After the ‘warm up’ walk of day one, day two upped the ante somewhat to a 20km walk with a height of 2180mtr. The sun was shining brightly and the walk through the woodland path to the stunning mountain range was beautiful. We were again joined by a four-legged friend who made the walk look easy!
All the way up the mountain we were serenaded by the sound of cow bells, clearly rolling across the hillside – my overarching memory of the trip is soundtracked by those cowbells! The day seemed like a day of reflection for many of us, with people moving in and out of friendly conversation to reflect on the reasons for signing up to the trip. Many of us were there because of our own personal experiences: loss of a loved one, our own journeys with mental health problems, a need for adventure, a need to prove something to ourselves or simply to raise money for Mind, the mental health charity. Regardless of the reason, for me the day felt like a real sense of achievement, albeit almost surreal that after all of the months of training, I was actually doing it for real!
Soon the grassy hillside gave way to a more challenging shingle gravel and the brilliant sunshine disappeared behind a wall of clouds. We quickly realised that the Transylvanian interpretation of the word ‘undulating’ was very different to what we’d originally expected. For clarity: ‘undulating’ to a professional walker is my definition of a ‘steep climb’!!
At the top of the ridge, we came across a storm shelter – a little round hideaway to provide safety from any passing bad weather. Luckily it wasn’t needed and we trudged on across the ridge to start our descent down the mountain.
The group naturally split into walkers of different speeds throughout the day, however there was a constant swapping of faces – some walking quicker to join a conversation with the people up front, some stopping to remove or add layers of clothing depending on the temperature and ending up as part of a slower group. The ebb and flow of people throughout the clumps of walkers was my favourite part of the day. Sometimes you were ahead, sometimes behind (I was often behind!!) but regardless of the position in the group, no one judged anyone else and everyone was entirely focused on supporting each other through the day. This consistent swapping of groups also meant that new conversations were initiated over and over, helping us to learn about each other, our likes and dislikes and our backgrounds really quickly. I’m probably well- defined as an introvert and I often find it hard to navigate small talk, however, by cutting through the trivial conversations and really learning about each other, with no distractions other than the view, it was easy to bond with people, quickly stripping away any awkwardness and resulting in long and loud discussions about the passions we share.
For the full trip posts, visit the links below: