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The Qualifying Journey
Transcript of The Qualifying Journey
Having completed our preparatory journey in the Fagaras Mountains, we set out to evaluate our weight distribution, athletic ability and organization; Thanks to our prior experience we could make changes to our previously overcumbering equipment and arranging a proper distribution of resources.
This in turn resulting in changes in the groups performance on the field as we were better able to cope with the rough terrain that we were expecting, helping us be better prepared for what the Qualifying Journey had in store.
When planning out our route we wanted to investigate glaciation in the Retezat Mountains by looking at the chain of glacial lakes: Bucura, Taul Portii, Taul Agatat, Florica, Viorica and Ana.
On the first day we made our way up to the Pietrele Chalet starting from Nucsoara, our gateway to the Retezat National Park, which is the first National Park in the country, established in 1935. On the following day, we departed towards the Retezat Peak (2482 m), through the Stanisoarei Valley, and hence we hiked the peak route that borders the Gemenele Natural Reservation, an area established by the National Academy and protected by law. We camped near the Bucura Lake, where we spent two consecutive nights.
The third day was dedicated to accomplishing our goal; we took pictures of the six lakes, looking at their distinctive features. With our objective completed, on the fourth day we made our way back climbing the Peleaga Peak (2504 m), down Saua Pelegii, through Valea Rea, to Carnic.
| The Route;
| Self-Reliance & Safety;
Our team was self reliant in completing the journey. Each of us took specific responsibilities in preparation of the journey, such as:
- checking the weather forecast and preparing the expedition equipment accordingly,
- making transportation arrangements to the starting point of the journey, and back, at the end of the expedition
- checking for accommodation in the area, in case the expedition got cancelled or delayed,
- food supplies and menus,
- video and photo coverage of the expedition.
A joint task was working out the route, finding information about the area, and completing the expedition cards. On this task we got help from our supervisor and instructor, Mrs. Johanna Croci.
| Time Planned VS. Actual Time;
There were no safety issues along the journey, with the exception of a thunder and hail storm on the third day, for which we were well prepared (we were well equipped and aware of the safety procedures).
An aspect we underestimated was the sheer number of insects which would assault us, more insect repellant and bite treatment would have been ideal.
The Glaciar Lakes
Having gotten at Bucura Lake and set camp, we finally could prepare for our objective: To investigate glaciation in the Retezat Mountains by looking at the chain of glacial lakes: Taul Portii, Bucura, Ana, Viorica, Florica and Taul Agatat by taking pictures and comparing geographical aspects of the lakes between each other.
| Lacul Florica;
| Lacul Bucura;
Tau Portii, or "The Lake of The Gate", is found at the highest altitude compared to the other lakes (2210 m), and is the second smallest in size. It has a depth of 4.7 metres.
The "Lake of the Gate" is situated under Poarta Bucurei "The Gateway to Bucura", which is the natural descent from the peak route that links the Retezat Peak with the Judele Peak. It is arguably one of the most beautiful lakes, as its clear waters reflect the Judele Peak towards sunset.
| Tau Portii;
| Tau Agatat;
| Lacul Viorica;
| Lacul Ana;
Lacul Bucura, or "Bucura Lake", has the biggest surface area of all the lakes we visited (8.92 hectares). It is the biggest lake in the Retezat Mountains, and also the biggest glacial lake in Romania. It is found at an altitude of 2040m and has a depth of 17.5 m. It is situated under the Bucura peaks (I and II), in the Bucura glacial circle.
The water of the lake comes from 5 different underwater springs, and it hosts fish such as trouts (Salvelinus Trutta) and amfibians such as frogs (Rana Temporaria and Bufo Bufo) and newts (Triturus Alpestris). The water level has decreased during the hot and dry summers, but also due to global warming. Near the Bucura Lake is one of the very few locations where camping is allowed in the Retezat National Park, and a permanent mountain rescue base camp.
Lacul Ana, or "Ana Lake", is the second largest of the Bucura circuit, having a surface area of 36200 sq m (3.62 hectares) t is found at an altitude of 1976 m, and has a depth of approximately 11.5 m. There is no marked path to the lake, but we found the path walking along the Ana spring. The lakes Florica, Viorica, Ana and Lia are set in glacial steps, hence the waters from Viorica form waterfalls that fill the Ana Lake and, from there, they pour into the heart-shaped Lia lake, which is set at the lowest altitude of the six. Lake Ana is also populated by fish (trout).
Lacul Florica, or "Florica Lake", has a total surface area of only 5200 sq m (0.52 hectares) It is found at an altitude of 2085 m and has a depth of approximately 1.8 m
"Florica Lake" recieves water from upstream from "The Hanging Lake" as well as draining down to "Viorica Lake" continuing down the Bucura circuit.
Lacul Viorica, or "Viorica Lake", is the midpoint of the lakes circuit. It has a surface area of only 8600 sq m (0.86 hectares) a depth of 6.2 m and is found at 2063 m.
"Viorica Lake" being overseen by a ridge of sorts proved quite difficult to approach requiring a quite winded path. The lake itself recieves water from upstream from "Florica Lake" draining into the "Ana lake" .
Tau Agatat, or "The Hanging Lake", is the smallest lake in the Bucura circuit, having a surface area of only 960 sq m (0.096 hectares) and a depth of approximately 2 metres. It has formed at 2155 m altitude, at the bottom of Turnul Portii. The height of the surrounding "Gate's Tower" and the Judele Peak make this small lake hardly visible.
The route plans were followed closely, both in terms of times allowed for journeying, and in terms of the actual route taken. On the first and second day we increased the time allowed for resting by one hour, along the route, taking more breaks than planned.
On the last day, we reached the final destination two hours earlier than the planned time, as we increased the speed of travel and took very few and short breaks. We have always reached the camp site at the predicted time, sometimes earlier.