicazului and Hasmas Mountains are situated in the central North-East-region, also known as Moldo-Transylvanian-Carpathians. This region is located between the zones of Harghita and the Neamt area. The road meanders from Gheorgheni through the spruce forest over the 1,256 m high Bicaz saddle into the valley of the Bicaz gorge (Cheile Bicazului).
We met Mr. Angi Zoltan of the National Park Office. He showed us some locations on the map from where we could get a good view over the canyon. Starting at the Red Lake (Lacul Rosu), which is framed by a spruce forest with beeches and the steep rocky walls of the Bicaz mountains, we went on an exploratory trip through the beautiful landscape of the Bicaz gorge.
The serpentine mountain road leads steeply down to the canyon. The length of the Bicazului canyon is about 5 km. We have beautiful clear autumn weather but the further we get into the canyon the darker it gets. The contrasts between the dark canyon and the lighted rocks are quite difficult to master photographically. The views in this borderless and wild rock scenery change constantly, until we reach the deepest point which is also the narrowest passage.
There the brook and the road barely have enough space. The height difference is enormous. The deepest point of the canyon is 575 m and the highest point of the Hasmasu Mare is 1,792 m. Because of geologic and climatic conditions a specific vegetation could develop in the rocky areas with rare and endemic plants.
To photograph the dimensions of the Bicaz gorge from a higher point, we went to the 1,507 m high Suhardul Mara massif the next morning. With headlamp and pocket lamp we walked in the darkness up to the rocky massif. As we had tested the path one day before for potential difficulties, e.g. missing blazes or steep passages, we could cope with the darkness.
It was already dawning when we arrived on the rocky plateau. A purple fog covered the morning sky above the canyon. The view over this wild jagged rocky scenery was dizzy and breathtaking.
In the evening we drove back into the canyon and I tried to take some night exposures of the especially steep massif Piatra Altarului. As there is a road in the canyon, the headlights of the cars made it impossible to get proper pictures, and so I concentrated on another scene without street and headlights. The sky was very clear and I angled the camera on time exposure to let it expose one hour and thirty minutes – so that I could take photos of a star rotation above the massif.
We spent the night in the canyon near the Red Lake (Lacul Rosu), which is a specialty in the national park. It is named after the red shimmering clay. The lake emerged in 1837 after a natural disaster. One part of the rock massif slipped into the River Bicaz and created a natural dam. The spruces in this area gradually died and today you can see several stumps that reach out of the water.
On the other side of the lake there is the massif Suhardul Mara. The low evening sun lets the mountaintops glow in red light and you can see the reflection in the calm lake. The night was very cold and damp so that the plants on the banks were covered with frost. Mist lies over the lake and the water is slightly waved by a breath of wind. This is our last day in the Bicaz canyon. Here I took some pictures full of atmosphere.
Our last photographic station is a massif in the Hasmas Mountains. After a steep ascent we lost our way and couldn’t find the massif we had been looking for. In the evening dark clouds came up and it started to rain.
After about three weeks we start our way home. It was one of our most adventurous photo tours that we have done during the last years and surely it won’t be the last in this country full of contrasts.
Please note that blogs reflect our photographers' opinions and not necessarily those of the directors of Wild Wonders of Europe.