On our way back from the east, we crossed the Suhard ridge. This long ridge rises to over 7,000 feet (1,932 metres, to be precise), and forms a natural divide between our own Bargau (or Borgo) mountains, and the Bucovina ridges beyond. It is a sharp ridge of metamorphic rocks such as schists, full of veins of quartz, and a quiet and scenic place to ride. Back in the late 1700's, the valley beyond formed part of the border between the Austrian Empire and Czarist Russia. As a result, these mountains have a network of trackways that were made originally for marching soldiers and moving artillery. Now grassy and silent, they make useful riding routes. I've posted a photo of two of my group descending an old trackway, with the 7,000 foot Omul peak towevering over 3,000 feet above. This peak is high enough to have its own alpine ecosystem, with dwarf pines, dwarf rhododendron, and blueberry bushes.
On the north side of Omul, we passed a flock of sheep and goats passing through with their shepherds, hemmed in by impenetrable dwarf pine forest. These flocks move about the mountains, seeking grazing all around their allotted ranges. Each village has a section of the massif, where it sends flocks from May to September.
The most distant mountains on the skyline behind us and the sheep are in the Ukraine, the neighbouring country and formerly part of the Soviet Union. Now Romania is part of the European Union and the Ukraine remains a Slavic nation under Russian influence. So Romania is still, in a sense, a border nation on the fringes of two empires.