This trek up in the Ţarcu Mountains has been a real highlight of my stay so far here at the research station. The team included Georg, Adrian, Jonathan and myself. The aim of the trek was to explore the walking routes towards Mt. Ţarcu.

We set out on Saturday afternoon, walking through thick beech forest most of the day. It was hard work finding the right route, often not on a trail of any kind. We were always happy when we reached even a small animal trail because it meant slightly easier walking. Finding a small opening in the forest to camp for the night was a welcome relief from the mosquitos and the dark forest.

In the course of our journey we saw a lot of wildlife. Those of particular interest were Bush Crickets, a Slow Worm, Grass Snake, Golden Eagle, Short-toed Eagle and Yellow-bellied Toad. One very special find was a greyish blue beetle which we later identified as a Rosalia Longicorn (Rosalia alpina). There was also evidence of a large amount of mammal activity. Bear tracks and faeces, wolf faeces, wild cat tracks, and fox tracks and faeces were found along the way. We were always wary going through thick patches knowing that bears walked the same paths we were walking.

On Sunday afternoon we met a man called Paul who stayed in a cabin in the mountains for the summer to watch over the cows that roamed in the grasslands. He offered us coffee and dinner with him which was very unexpected. We had coffee with Paul and then we decided to set up camp just up the ridge and to walk back down just after sunset to come back for dinner. The sunset was extraordinary and we all enjoyed a hot meal.

The whole camping experience in the Ţarcu mountains was absolutely incredible. Watching the stars and trying to identify the constellations after dinner was very relaxing and then going to sleep up in the cool fresh air whilst listening to the sounds of nature was wonderful and I woke the following morning very refreshed.

Our journey back on the Monday brought a lot of adventure. We had a slow morning, having coffee with Paul. Setting out, Georg and I explored if there was a good route up to Mt. Ţarcu and were pleased to find that there was. Whilst there we started hearing some thunder and thought it a good idea to get going down the mountain towards the river. We took a different route down along a forestry track that came out further up Raul Lung then where we started. Half way down, the storm reached us and we had to walk through a lot of rain and hail. We made good ground and were very happy to come out on Raul Lung. We still had quite a long way to go, walking along the Raul Lung road. Reaching a couple of fords, we realised how quickly the river rose in a storm. Taking an unstable tree bridge over one and wading through another we were very pleased to get a lift from a local back to our pick up point.

Overall it was a very successful and enjoyable trip. We found some good routes up to Mt. Ţarcu, found some excellent camp spots and saw just how diverse the mountains are with mammals, reptiles, amphibians, insects and plants. Arriving back, we were very excited for a hot shower, rest and to share the highlights of our trip with others at the research station.

By Angus Franz, student researcher in the Bison Rewilding Initiative