I (YO8SBR) look at mountain hiking in the temperate region, Romania - especially for SOTA - as a two season business. One season with liquid precipitation and the other with solid precipitation. I'll try to list the pros and cons of each:
My main concerns with summer trips are ticks and lightning strikes, then dogs and sunburn and then rain itself. In winter most of these problems disappear, but are replaced by others like freezing temperatures and extra equipment to carry. Still, as I put everything in balance, I prefer winter SOTA expeditions on Romanian ground (could be a very different story when talking about other regions, as altitude and position on globe can have a big impact on temperatures and weather).
As for the bears, in Romania they sometimes don't hibernate at all, so you can bump into them in any season. I think spring is the worst, because that's when they are the hungriest. Making noise constantly while on trails should alert and rid of most if not all bears. For extra protection you should carry bear spray - we don't. So far we've encountered bears twice. One time Andrei was walking silently in a creek and when he climbed the bank he met face to face with a bear (~20 meters between them). Both were startled and the bear decided to leave in a hurry, luckily not in my direction). The other time we heard a bear cub "screaming" and then saw the bear mother and another cub eating something on the ground at 100m range (in a meadow next to the forest). They didn't see us at first, but we made some noise and the mother stood on her hind legs to get a better look at us, sniffed the air and then ran into the forest with her cubs. The same day we saw another huge bear with two cubs walking casually on the road, but we were in the car at the time so... it doesn't count.
Huge dogs in big numbers can also be a problem. We often encounter groups of 2-3 big shepherd's dogs, but we've seen 8 or more in some cases. Sometimes lifting a stick over your head can work, but sometimes it makes them angrier. Shouting also works, but not always. We try to avoid their territory and calm them using passive actions, but when things get ugly we use a pepper spray (used it twice so far). The dogs retreat - looks like it's enough to spray one and they all retreat - and the effect of the pepper lasts only a short while (1-2 minutes, as observed) and without any long term damage, but the dogs lose interest. I wouldn't rely on the shepherds to save you. They are nowhere to be seen most of the time, but sometimes they can even be aggressive (it happened a few times already).
Hi, we're a team of hams from Romania. We're into SOTA and other activities. Thanks for stopping by!
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