NEWT reports

The Newt 2007 took place in the Totes Gebirge region of Austria. Sepp's Deutsche Nachrict

This year's Newt team met at the Bad Ischl Bahnhof (train station), a small town nestling at the foot of the Totes Gebirge mountain range, south-east of Salzburg. Our small contingent, consisted of John, who had flown from the UK, myself currently living in Munich, and a carload of French enthusiasts, Bernard, Jacques and Sylvie, and of course the indefatigable Christian from last year. We walked through the town and set off from a farm on the outskirts, before heading up into the woods above. It was a grey day, and although the sun was not shining, at least it wasn't raining, and we had not gone 10 metres into the trees before we were all naked, taking photos and laughing. We walked under the trees shadows for a while, past large limestone outcrops, along the largely abandoned trail. After a time we had gone far enough for irrepresible Sylvie, who has had some very serious hip surgery, and she returned to the car with Jacques, to meet us later on further up the valley. The rest of us continued up through the forest, quietly tramping along the steep empty trail. After a couple of hours, we came to an impasse. The trees ahead of us had been struck by a storm some months previously and the hillside looked like (I imagined) a battlefield. Enormous trees were laying around like a giant game of "pick-up-sticks", for hundreds of metres up the slope. We stopped for lunch at our high point, before retracing our route back down the hillside, using a forest road to contour up the valley towards our target ridge. The view across the valley was stupendous, high rocks surging upwards from atop each alp, fluffy tree covered slopes all around under a friendly sky. Descending at first via a steep overgrown path, we switched to follow the forest road, and it was here we had our amusing public encounter of the day. On a bend of the forest track, a car drove slowly past the four naked men, and the female passenger was clearly surprised, and she brought her hands to her face in mock shock. What we found particularly funny was that she covered her cheeks, not her eyes - most amusing. Finally we reached the gasthof in the valley where we met Sylvie and Jacques once more, and had a well deserved apfelschoerle. This is fizzy water with apple juice, and it was amusing observing the French trying to pronounce such a word. Then we had dinner. We camped by the river under the trees and slept well.

The next day we set off along the valley and reached a bridge, under which ran a refreshing looking river - over and through the rocks - in and out of swimming holes. Christian just had to jump in, and Jacques set about monkeying around on the wet rocks too. The trail now wound it's tortous way up the side of a steep wooded slope, with no respite, ever and always upwards. The trail winding it's way past yet more storm damaged trees. Jacques was always trying, (and succeeding), to climb up the trees on the way up. I became tired just watching him leaping up the trunks like a happy-at-home monkey. We continued up and up until we finally reached a raised valley, where cows were gathered around small mountain huts, and a light mist covered every horizon all around us. We stopped at the Ischlerhutte, with a friendly hut warden, for lunch, and a warming hot chocolate, before heading on across the ridge in a light rain. As the rain gently fell, my umbrella, (usually the cause of much merriment), now came into it's own. Jacques wrapped up in a plastic bag, and Bernard donned a raincoat. Christian of course, (la Bete - the beast), strode on regardless, completely naked, wet and happy. There is no stopping this man, he even drove the entire way from near Paris to Bad Ischl naked in the car. During the week's walk, the ever calm Bernard went so far as to earn the nickname 'La Bete 2' because of his enthusiasm. Wending our way along the faint path, among the heather and high mountain flowers, we crossed the col and descended to the hut on the other side. No milk to be had here, surprisingly, so we had hot tea instead. At this point our party was joined by the erstwhile Sepp, the nacktbergsteiger, (naked mountain climber), from Austria, who arrived in the middle of the rain storm which started fortuitously just after we had arrived at the hut. After a break we set off once more and followed the long and steep track zig-zagging down the far side of the mountain. Some of us naked, some half-dressed and some well covered from the weather, the rain didn't let up. In fact the rain now set in for the night, and it was a rather bedraggled looking little group which turned in for tea and cake at the gasthof in the valley. Once in the valley we met up with John and Sylvie once more, who had found a couple of extra people. Pat and Claudie had arrived while we'd been crossing the mountain, having finally made the decision to join us, and had driven the 1,000 km to do so - they were to have a short but interesting trip. The group was now up to it's full complement of nine naked enthusiasts. It was still raining, so we sojourned to a very comfortable student accommodation apartment in Bad Ischl, and chilled out, (and warmed up), for a while.

The next day we decided on a short day so that both John, who had camped out alone in the forest that night, and Sylvie could keep up with the group, so we drove to Offensee, a charming lake nestled close to our descent of the previous day. We stripped off at the car park and sauntered along the forest track which skirted the lake. There was hi-jinks as we posed atop a fallen tree trunk on the lake side, and we met several day-trippers returning to their cars as we strolled along. After a short while we turned up into the trees, along a trail, and followed this for a while, turning to walk up the open valley of an old dry river bed. We left the trees, and the views became marvelous of the mountains around us, as we steadily gained height. We came at length to a dam designed to hold the stone back, and stopped for our picnic here. Salami and cheese, an apple and a little sunshine, good company and wild scenery - who could ask for more? While we sat around, Sepp set off up the slope like an unstoppable mountain goat, he had a great deal of energy just bubbling under the surface, and before long he had nearly doubled our height gain in half the time, and nearly managed to crest the outcrop ridge behind us. After a while we set off once more, returning to the lake side to look for somewhere to chill out, near some water. We passed more people on the shore, and one woman stopped to ask us what we were doing, I offered her one of my "visiting cards", explaining a little about Nacktivism, but she politely refused it, having at least read it though. We occupied a flat stretch of beach just around the corner from the gasthof and this meant we could nip around for an ice-cream, or cold drink. Meanwhile we went swimming in the cool but glorious lake, surrounded by green alps and blue skies, an idylic location. Pat floated across the lake, probably 1.5 kilometres across, on a large slice of log, which became waterlogged as he reached the other side. While he was walking back, Jacques, who was always game for a laugh, swam across too. Meanwhile we were planning an evening meal, and getting the French contingent all gathered in one place at any one time, was a bit like herding cats. Nevertherless, eventually we reached the gasthof on the other side of the lake, before they closed, and ordered dinner. As we started, the sky grew dark and heavens opened, the wind billowing the clouds around the valley, the rain beating down on the roof of our covered terrace. The meal was very pleasant and as we finished, so too did the rainstorm. The party now split with half going to the student apartments and the rest of us heading back to the lake with our camping equipment for the night. As we put up our tents, with the ever focused Pat asking me what on earth I was doing as I crawled into my waterproof bivouac sack, the rain started again in earnest. This time the rain didn't stop, and my bivvy sack proved to be waterproof no longer and I spent most of the night curled up trying not to squish the water with my toes in the now waterlogged sleeping bag. I hardly slept, and at about 5am I woke Christian and the others, and was gratefully sheltered in Pat and Claudie's tent, until the coffee was ready. We packed up in the rain, tramping back to the car, some naked, some dressed, and all completely soaked, before driving to join the others for breakfast in their hotel, with our tails firmly between our legs. We were going nowhere today.

That was really the end of the Newt for 2007. We stayed on another day in the hope of improving weather, but the rain just continued on and off all the next day long too. So I, even with odd patches of blue showing through, reluctantly declared Newt 2007 over. Even though we finished this year like damp squibs, it had nevertheless been an interesting week, we had all met new and enthusiastic naked walking partners, and we had been out and about in some of Europe's most fantastic scenery. Although we had been rained off this year, we were looking forward to Newt 2008, and all the naked hiking we can do in between.

What are you doing for the NEWT 2018 ?-)