THE LOFTY MOUNTAINS. Great limestone walls tower high, their summits lost to sight even when necks are craned. Glittering like a dragon’s arched back, narrow, dagger-like, they color with the sun’s celestial circuit from blazing white to bluish-white, whitish-pink to rosy white. Sun rays fall through alabaster cliff-face windows, water courses the bottoms of abyssal valleys, look again, and canyons are dry: the water has been swallowed up.
Piatra Craiului (Prince’s Stone) is not one of Romania’s uninhabited mountain ranges, but the number of pilgrims there is bearable. Hidden among perpendicular precipices to the west, mountain climbers dangle like cliff-hanging woodpeckers, here and there dotting the mountain’s base, crosses with the names of those for whom the cliffs were too steep.
Travelers journey from afar to study the rare plants that grow there, Piatra Craiului blossoms like a botanical garden, colorful, glorious. Endemic to nowhere else in the world, Dianthus callizonus clings to juts and ledges in the cliffs. Hiking trails are not easily navigable, and it’s best not to suffer from vertigo if you ascend Prince’s Stone. In the span of a few short kilometers, you climb to a height of more than two thousand two hundred meters. Beware of storms on the ridge, it is so narrow there is often no place to cling. If you see a black cloud approaching, descend a little lower. Not too much, however, lest you draw close to unscalable precipices and chasms.
The further south you venture, the more deserted Prince’s Stone becomes. It descends between branches of two rivers – the Dâmbovița and its slimmer sister, Dâmbovicioara, which rush through gorges. Northwards toward Braşov, the number of inhabitants grows.
If you plan to continue onwards to the Fagaraş, Romania’s highest mountains, cut across the Iezer and Păpuşa ranges, you will enjoy greater solitude, fresher winds, and broader plains.