lidia restless backpacker


"When I’m on a trail, it gets quiet, it gets peaceful, I feel like I can breathe again and enjoy nature’s untouched beauty."

It’s been a couple of years since I started exploring the great outdoors. Up until then, I was mesmerized by stories about the beauty and freedom one experiences when finishing a climb, but never really managed to muster up the courage to hit the trail myself.

romanian forestWhile I did hike on short, easy trails just so I could get in touch with nature and embrace the soul-calming vibes you can only experience while deep within a forest, the true test came when I hiked the Jepii Mici mountains in Romania with a couple of friends.

I must say, I never felt more terrified or alive in my life. What was supposed to be a 5-hour hike transformed into a 9-hour endurance test where we felt like “this is it, this is how I die, I’m never reaching the top) but kept on climbing until we reached the top (second picture). During these 9 hours I:

  • Climbed giant boulders using a rusty chain meant to help much more experienced backpackers.
  • Came across numerous shrines erected for those braver than I but with a tragic fate.
  • Managed (somehow) to keep my wits about myself while slowly (and I mean slowly) traversing a very steep and very narrow path that was flanked by the mountain on the right and a giant drop on the left.

mountains romaniaWhen I reached the top, I felt like a winner. I felt invincible. You know that iconic Jack and Rose scene on the Titanic where they climb the rails on the front of the ship? Well, I was the queen of the world. That’s when I got hooked, so to speak.

Right now, for me, climbing a mountain is equal to rebooting my system. I’m a worrier and a perfectionist, so my brain always has multiple tabs open. But when I’m on a trail, it gets quiet, it gets peaceful, I feel like I can breathe again and enjoy nature’s untouched beauty. I know, it sounds like a cliche, but until you know what it’s like to feel pure joy while sitting 20 minutes in front of a moss-filled fallen tree trunk to observe the patterns left by time and forest creatures, you shall not cast a stone.

As for my goals, I want to keep on hitting smaller trails until I feel confident enough to climb the Moldovan Peak (2,544 meters), the highest in Romania. And who says I’ll stop there?

PS: I forgot to mention that climbing managed to help me keep my fear of heights in check.