If you are passing through Harghita or Covasna counties during your next holiday, by all means, do stop by the lake Saint Ana. It is a unique place in the Carpathians - the only lake of volcanic origin in Romania. Access to the lake is gained from Bixad, a village situated at 40 kilometres from the national road connecting the towns of Saint Gheorghe and Miercurea Ciuc. From Bixad, the 17 km road is winding through a wood that literally covers it with a carpet of leaves by the end of the autumn. After 12 km of constant climbing we will reach a crossroad with a signpost indicating there are 3 km to Balvanyios and 7 km to Lake St. Ana. We shall continue this steep climb through the same wood and from time to time the clearings allow us to catch a glimpse of the gentle undulating profile of the Harghita Mountains, covered by the morning mist. Up there, on the crest of the mountain the wood becomes less dense and we finally get to the St. Ana Lodge. Those who are coming here must stop at a barrier: the reservation has been managed by a local foundation for the last years and they are in charge with the access and the cleaning. And they do quite a remarkably good job. One morning someone actually saw the head of the foundation collecting the garbage left behind by the tourists, a few kilometers away from the lodge, and this is something completely unusual for somebody who is called " boss". The access inside the reservation is done in a very civilized manner, that is, instead of the traditional tickets, the visitors get postcards with pictures of the area. On the nearby plain there is a huge camping site, which is also very proper. The legends of the lake From the lodge, we go down about 1 kilometer to the former crater and then we reach the lake. A pine forest, surrounding the area creates a variegated screen of vegetation. The place is beautiful in any season but nothing beats a clear sky morning, with swirls of mist hovering over the lake. There is a profound sense of calm, and only the occasional shrieks of a hawk in search of a mate may disturb the silence in this huge bucket. Nevertheless, during torrid summer days it could look like a giant swimming pool, as people are basking in the sun and making a lot of noise. On a normal day, the lake area is quite crowded, dozens of cars and buses with tourists getting here from both the inside the country and from Hungary. What else is there to do besides strolling around the lake? Sunbaths, swimming or boating. Like any other place of this sort, St. Ana Lake has its own legends, starting with the one about how the lake was formed. On the lakeside there is a catholic chapel and rumors have it that its magnetic field is quite outstanding and also that if you make a wish while in the chapel, it will come true. If you want to have a bit of fun on the way back to the lodge stop by the wall on which two yellow triangles are marking two hollows, a few meters from each other. If an acrid smell is felt coming out from the hillside hollow, the weather will turn bad in 3 days but if the smell is sensed from both hollows, there is big trouble ahead, and torrents will pour down. At least this is what the local people claim ... The Saint Ana Lake is in a very beautiful place, with mountains around, mountains covered with fir trees like a crown. All over the Earth you cannot find a more beautiful place. In the old times, who can believe it, on the lake place was a very high pick with a proud fortress on the top of it, with view over the villages from Ciuc and Trei Scaune counties. But it was not the only fortress in the area. At an hour distance, near the Stinking Cave, was another proud fortress. It was long, long time ago. Now there is no trace of the fortresses. Only their memory, a sad memory, still exists.
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