The Gyilkos-tó (Lacul Roșu/Red Lake) and the Békási (Bicaz) Gorge, carved by the river with the same name, are located in the Eastern Carpathian chain, in the Hagymás (Hășmaș) Mountains.
The Gyilkos-tó (named by the Hungarians the Killer Lake), the largest natural mountain lake in Romania, is one of the most picturesque and „wild” lakes of the country. The lake has a unique charm, because of the stumps that come out of the water. These are not the „relics” of some lacustrian civilization, but the remains of a flooded pine forest. The lake becomes the mirror of the surrounding woods and of the Kis-Cohárd (Suhardu Mic, 1344.5 m) cliff, making it threatening, dark and mysterious. Its name comes from the red waters of the Vereskő (Verescheu) Creek which flows over the layers of red iron oxides and hydroxides.
The Békási (Bicaz) Gorge, surrounded by imposing cliffs and rocky mountain walls, was formed by the water of the Bicaz River over billion years, forming its passage deeper and deeper in the Jurassic and Cretaceous rocks. The way along the canyon is itself a dazzling experience: as the serpentine meanders of the road narrow down the river, one can reach Hell’s Gate and Hell’s Porch. This is Heaven for climbers: the 200-300 m tall limestone cliffs and walls are one of Europe’s wonders.
The Legend of the Gyilkos-tó (Red Lake)
There are several legends sprung from the people about the origin and formation of the Red Lake.
Once upon a time a beautiful girl, Eszter Fazekas, lived in the Gyergyó (Gheorgheni) area. She was as slender as a fir tree, with lips as red as blood, green-grayish eyes, and hair as black as ebony. On a sunny July day, Eszter decided to go to the Szentmiklós market. There she saw a handsome, yeomanly lad, who, with his bare hands, could fight a bear, and played the flute like no other; he was able to build a house all by himself, or even carve a chariot. Once they laid eyes on each other – and because love strikes unexpectedly, like a lightning – they fell in love. The young man bought Eszter a heart shaped gingerbread with a mirror in its middle and a sky blue scarf, asking her to be his bride. The wedding never took place, because he had to go to serve his bit in the army. Every night, after the sun decided to take a rest between the mountains, Eszter went out with her pitcher to the well, crying and waiting for hours and hours, hoping that the one she loved would return into her arms. Even the mountains felt sorry for the poor girl, hearing her heartbreaking crying and even more painful singing. But on a Sunday afternoon, while passing by the well, Eszter was seen by a thief chieftain. He got the girl into his saddle, galloping away with her between the cliffs of Kis-Cohárd, where he used to live. He promised Eszter the world – gold, silver, a diamond palace – as long as she would love and marry him. But she could not reciprocate his feelings, her heart beating for another man. She was waiting for her soldier fiancé to return. Seeing that Eszter’s love could not be bought with worldly goods, the thief lost his patience and tried to force her into marriage. Eszter hurried to her true, but silent friends, the mountains, crying for help. The rocky mountains heard the painful lament and screaming of the beautiful girl and answered her by summoning a heavy storm. On that July dawn, a huge earthquake „moved” the huge rocks of the cliffs, „sending” them after the thief chieftain. The stones buried everything in their way, not just the evil thief – Eszter and even a shepherd and his flock, who just happened to be out on the mountain on that morning. On the first Sunday of July the golden rays of the sun illuminated the cliffs and the stone-covered „mass-grave”. The valley, where the day before the crystal-clear Vereskő brook just had been following his old path was blocked by the collapsed hills and stones. The brook couldn’t just slice through the tough rocks so it drowned every tree, grass and flower, reaching the top of the highest cliffs, becoming a lake. One can still see the remains of the pine trees as they „reach out” of the water like some raised arms. The shepherds of these mountains named it the killer lake. This is how death was defeated and it transformed into life-giving and vital water. If one looks deep into the lake on a sunny day, the green-grayish eyes of Eszter smile back peacefully from the deep.