Apr 22, 2013 at 1:18 pm #1302058
Kind of a shot in the dark, as I've found little on this site (or in many corners of the internet in languages I understand), but I'm planning on hiking the Carpathian mountains this summer (mid-July) with a handful of friends. I think I'll be with them for one-to-two weeks. I haven't been able to find out very much outside of the cautionary "there are bears, lynx, and wolves!" tales and a handful of short, nice looking trails.
I've got a concern about denatured alcohol–I'm not really sure if it's readily available (we probably won't be near many cities), and what their products are. I know I've seen a denatured alcohol by country chart before, but I can't seem to find it and I didn't have the foresight to bookmark/save the file. I've got a Caldera ti-tri, so if push comes to shove, I can just use wood, but I'd prefer to use alcohol.
Also, I know there are brown bears, and we should take all typical brown bear precautions and hang our food/waste in odorproof bags, but are there any other pieces of gear that I might need outside of the norm in Romania? Any random advice that might make the trip more enjoyable? I think we'll probably be starting out from Bucharest and taking a train to Sibiu or Brasov.
Thanks! :)Apr 22, 2013 at 2:09 pm #1979437
@retiredjerryLocale: Oregon and Washington
Why are there so many wild animals in Romania?
Romania is wilder than most of Europe, partly because Ceausescu forbade hunting by ordinary citizens. Today Romania has 13 national parks, including the Retezat Mountains in the Carpathians, and more than 500 protected areas. The Carpathian Mountains are home to 60 percent of Europe's bears, 40 percent of Europe's wolves and 35 percent of its lynx. The hills are alive with stag, wild boar, badger, deer, fox and rare birds; the Danube Delta shelters small pygmy cormorants, the white grey egret and the white-tailed eagle. The Carpathian Mountains also boast the least-spoiled forests in Europe, rich in beech, sycamore, maple, poplar and birch. And some 1,350 floral species have been recorded in the Carpathians, including the yellow poppy, Transylvanian columbine, saxifrage and edelweiss.Apr 22, 2013 at 3:12 pm #1979466
@pgjgarciaLocale: SE PA
Jerry, you just sold me on adding Romania to my places to visit. My bank account hates you, but I appreciate the info!Apr 22, 2013 at 3:18 pm #1979467
There's a good Cicerone Guide to 'The Mountains of Romania' which may answer most of your questions.
CheersApr 22, 2013 at 3:20 pm #1979470
@dipinkLocale: Western Washington
Go to http://www.FrancisTapon.com, and see if he's got an e-mail you can write him. He's written a book called The Hidden Europe about his travels in Eastern Europe, including Romanian. He likely could give you info, or tell you where to find it.Apr 23, 2013 at 9:07 am #1979697
Troy, sounds like a wonderful idea for a trip. Wish I was going.
On the issue of denatured alcohol, have you considered just using the local spirits as a substitute in a pinch? In general terms I have always found that the further I get from civilization the easier it was to find inexpensive local "rotgut" of one sort or another. There is always some sort of very high alcohol level beverage you can purchase and use as fuel. In Crete if you could see a farmhouse or a shepherd you were just that far away from a plentiful Raki supply, most likely home made. Most of the time they would "force" me stop and have one with them while we chatted. The rules of hospitality do not admit to a rejection of this "offer". LOL This could get "complicated" walking cross country as you could get, though no intention of one's own of course, pretty messed up before the end of the day. But that is another story.
So one suggestion might be to learn the name and types of local spirits you might buy and use that if it is not too expensive. It might not be quite as efficient as denatured alcohol, but would probably perform acceptably. It would be the same stuff with different (less poisonous, sometimes only marginally so) additives, and perhaps a bit more water content (often also only marginally so).
However, one additional bit of advice would possibly be to acquire said beverage with a small amount of subterfuge – I have found it is a more or less universal truism that farmers nearly always think *their* version is the best in the country and might feel slighted if you openly bought it as a "fuel". If you can buy it from a merchant you should be able to get away guilt-free.
Also, don't forget your wreath of garlic (bears aren't the only worry you know)- you can attach your whistle and compass to it. Have a great trip!Apr 23, 2013 at 4:51 pm #1979856
I am pretty sure that you can find denatured alcohol in all big home improvement stores in Romania.Major west european chains present there are Praktiker,Mr Bricolage and BauMax (praktiker.ro,www.mrbricolage.ro,baumax.ro).
To my knowledge hikers don't take extra precautions against bears in that part of the world,other than avoiding solo hikes in bear country,but I am no expert by any means on romanian bears . I've been in the Carpathian Mountains in my early teens,it's a great place.Apr 23, 2013 at 6:10 pm #1979890
> you can find denatured alcohol in all big home improvement stores
So you would need to carry a fair bit between large towns? Hum…
How about gas canisters? Either screw-thread or Campingaz? Where can one find them?
PS: and how about dogs?Apr 23, 2013 at 7:02 pm #1979903
The French sporting goods chain Decathlon has 8 or 10 stores in Romania,including 1 in Brasov. You can find some Campingaz and Primus gas canisters there,I don't know if they are the type you need,here are some links to their romanian website:
I am more familiar with neighboring Bulgaria,where as I said you can find denatured alcohol in the home improvement stores and in some bigger grocery stores. The isopropyl alcohol is more widely available (every pharmacy) and there are pharmacies even in the villages (mostly the bigger ones).
In Bulgaria (and most likely in Romania too) the shepherd dogs are an issue,because shepherds are often careless about their dogs,so the local hikers carry firecrackers and sometimes pepper sprays. Illegal loggers (mostly gypsies) might also be a problem to hikers,but violent attacks on foreigners are rare.Apr 23, 2013 at 7:10 pm #1979905
@ouzelLocale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
"and how about dogs?"
If it is still like it was back in the 60's, be very careful around flocks of sheep if you run across them in less remote areas. I had a couple of scary run ins where the only thing that saved me from shredded hind quarters, or worse, was the shepherd calling them off. In the nick of time. They don't use chihuahuas to guard sheep over there.
Edit: From the previous poster's comments, it looks like things haven't changed much. So, yeah, look out, they're nasty pieces of work.Apr 23, 2013 at 7:20 pm #1979910
The Primus canisters are screw-thread and the same around the world, and suit most light-weight stoves. Excellent.
The Campingaz C-206 canisters are puncture style and not really safe. I would NOT recommend them to anyone. I had one leak in my pack.
The Campingaz CV-470 canisters at http://www.decathlon.ro/RO/cartus-cv-470-plus-238096673/ have the French Easy-Clik connection and will fit the French Twister stoves. They are not screw-thread, but the French stoves for these are OK (just heavy).
CheersApr 24, 2013 at 7:01 am #1980011
Great advice in here so far!
Perhaps a cannister stove would be my best bet. Maybe I'll bring it along with me. We haven't really mapped out a route yet or anything (as it's still 3 months away and we're not sure how many people will be joining us), so if we'll be around bigger towns, I'll go with the alcohol.
I'm really excited about the trip, good to know that the bears there aren't as big a problem as I had thought. Perhaps it's because they're not as accustomed to human visitors (and everything that comes along with that) as bears in North America?
Note taken about the vicious sheep dogs! I've heard the shepards are quite friendly, but I guess the dogs are a different story if they see you as a threat to their herd. Maybe I'll get a can of bear spray for the group.
Thanks for all the help :). More advice is definitely appreciated!Apr 24, 2013 at 7:20 am #1980015
@germantouristLocale: in my tent
When planning an international trip I always use the Campingaz' store locator:
A quick search has shown various sales points in Romania even beside Decathlon.Apr 24, 2013 at 8:47 am #1980047
When i was in romania a few years ago we flew in through bucharest. There we found a place that sold gas canisters. Hiking is quite popular in romania, so it is definitely possible to find this stuff.
We didn't bother too much about bears and wolves. There were plenty of their footprints on the ground, but they left us alone.
Other people may want to be more careful though I guess.
I read that book roger mentioned, I don't think it recommends brining bear canisters etc.Apr 24, 2013 at 9:07 am #1980053
"Note taken about the vicious sheep dogs! I've heard the shepards are quite friendly, but I guess the dogs are a different story if they see you as a threat to their herd. Maybe I'll get a can of bear spray for the group."
Local 'country' dogs can sometime be terrifying, and usually don't respond at all well to being either nice (beta submission behavior), or loud, or waving arms, or almost anything. They usually don't have the "I'm just barking at you in a semi-friendly way" attitude, but often act like they seriously mean to rip one of your limbs off if you come a step closer. I unfortunately have some experience in this area.
A small but possibly useful tip here I actually got from a shepherd once is this. Most of these country dogs have had … um … lets say certain past unpleasant experiences in common that can be played upon. It is astounding to me that it works so often, but if you pick up a rock (even an imaginary one) they will retreat or even run away. In fact, I have found that all that is necessary in about %80 of the cases is to make a gesture of squating down to pick up something. Most of the remaining dogs will take off when they see you have actually picked up something. Usually almost all the rest will do the same if you act like you are cocking your arm to throw (with or without an actual rock). If you reach this point and the dog has still not turned from alpha to beta you may want to back away. That will be one mean MOFO. It is up to you to decide if you want to wizz a "warning shot" over its head as a last ditch attempt, but I would not recommend further action – in that case you lost, and face it you are the beta in that contest, LOL.
In spite of the fact that I would never actually throw a rock at a dog, I have found that acting like you have a firm intention to do so is often enough, even when nothing else seems to work. I also find it amusing when some of the scariest dogs run for cover if I simply lean over like I am about to pick something up.
I'm not sure how well this would work specifically with sheep dogs as they are usually very intelligent. If possible a beta display toward their master is probably the best approach :-) However it works amazingly well on freelance uncivilized dogs.
Anyway, something simple you can add to you arsenal in case you need it.Apr 24, 2013 at 8:40 pm #1980279
When I'm going off the beaten path or for lack of a better phrase "3rd world" then I always bring along my bushbuddy. A woodburner is the way to go when you're way out there. I also found that due to an abundance of "herders" in many countries that animal droppings are plentiful and burn awesome! Haha.
Countryside dogs can be monsters, trekking poles and a good knife were always by my side.
Happy Trails!Apr 24, 2013 at 9:05 pm #1980288
"When I'm going off the beaten path or for lack of a better phrase "3rd world" then I always bring along my bushbuddy."
Yes, excellent idea. I use a Tri Ti alcohol setup, but I like knowing that with 2 of my tent stakes it makes a passable wood stove – thought not as good as a bush buddy. I'm sure one could survive quite well with that set up if somehow you were unable to find the right liquid fuel, or ran out somewhere where you couldn't resupply. It might be a bit of extra work, but you would not be in any kind of predicament as long you could find some dry sticks.Apr 24, 2013 at 11:48 pm #1980316
@danepackerLocale: Mojave Desert
I like dogs.
I think dogs are special animals due to their long history of living with mankind.
But I HAVE and WILL hit a dog with a rock when it intends to attack me or my dog. I have no problem teaching them a sharp lesson on manners.
Would I shoot a dog chasing a deer? Yep. Feral dogs don't belong in the woods or anywhere else for that matter.
But I was raised in Penn's Woods and we take a dim view of vicious dogs.Apr 25, 2013 at 1:16 am #1980329
@sparky52804Locale: Eastern Iowa
might think about making a couple of stakes out of ash, it is the Carpathians after allApr 25, 2013 at 2:52 am #1980333
@butukiLocale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Feral dogs don't belong in the woods or anywhere else for that matter.
Be careful when thinking like that in the countryside of a place like Romania. It's not America and local customs and ideas about how to do things will certainly be different. The dogs are there for a very good reason: to protect the sheep. Before you go, learn about the dogs and the way locals handle them. In the Pyrenees in France they have these enormous sheep dogs called Pyrenean Mountain Dogs. There is a protocol that you follow with them. Not following the protocol means YOU are at fault. The locals get very angry when you mess with their dogs and don't follow the protocol. Even in Romania the "wild" land is working land. People live on them and their livelihood (a very poor country) depends on the sheep and the dogs.
I have a French friend who plotted an unmarked route from southern Romania to northern Romania and walked the length of the country. One thing he said that was very important was the availability of water. Many parts of Romania are very dry and everyone depends on the wells along the unpaved roads to get water. Because many people still get around with horse and cart, the wells are spaced according to the resting distances for a traveling horse. Because the distances were bigger than the needs of a walker, he said it was important to make sure you have enough water to make it from well to well. I'm not sure about the Carpathians, but I suspect this goes for up there, too.Apr 25, 2013 at 9:06 am #1980397
"Be careful when thinking like that in the countryside of a place like Romania."
Other countries have very different rules on these sorts of things, and countryside is always different than the city. What you consider a feral out-of-control animal might, according the the local, be just be doing its job. Stick to imaginary rocks unless you want to run afoul of the locals.Apr 25, 2013 at 7:50 pm #1980609
Yes, locals can get pretty hostile over animal matters. If I ever had to defend my life from a vicious animal while being "out there", I'd immediately get out of dodge. They don't come for retribution in 1's or 2's, they come in mobs. I have unfortunately dealt with it before. However, that's small potatoes. Atop a mountain…none of that matters.Apr 25, 2013 at 8:07 pm #1980614
I spent nearly two weeks in the hills of Romania near the village of Tescani. I wasn't hiking, but spent each day walking the dirt road into the village.
Throwing rocks was very common practice by some of the locals to keep some dogs away. And the Chinese.
There was a girl with us from Korea. One day we were walking over a bridge into town and all of a sudden we heard rocks pinging off the metal bridge. Looking back, there were children from the village yelling and hurling rocks at us. Our contact person said they were yelling at our Korean friend because they thought she was Chinese. Apparently, they didn't take to kindly to her.
Anyways, feral dogs are simply part of life there. Remember, you're the odd duck.Apr 25, 2013 at 9:38 pm #1980632
@hikin_jimLocale: Orange County, CA, USA
I use a Tri Ti alcohol setup, but I like knowing that with 2 of my tent stakes it makes a passable wood stove – thought not as good as a bush buddy.
At least with the Inferno option, I thought the Ti-Tri compared very favorably with the Bushbuddy. In fact with wet wood, I'd rather have the Ti-Tri with it's wider, larger combustion chamber. On alcohol or ESBIT, the Ti-Tri wins hands down.
I haven't been to Romania, but I have read post that the puncture type canisters are the easiest fuel to find in outlying areas.
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