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A human face carved by nature in the rock looks down, no one knows since when, on the waterfall of Magura Casinului.

It was discovered by Sorin Ichim, a teacher from Onesti.

Very proud of his ‘discovery’ after ‘long years of hiking in less accessible places’ of Bacau County, he named his rock friend ‘The Loner.’

‘It is an accurate name, as it is placed in a remote place, sits solitarily near the waterfall, as if guarding that wild place,’ the computer scientist and travel passionate explains the option for this name given to his unexpected discovery, which he hopes to become a tourist attraction in the future.

About the rock face carved by the winds and rain, the local people had only known from legends until teacher Ichim’s ‘expeditions.’

‘The Loner’ is only 20 kilometres away from Onesti, in a remote place, in a widely virgin forest, but, as those who were lucky to go to the area say, it boasts a fairy-tale beauty.

One of the stories talks about a young woman who, ‘back in the times when the outlaws hid in the ancient forests,’ is said to have hung herself for love. The legend also says that her face remained carved in stone and her tears turned into a waterfall.

Sorin Ichim’s discovery amazed the current inhabitants of the area, as none of them had anticipated that elements of the fairy-tale they were telling by the fire during the long winter nights could have a hint of truth.

To reach the waterfall on Magura Casinului Mountain, the traveller must walk over 3 kilometres through the woods. But the natural landscape makes the effort worth. On each side of the peak there are clear water springs, cascading on the rocky walls guarded by ancient trees. This is also the trout heaven, as it can easily be spotted in the clear water, but also that of wild animals such as the bear, the stag or the blackcock, very sought for by hunters.

Therefore, an area which is a happy plea for the time that lost its pace or a refuge for the city dwellers irritated by horns, hustle and existential anxieties.

*** In the area, a little over 6 kilometres from the nearest locality, there is also the oldest hunting lodge of Bacau County, still functional, as well as a trout farm, both located in a dream clearing, which the locals call ‘Intarcatoarea.’

Until 1990, this remote place could only be reached by a small train with a steam engine, the cars of which touched the branches of the trees of a dense forest. This was the only transportation mean used by woodcutters to carry logs or by the former communist dignitaries to go to the lodge.

However, trampling on its privileges and disregarding the natural uniqueness of the place, so-called investors greedy for immediate earnings through the exploitation of the old and valuable forest as tree species, eluding the thin layer between ignorance and promise, sent the small train and rails to a scrapyard, opening a road for large lumber equipment. The area was saved by the fact that the investors encountered the hunting lodge and the trout farm on their way, sought for by other investors, in their turn, landmarks which the foresters have successfully fought for until now with all those who did not see the general interest because of their own. And they have something to fight for, as the hunting fund in the Casin and Trotus Valley area could represent a challenge for passionate hunters worldwide.

The four hunting lodges of Romsilva Bacau are a starting point to sought trophies of stag, deer, wild boar, bears, foxes, pheasants and blackcocks.

‘Bacau County is known for its rural area, but also for the wilderness of its forests, as the best habitat for the Carpathian stag. The area of the hunting funds Pralea and Manastirea Casin are called by hunters ‘the golden circle of the Carpathian stag,’ says Romsilva Bacau director Viorel Ghelasa.

Near ‘Intarcatoarea,’ built in the interwar period, Baron von Killinger hunted two stags in 1943, world trophy specimens. Nikita Khrushchev also hunted there rare stag and bear specimens and the world record held from 1982 until 1990 by Nicolae Ceausescu came from the same area, near Pralea lodge. Moreover, the Romanian communist leader commissioned a hunting residence at Pralea, where he shot other nine stag trophies over the years.

After 1990, many hunting passionate foreigners enjoyed the hospitality of Pralea House, built in the middle of a deciduous tree forest, at a great distance from the rural localities, furnished with pieces carved by the craftsmen of Bacau County, as they began to discover with delight the hunting richness, but also the energising wilderness existing in the four hunting funds of Bacau County.

Each year these areas are visited by various world personalities, mainly form Europe and the East.

‘From the talks held, I understood they were glad that they finally found a wilder and more picturesque place than in Hungary, that they want to come back to us as soon as possible,’ hunting specialist with the Forestry Directorate of Bacau Adrian Titianu said.

One of the renowned hunters was, as Titianu recalls, a sheik who came to Bacau in February aboard a Boeing 707, with an over 350 seat capacity, but with only seven passengers aboard with no less than 65 suitcases. ‘He had come for the third time to hunt in the hunting fund of Pralea,’ Adrian Titianu says.

The trophies brought significant amounts of money to the ‘treasury’ of Romsilva Bacau, compensating the care the foresters of Bacau have for this richness — the game.

Important hunting trophies can also be found in the forests around Dofteana locality, where the princes Ghika built in the beginning of the last century a very beautiful palace, devoted mainly to hunters.

*** Those who came to the area were also guided to see a peculiarity of the place — Ochiul Huitoarei.

The locals often look at this grotto located in a rock vertically cut in the slope of a mountain, to find in advance if there will be rain or drought, thus scheduling the ploughing, the sowing, or the weeding, depending on how moist is the rock of the hill hosting the grotto, which is visible even from the road connecting Targu Ocna to Comanesti.

Even the mayor maintains that the best weather forecast has been and is the rock getting moist a few days before the rain, the water strip getting thinner until it is gone before a drought period.

‘It is the cheapest and most accurate barometer we have,’ he says.

The locals say that, when the coming rains are weak and short, the rock gets moist on the upper side, if it is going to rain for a few hours, the visible water strip prolongs to the half of the grotto and if a storm is coming, there is a stream flowing from the highest point of the amazing natural barometer to the foot of the hill, towards the people’s gardens.

The explanation of the phenomenon, the villagers also say, would be the existence of a salt dike that gets moist due to the invisible water vapours in the atmosphere, three-four days before the clouds appear.

Geologist Marius Georgescu does not believe that there is a salt deposit at Dofteana, as people say, because ‘the water flowing on the rock would have to be salty and no vegetation could grow on that slope.’

‘I believe it is about a permeable rock, which absorbs vapours when there is a high atmospheric pressure,’ the geologist points out. However admitting that ‘the phenomenon has not been studied enough,’ Georgescu underscores that ‘at Dofteana there is a very precise natural barometer.’

A fine connoisseur of remote areas or of natural peculiarities of Bacau County is Professor Dr. Catalin Rang, who for years has guided the students of the Faculty of Biology to know ‘the revelations of this county full of surprises for the one thirsty with the wonders of nature, especially the mountain and aquatic ones.’

‘A number of 34 natural protected areas have been declared in Bacau County. Out of these, 23 are of national interest, among which nine are natural reservations (Izvorul Alb, Darmanesti, Magura Targu Ocna, Balatau Mountain Lake, Darmanesti Monastery, Buciasi Waterfall, Casin Monastery, Perchiu Hill near Onesti, Arsura Margineni forest, Moinesti Pine Forest, Dofteana Alder Forest), five special protection avifaunistic areas, and 11 are important sites for Europe, but waiting to be discovered by tourists thirsty for the unseen. In Bacau County there are wonderful natural areas, with ancient traditions, too, such as the ones Prince Charles showed us in the area of Transylvania,’ Professor Catalin Rang says.AGERPRES