Richard Foley (richinud)

Naked European Walking Tour 2005 – Thursday

February 20, 2015 in Naktiv

After breakfast, I walked up the streets in the rain. At Tienzens, I gained a farm track and stripped off quickly, so that I was now walking naked through the cool drizzle again. It was cold, because there was a slight breeze, but manageable if I kept my walking pace up. The tracks were excellent, with wide views across the Wiptal, as the paths countoured around the gentle slopes. I worked my way steadily south, through the several forests, past Steinach, then Stafflach, dressing briefly for each village, and finally arrived in Gries, as the rain settled in for the afternoon.

I had made good progress, and was not far from the Brenner pass itself, so I stopped for a break before continuing. Naked, I headed up the hill towards the Sattelberg, this time the path crossed over a stream multiple times, and my feet became very wet. As I gained height, the sun came out occassionally, as if to welcome me to the head of the valley. A small herd of cows were grazing on a high meadow that in the winter was clearly used as a ski run, and wandering nonchalantly between the ski-lift pylons. They didn’t seem to mind the naked man striding up their alp. The Sattelbergalmhutte was an impressive place with a long view down the valley up which I had just walked, where the clouds still swirled darkly, and to the south were the Kuhberg and the Wolfsdorn mountains, covered in a mantle of freshly fallen snow, perhaps 200m above my present height.



Naked European Walking Tour 2012 – Wednesday

February 20, 2015 in Naktiv

Wednesday July 04. Sandro decides to remain behind as he’s tired, and Helmut calls to cancel their joining of our tour today. We descend our long track once more and meet in Radstadt town just prior to starting our hike. Helmut and Conny decide to join us after all, and Sandro too, and we get going once he returns from his coffee stop in town. We ascend the long traversing road to the north of the town, and park on the flanks of the UntererSchwemmberg. We set off naked, accompanied by the beeps and jolly waves of a passing van, and follow the wide forestry track through the trees for a couple of kilometres. Suddenly the track stops, and we are not where I thought we would be. Some hasty map consultation, and David and I both take different routes through the forest to scout out possible alternatives. Neither are satisfactory so we have to do what is possibly the hardest thing for a hiking group to accept, and that is to turn around and go back the way we came. Sandro decides to take a lone path through the trees and, although he turns and rejoins the group when I call him back, then calls me “Mussolini” for being firm and dictating the hiking route to the group. We retrace out steps to an earlier footpath sign, and take this ascending steadily across the easy slopes of the hillside as the path snakes up through the trees. The trees provide a welcome shade from the hot sun above.

We continue upwards, passing a trail junction and meeting a couple of groups of people on their way down the hillside. We keep moving upwards, gaining height steadily now by following the wide wooded ridge, up past a hunting lodge and the busy top of a chair lift with restaurant, and several mushy high level ponds. The route continues with Mira getting more and more exhausted, and we’re looking for a good place to stop where everyone can be content. A few of us take a pause under the trees, while the rest head on to the base of a huge radar tower, just above us. The lunch stop is a welcome rest from the toil of walking uphill in the heat, and we bask in the sunshine, while I try to take a photo of the Polly monster dog pretending to be friends with the gentle Draco. After a long-ish stop, we continue along ridge, passing several groups of people, and begin the final climb along the easy sparsely tree covered ridgeback to the Gasthof at the summit of the Rossbrand. We dress to enter the terrace this time, as the place is very busy with families and people who have arrived here by driving up the mountain road in their cars. Stopping here for a welcome drink, when we leave, a number of people smirk at the various wraps some of the guys are wearing. Apparently, it’s ok for Scottish men to wear kilts, and for women to wear trousers, but it’s “different” when a man is wearing a simple short wrap. We head off, and split the group for the easy road walkers and the more energetic forest types. The path now leads steeply down the mountainside, and about halfway down towards the cars, we split again.

A small group go along the road to the cars, and the rest head directly down the hill to the town of Radstadt. I wait for Mira and Gianni, and Sandro to catch up and then we walk along the road together. At this point a pair of (rather cute) young women emerge from the forest, one carrying a baby who does not look so happy in the heat as they leave the shade of the trees, and turn to walk on ahead of us. Mira is topless and the rest of us are naked, and moving faster, so we quickly overtake the two women, with a friendly exchange of the usual mountain greetings. We pass another couple and then one of the young women overtakes us, as she descends quickly to fetch her car for her friend. As she passes us, she slows to have a 5 minute conversation with me about her day, and our day, and her friend’s baby. She is clearly comfortable with the naked guys she has met all over this side of the mountain today. We wave goodbye and call out for her to “have a nice day!” Once we reach the cars, we descend the long traversing road once more and park in the centre of town, before heading for the central square to find the others and have a coffee. The Dutch contingent are clearly on holiday, and order huge ice-creams all round. The rest of the hikers join us, I get an ice-cream, and then we jump back in the cars to head back to the hut for the rest of the evening and a rather superb Indonesian meal ala-Roland.

Naked European Walking Tour 2011 – Thursday

February 20, 2015 in Naktiv

Thursday dawned another warm looking day, and we could not believe our luck with the weather. Polly the Collie was not so lucky, being attacked with a vengance, as we came out of the door in the morning, by a cat who had three tiny kittens to defend from anything looking like a dog. Polly leaped back with multiple yelps and luckily only a sore nose to complain about. We went for our morning loo stroll, and the cat stalked us menacingly for a good hundred yards, arched back wide-eyed and ready to attack again. Polly was not amused. Today was going to be a short, although not uneventful, day, as we wanted to give both Mira, and especially Sylvie, an interesting walk. Because she has prosthetic hips and has had multiple problems with joints and many operations, (the story is too long and painful to relate here), Sylvie cannot walk far, and certainly not up and down the Austrian Alps, so it's particularly poignant that she chose to join our Newt this year, and I was determined she should have at least one dedicated day. Today was that day. We drove north around the back of the Leoganger Steinbirge massiv, and parked at the end of the Naturbad valley. We all set off up the easy forestry road, used by farmers, hunters, cyclists and walkers alike, removing our clothing some 100 metres from the cars. Somehow we managed to reach our target farm hut without managing to lose anyone, where we stopped for lunch and photos and much tomfoolery, leap-frog, etc. The team split into two, the larger part heading off across the Romerpass[] towards the Leotal, and the smaller staying behind for the short walk. In our group, Joop and I had managed to end up accompanying all four ladies, (including Polly in the count), although we were at a loss to understand quite exactly how that had happened. Nevertheless we tried to make the best of it, and after a little dutiful sun-bathing headed off up the same trail the others had used, towards the pass, Polly chasing sticks the whole way. Eventually we reached a pleasant place to stop and to bathe in the river and stopped a while, this being our high point. After some time we returned to the cars via the original route, and although this was a reasonably short walk for a fit person, I was still concerned for Sylvie and possibly over-doing it. As we approached the cars, and the cafe, we met more people, couples out walking, and a hunters car with maniacal dog, loose and barking wildly. An ice-cream saw the end of our day before we drove home to find out what had happened to the "B-team". They had been descending the other side of the pass, when they entered the Hochfiltzen military zone, where there happened to be a live shooting exercise at the time. This is supposed to be notified on a dedicated board at our starting point of the walk, (and wasn't), but never mind. The guard told everyone, including two mountain bikers, to stop while an escort was arranged through the firing range. The escort arrived and the motley group traipsed through the range to the other side. While no-one seemed overly bothered about the group's nudity, the police were indeed summoned all the same. Five (yes, 5) police cars roared up and out jumped the appropriate number of Austrian police, the naked group continued sitting quietly munching their sandwiches. Robert now rose, as leader of the hiking group for the day, and approached the police, he had the presence of mind to pick up his shorts but to keep them in his hand, ready but not wearing anything. Robert and the police, chatted for a while, and Gilles most impressively got all of this on film and is entertainment par excellence. The first police group were apparently trainees, hence the number being used for our benefit for impromptu practice. The real police turned up shortly, yes, still more, and our group dutifully dressed for them on request, before being asked to refrain from walking naked through villages and towns and on the main roads. In the mountains apparently naked hiking isn't a concern so long as there are no reports of any form of misbehaviour. This all sounds awfully like our own unofficial guidelines, thought I, on hearing the news, but pleased to hear it in almost correct form from yet another official. In the end, the group simply walked out of the military training area and caught a bus back to our farmhouse. If anything, the military appeared to be far less concerned by the nudity than the police, and the police didn't seem that concerned either. All in all, a most remarkable, and above all interesting, week, topped by Jim celebrating his 79th birthday with us at an all-naked dinner, with which even Mira joined in, at our farmhouse.

Naked European Walking Tour 2011 – Tuesday

February 19, 2015 in Environmental, Lifestyle, Naktiv

Tuesday dawned sunny once more, and we were met at the base of the Asitz ski-lift complex in Leogang village by the Salzburg journalist team of Fritz and Walter from the Viennese das Tageskurier newspaper. They were walking with us today on behalf an article on our naked hiking activities in Austria and the alps. We left the village and headed up into the forest again, Fritz getting naked almost before any of us, much to our surprise and satisfaction. We have had many journalists on our walks and naked boat trips, and it’s a rare one who actually joins in. Neither is it necessary for an observer/walker to strip off with us, but it was certainly refreshingly pleasant to see the effort to experience our adventure for himself, all the same.

We zig-zagged up through the trees until we emerged near a restaurant near the base of the ski-fields. The photographer nipped down to ask whether the people sitting on the terrace had any objections to our naked hiking group, the answer came back “no, some of them look quite nice, too!” I’m sure they were being selective and talking about Kathrine, and not most of the rest of us, at this point. We kept going up the fairly quiet trail-come-road below the gondola lift above our heads and next to the mountain bike track where various teams of whistling and hooting youngsters were practicing their downhill on wheels instead of boards, (because it was summer and there’s no snow at the moment). Everyone we met was either enthusiastic or neutral, we had very little negative reaction, until an official sounding man arrived with two cars just below the lift station and told us to dress as there were “school children and guests” (again), just above us. We were going to dress in any case to go through the busy section around the lift station, this is almost a rule, and certainly a guideline, for naked hiking, so his insistence was unnecessary and amusing. Nevertheless we naturally complied. We carried on, above the station, stripped off once more, and stopped for lunch. The journalists now left us to our own for the rest of the day as they had enough material for their story.

The group now split with Roland, Gianni, Chris, (who had been regaling us with most entertaining stories from appearing impromptu in various art installations in London at the South Bank etc.), and the rest of the Dutch team heading up to the top lift station before turning for home and following a ridge through the forest back towards the road and our farmhouse. Sylvie and a small group took the lift down while the rest of us headed back the way we had come, (because of a slight navigation hiccup – ahem), and wound our way through the trees until we reached the road once more. One part of our team also seperated to make speedier progress, got lost in a deep and muddy trail and wound up behind us at the car park. Ah, that special smugness which comes with being right. As if to make sure my smugness was not too great I nearly lost my dog in the forest, somehow… Polly came back though, covered from top to toe in sloppy mud and looking very happy – how can one be grumpy with a happy dog, especially when it finally comes back to you, smiling with a spring in it’s step and wagging it’s tail!

Naked European Walking Tour 2009 – Wednesday

February 19, 2015 in Naktiv

Wednesday started with us heading west-south-west and essentially following the line of pylons towards a distant notch in the ridge on the horizon. Robin stayed with us until we reached the Verbundshutte, before returning to the campsite, the rest of the group now continued up through the easy and winding forest trail, past damp undergrowth, ever upwards. At one point I almost stepped on a coiled snake on the path. The snake was black, with dark diamonds or chevrons, I was not certain. Before I could get my camera out, it disappeared into the recesses of the surrounding flora. We trudged on, through an increasingly barren landscape, the trees grew shorter as we steadily gained height, the rocks seemed to grow from everywhere, and the limestone clints formed partial trackways for us, then obstacles, and finally, (as Bernard pointed out), Henry Moore style sculptures with every step. All the way along the route we had seen warnings not to climb the electricity pylons, and as we reached the pass, we saw yet more signposts, almost the only sign of mankind in this wilderness:

It is VERBOTEN to climb the (very distant) electricity pylons, by order of the generealelectricityboardcontrolueberfuehrerblabla…

What we found so amusing about this, was that there were no warnings ON the pylons, only opposite each pylon on the walking trail, which at times was several hundred yards away from any pylon. If you look hard on the left you can just see a distant pylon in the picture . We joked that as soon as we had seen the pylons we had instantly felt an urge to climb them, and it was just as well we had the signposts to dissuade us, or who knows what would have happened… We lunched at the Hochwiessepass and contemplated the equally distant views of the valley on the other side, immense distances, vast and barren landscape of juniper and limestone. No water, no people, no (visible) animals. On the way back down we Milt and I saw a Marmot stand on a stone ahead of us on the trail and give a loud piercing warning squeek to it’s mate/family group: “quick, hide from the naked hikers!” We wound our way peacefully back to the campsite once more, laid in another bonfire and soaked up the mountain atmosphere as it grew steadily darker and cooler. Darker was the operative word as the clouds boiled from the distant peaks and a mist flooded the valley. This time, just as we were getting comfortable at about 19:00 we had a thunderstorm come in and threaten to dowse our fire. While the rest of us huddled under the shelter of the end of the hut, Robin did a stalwart job with his umbrella of guarding the fire from the rain and keeping it stocked with fuel. Indeed the temperature range he withstood, during the week, from raging alpine sun to stormy cool was extraordinary. His efforts at this time on behalf the fire were valiant, but doomed to failure as the storm whipped up an entire swimming pool more of the water so conspicously lacking up here, and dropped it all at once, extinguishing both the fire and finally Robin’s ardour. We sat under the hut’s eaves a while longer, chatting and cooling, until the rain abated, and we all went to our separate tents for the night.

Naked European Walking Tour 2006 – Thursday

February 19, 2015 in Naktiv

The next day, although the landlady had said she would like to have a photo of the group of us in our walking kit, (knowing we were a group of naked hiders), she let out a good natured squeal as Russ and I both went to remove our shorts to oblige, (we weren’t wearing anything else at that point). So it was back to the more traditional, dressed, group photo. We were sad to see Doug leave us this morning, and we set off up the other side of the Inn valley, behind Volders, down one more man. Rather than following the original route of a gentle path next to the river, we took an alternative route, this led instead to us getting lost high up a forest filled river gorge. Back-tracking out of here, we made our way up to a proper road, and followed this instead in zig-zags past a number of farm houses, tramping along the unforgiving tarmac. At one farmhouse the occupants laughed as we passed by and called out: “This is a very catholic land, you know!”, but good humouredly and with broad smiles.

We lunched at the Voldertallhutte Naturefreundehaus and, after a good rest, we took a contouring route up to the huts on the side of the ridge. The gasthofs at this place were all closed and I reluctantly agreed we could go yet higher to another hut. We set off again, tramping along an easy forestry track, and came to a thin trail leading to a hut set on the side of a steep slope. The places the alpine farmers build their huts and houses are truly remarkable, nearly defying gravity, let alone considering all the snow in the winter they have to contend with. We watched as far below, in the valley we had just left, a family worked to gather in the hay from a field near the river. Next we set off for the long grind up the steep slope behind us, through fields of juniper, occassional flies would gather as we sweated our way up the hill. The air chilled, as the sun dipped behind the hill, which made the steady pace easier to bare. Finally we reached the contouring path which took us easily around to the Tulfeinalm. The view down to Innsbruck and up and down the Inntal, were stupendous in the late afternoon sunlight, and as the gasthof appeared closed we were happy to make ourselves comfortable on the available terrace. As with most exhausted walkers, once you stop, the kit just spreads all around, over all the available benches, chairs and tables. While we had expected the gasthof to be open, (they couldn’t all be closed on the same day), and found it closed, we all pooled our available emergency rations, and had a hearty meal of salami, cheese, soup and tea. A kingly feast indeed. Just as we were getting comfortable and thinking about under which table to set our sleeping bags, along came the owner of the gasthof, and loudly demanded to know just “What the **** are you doing on my terrace? This is not a camping site!” We could not mollify the man, even when we bought a round of beer, so we packed up and set off to look for somewhere to camp for the night. As we trudged along the track, which contoured along the high ridge, the sun dipped behind the Karwendel to the north, a most beautiful sight. However we had more urgent business at hand, we had to find somewhere to sleep – the tumble of steep rocks was reminiscent of the top of Scafell and an ant would have a hard time finding a place to site a tent up here, at 2000m. I used my handy/mobile to call the operator to put me through to the hut marked on the map as another couple of kilometres along the ridge, to see if I could find out firstly if it was open, and secondly whether they had space for us. Fortunately our luck had improved, and the hut warden was friendly and welcoming, we all managed to just arrive at the hut at last light.

Naked European Walking Tour 2009 – Tuesday

February 18, 2015 in Naktiv

Tuesday dawned with a mountain coolness, several stiff and aching limbs, and an urge to get in a good walk. The spirit was willing, but the flesh was weak. Partly because Bernard lost a contact lens in the grass, (which we found!), it was past 10:20 before we managed to scrape the team together into a walking group, packed, ablutioned in ice cold mountain water and ready to go. The sun was just coming onto our tents, when a man strode past and seemed singularly unbothered by the group of naked guys he met outside this mountain hut / farmers summer quarters. We advised him to fill up with water, from the ever gushing pipe under the hut, which he did, and then he moved off towards the Tristkopf. This was our intended peak also, and so we followed his trail, up into the woods behind the hut, then to the Fillingalm, an abandoned summer pasture with collapsed hut and no water. As we approached the hut, a man was bending over the trail markers and it transpired he was repainting the tell-tale red-white-red Austrian flag on the entire route 450 on behalf the Austrian Alpine Club. I told him we were very grateful for the markings, as some sections of the trail so far had been a tad on the vague side. We continued above the juniper and reached a col below our final peak. The view into the Salzach valley was tremendous, steep, deep and noisy with the drone of so-called civilisation driving up and down the motorway, thousands of feet below. We turned our backs on that, and headed up to the Tristkopf summit, where I met the early walker just as he was leaving. He’d come up from Golling that morning and was now heading down to Sulzau where he was going to work, now that was a serious pre-work-walk. From the summit we now had views across the vastness behind the pylons and towards Germany and the Berchtesgaden region. The place was huge, and desolate, and beautiful, all at once. After an hour or so, of being hounded by flying ants and burned by the intense high altitude solar heat, (approx. 2100m), we descended towards camp, returning the way we had come. Robin slipped and stumbled occassionally and was looking very dangerous on quite easy but still steep terrain. I wasn’t sure if this was heatstroke, altitude issues, or whether he was just plain tired. Either way, we had to make sure he took the descent slowly, and not let him go any faster than was comfortable. I realised at this point that perhaps I had assumed too much in advance, always a danger for a leader of a group of mixed and unknown abilities on steep ground. We went steadily, and were soon out of the dangerous zone, back into the forest and wandering casually and happily back towards our tents. The hut had a couple of rings of stone where one could easily build a safe fire, and so we gathered up some firewood from the surrounding forestry and lit a small bonfire to keep warm. Our minds were beginning to ignore the pylons, and the view across the valley to the sunset behind the mountain ridges on the opposite side of the valley was simply stupendous, all the more so while sitting naked on a fireside log, sipping a little red wine as the limbs outstretched.

Naked European Walking Tour 2010 – Tuesday

February 18, 2015 in Naktiv

Day 2. The Tuesday dawned cool and fresh, with a couple of clear gun shots from somewhere on the hill above us. Clearly the farmer was out hunting nice and early and we were glad not to have met him with both barrels still smoking. We packed up and starting the long trail up the hill to regain the height we’d lost the day before. On our way up we met the friendly family again, fencing in the cows and protecting the hay meadows, they invited us to their place for an invigorating cup of fresh coffee and some cool fresh milk. This placed the previous day’s short setback on a positive note, and improved the start of our day beyond recognition. Our faith in mountain dwellers restored, and filling our water bottles from a handy pipe, we meandered up the grass and rocky ridge steadily towards the skyline. Anniki appeared a bit nervous as the ridge did indeed look quite steep from this angle, and she was tired from yesterday’s exertions. Not only was she carrying her share of camping equipment, but also a hefty movie camera plus lenses, microphone and tripod, for reporting on the trip. Oh, I thought, what joy to be young and fit again! However, the trail was easy, although there were a couple of places where one had to be careful not to make any mistakes on the loose and steep gravel covered rocks. It’s often on steep yet easy looking ground that experienced climbers and casual walkers alike are killed by a single careless slip, or a misplaced loose rock, so it’s imperative to always keep a clear head and a confident foot. Robert’s self-erecting tent packed into a huge circular coloured disk on his back, and gave him the air of some kind of space-alien, trudging naked across the alpine tundra. We made our way steadily up to the summit ridge, and took a break, before tackling the final slope to the large cross fixed by multiple cables at the highest point. Robert entered the NEWT info into the hut book for posterity, and we took our first summit photos, alongside several groups of French, Polish and Austrian, hikers. We passed, and interacted with, several mixed groups of clothed hikers, some were more curious than others, and almost everybody’s reactions to our naked team were fairly typical, seeming to find us mildly amusing and otherwise harmless. Polly’s unusual rucksack elicited similar volumes of comments. Walking on, we traced a line across the breast between two peaks, and along the ridge to the next summit, stopping for some more photos and a view down to our target campsite for the evening, the Rauchskoegelhutte. We had hoped the hut would be open, and we could get refreshments and supplies there, but we were disappointed to find that the hut was closed for the summer. Because there was no water available on the ridge at this point, a surprise given that the hut is so well marked on the local map, we sent down two volunteers, to the nearest habitation, for water. Robert and Roland descended with rucksacks full of empty water bottles, Polly disappearing to accompany them for the extra exercise. They came back an hour later laden with water and an extra couple of bottles of Radler, a refreshing Beer mixed with lemonade, donated by the friendly workers at the construction site below. As they were leaving our group on the morrow, Anniki used this evening to interview several of us about the hike, the reactions we receive from other walkers, our motivations, etc. We set up camp around the hut, and had just finished dinner when the darkening skies suddenly erupted around us in a deluge of wind blasted h2o. The rain found all of us quite unprepared for it’s ferocity, and it took several gulps of various intoxicating liquids before we could quite face going to our fortunately already erected tents to attempt sleep. Polly, for whom I’d placed a waterproof insulation mat under the vestibule, spent what seemed like half the night; squeezing out under the flysheet into the blasting rain and, because the angle of the tent material stopped her from squeezing back in again, I’d have to open the inner tent, open the outer tent, drag her back into shelter, close the outer tent, push the wet dog off my sleeping bag, close the inner tent, wipe off as much cold rain water as possible, curl up and try to go back to sleep. Only to find she’d crept outside into the rain again…

Naked European Walking Tour 2011 – Wednesday

February 18, 2015 in Naktiv

Wednesday dawned with low mist on the hills, which some thought looked like bad weather and the rest of us thought would be burnt off by the coming sunshine. We drove again to Maishofen, and this time turned north. We were able to remove our clothing differentially almost as soon as we left the road and crossed the bridge, once more zig-zagging up through the forest trails. After some time we passed an occupied farm with a dour couple who nevertheless exchanged greetings with us, and on and up again to a lone mountain hut which looked purpose-made for our kind of naked week in the mountains. A super view, tables outside, no neighbours to be concerned about, if only we’d been able to rent this place, we all thought. As anyone will tell you who has organised any kind of group activity, let alone a naked one, finding the perfect place is not easy at the best of times, and only made more complicated by changing numbers of attendees, and an indecisive organiser. Nevertheless with the experience of years, and some advice from Roland, perhaps next time. Roland had also brought Elgar along again this year, which was nice as Polly had something to keep an eye on during the day. The pace was a tad quick during the week from time to time, and we had to keep pushing back so the slower walkers could keep up and not become demoralised by the speedy gonzaleses at the front of the line. The daily-nominated Tail-End-Charlie was a difficult but essential role for someone to take on, and we were lucky to get a willing volunteer each day. More than once they were most definitely necessary, and today Roland set the pace for the steep section. Onwards and upwards again, until we finally emerged from the trees again amidst a group of cows and mountain horses hanging around near a couple of small huts. The main group headed off up the obvious (wrong) track, while I and a few others followed the map and the correct route. Even in glorious sunshine it was obvious how easy it can be to lose half your group on an unfamiliar mountain with well marked trails, and all the more so if the weather turned unexpectedly. The main part of the group rejoined the map-carrier some were sheepish, and some unrepentant, but alls well that ends well. We continued up the easy track across the mountain side, towards the ridge above, where we stopped for a group photo with our walk from Monday as the stunning backdrop. A man appeared on the trail below us, and somewhat surprisedly asked of our naked group: “what are you all doing?”, to which I replied: “walking in the hills, and what are you doing?”, at which reply he broke into a wide grin and said: “yes, of course, how silly of me!” We took a photo of the friendly man with our little group, before he headed off exchanging waves of mutual encouragement. We set off shortly after and mounted the ridge with stupendous views off to the east towards Saalfelden and the Steinernern Meer beyond. We met the man again at the summit of the where we took mutual photos and chatted about the mountains. He’s a local from Zell, and has been walking the mountains now for nearly eighty years, much like Doug (82 and chief pace-setter) and Jim (79), (both from New Zealand). He left us, and we had lunch on the summit, glorious views and a well deserved rest, before heading off along the ridge to the next shoulder. We passed a little group of mountain bikers, one of whom warned us about one of their team, a woman who had not had a man for a couple of years, quite cute and very dangerous apparently, especially as this was her birthday mountain bike tour! We stopped at a pool of water, perhaps 20 degrees on top and 5 degrees just one foot down, for a few of the lads to jump in and splash about. Polly lent a hand/paw to proceedings. We kept moving along the ridge, soaking up the atmosphere, the incredible views on both sides of us, the easy walking was a simple joy up here. Being naked amongst such scenery, finding little time for chit-chat and idle banter and we were all of us absorbed in our own thoughts as we were surrounded by raw, naked, huge, gorgeous, nature, (and sunshine). We took a path along the ridge through the trees, being overtaken by a friendly couple on mountain bikes. Gilles interviewed the man, and the woman chatted with the rest of us a while, before continuing on their own tour. We trudged on, and eventually arrived at the Biberg Gasthof perched halfway up the ridge on the other side of the hill, and with a stupendous view across the Leogang valley to the Leogang Steinberge beyond. Again, I asked the owner if it was ok to be naked on their sun terrace, away from the other guests. At first she misunderstood and thought I had said “nachtwandergruppe”, (night hiking group), instead of “nacktwandergruppe”, (naked hiking group), and questioned me as to how long I expected to stay (it being 1600 in the afternoon). Eventually the story became clear, and we almost got a refusal from the lady when the man of the house asked: “naked? from the waist up?”, and I replied: “yes, and from the waist down, too”, and he looked surprised (as usual), and then said: “sure, why not?”. So Robert, who had missed out on Monday’s adventure at the Hochzelleralm Gasthof to attend a funeral, had his own being naked at a mountain restaurant story to tell, his grin was as wide as he is tall. Gilles interviewed an enthusiastic lady cyclist on our terrace, and the owner came up to take a couple of photos, while we sipped our drinks, and lounged on their sun terrace deck chairs, tables and chairs. Below us several guests vied for the best seats and waved occassionally. Gilles interviewed a family group on the terrace and the kids were very enthusiastic, so much so, that when we left they stood up on their chairs and waved us goodbye with big grins and shouts of glee. So much for the usual drivel about children being upset about seeing naked people, and we wondered how their parents were going to get out of the naked walking holiday next year… We set off again, Gilles finding yet another, (pretty too), enthusiastic interviewee en-route. The question came: “what do you think of meeting a naked hiking group up here in the mountains?”, she replied: “so long as you don’t come at me with weapons, I’m perfectly happy about your walking naked in the hills”, Anton, (our GPS expert), asked: “weapons?”, looking down at his naked body, and she laughed. We set off once more, steadily losing height, talking non-stop about the interesting interactions we had had this day, and this week, and all too soon arrived at the base of the hill by the road. Now some people had a dip in the fast running stream next to the trail, and we all tramped back to the hut, looking forward to the meal which the Dutch team of Joop, Roland, Tony (from the Dutch Naturist Federation) and Wilfried, had gone on ahead to fix. We lost Andre today as the walking was just too much for him, even though we promised a short easy day on the morrow, especially chosen for the weaker walkers.

Naked European Walking Tour 2007 – Wednesday

February 18, 2015 in Naktiv

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.

Naked European Walking Tour 2005 – Friday

February 18, 2015 in Naktiv

I woke early to blue skies and leapt out of bed with enthusiasm. After a quick snack, I set off for the Italian border, my next and very close target. Although the sky was blue, at 1700m it was still cold at 0700 hrs, and my naked form shivered a bit as I approached the col along the path through the trees. I crossed a fence and descended into Italy, across another cow filled meadow. This was my last day, and I had just ticked off my second and last border crossing, things were going well and I felt good. Descending along the steep forest track, I met 2 groups of early walkers who were very friendly. Here I had my only encounter with a group who seemed to think I was really crazy. Maybe them being in a car made the difference. I had to lose 400m of height to cross the Brenner motorway, before I could start the steep ascent on the other side to the Leugealmhutte. At the hut, I met a friendly farmer, who engaged me in conversation about where his cows might be in the trees. The track now contoured, with a stone wall on the one side, steadily around the high alpine slopes. The temperature was perfect for walking, as there was now some high cloud to take the bite out of the sun, and no wind. In contrast to the forest walking, I could now look easily over the tops of the trees, to the alps across the valley, as they rose out of their deep, dark green and bristly, forest base. Arriving at the Enzianhutte, at 1894m my high point, I sat down to gaze at the view. Behind the hut rose a great ridge of rock and snow, the Daxberg. I made my way along the mostly contouring path through the trees. I turned a corner on the track and came across a field of Azaleas in the woods, the pulpy dark green leaves making a perfect background to the soft pink and purple flowers in the dappled sunlight. As I was crossing one wide open patch of grass, a line of people approached me and I had to stop, naked in front of them all, and step up a step, to let them past me on the narrow path. There were various friendly comments exchanged, and after 20 people had filed past, I asked how many were still to come. A woman answered: “Just a few more now…” Eventually I was able to continue and set off below a large rock ridge. An easy zig-zag path via a patch of open trees and a meadow of forget-me-nots took me through this looming obstacle and on to the Huhnerspielhutte, where I stopped and dressed for a welcome vegetable soup. I could now see Vipiteno/Sterzing far below me in the valley bottom, and the end of my walk was in sight. Stripping again, as soon as I had left the meadow surrounding the hut. I met several people on the final descent. The last was a single female jogger, who appeared to find the naked man, though unexpected, certainly harmless and perhaps faintly amusing, probably the most common reaction of all. Warm slabs of air wafted through the trees, and the crickets sawing in the woods now seemed to outnumber the chirping of the birds, confirming for me I was in the south Tyrol. Finally I reached Vipiteno where I met my wife who had come to meet me at the end of my slightly epic walk. The weather may not have been perfect for the whole trip, but neither had it been too bad to withstand, even naked at a height of 1894m. Of the 120 km I had walked, over 100 km had been naked. It had been a novel adventure and a personal achievement. This is the modern nudism in the 21st century, no more are we bound to explore this physical expression in isolated camps and secret places, nudism has legs, and every citizen, of whatever age, shade, size or shape, is free to take part. To save me the walk home, my wife came and picked me up in Vipiteno, and it’s nice to be able to rest my feet, (and keep my shorts up for a while 😉

Naked European Walking Tour 2005 – Wednesday

February 18, 2015 in Naktiv

The next day dawned sunny, and clear, but my feet were so sore and I was so tired, that I thought it a good idea to take a rest day. The Liga-Voelscampsite is a private club in an enclosure on the outskirts of Voels, near Innsbruck. It has a very family atmosphere, with many local people making up the active membership, and the stupendous view of the mountains rearing up behind the trees in the campsite is simply worth the visit. It was the ideal place to take a rest day, and I was made to feel very welcome.

Waking, I set off early and took a bus to the Bergisel in Innsbruck, where the olympic ski jump stands. From here the river wends its way south towards the Brenner. The weather was fair, and I stripped off quickly to follow the winding river path naked, through the trees. After a short tarmac section and a pleasant midday rest, I walked up the wide track of the forested ridge towards Schoenberg. This was perhaps the nicest piece of walking of the whole day. The sun came meandered between the clouds and trees, and the air simply glided over my entirely naked skin. The sun shone down between the trees and the shadows described the steep and green wooded slopes in the way of caressing fingers. I heard barking behind me and soon a young woman and dog appeared around the corner of the path. Because the dog was obviously quite excited, I decided to sit down and let them pass. The woman apologised for the young dog, who was clearly upset to see someone on what it thought was its own territory. The dog sat down and barked constantly and no matter what the woman did, it would not move. She tried calling and cajoling, all to no avail. Finally she ran off up the track and the dog, desperate now that its owner had disappeared from sight, jumped up and leapt past me, only to sit down again and continue barking. The woman gave up and came back past me with yet more apologies taking the still barking dog with her. Soon the path opened out into a field, the view from here in the bright blue sunshine, across to the alps, was simply stupendous. Having circled the small town of Schoenberg, I followed a track which ran parallel to the Brenner motorway. In the forest shade I made good time along the mostly flat paths although I got a bit dehydrated on this stretch as I’d been counting on finding water on the slopes of the forest, but all the streams appeared to have dried up. Eventually, I reached Matrei, and went to a gasthof in Elbogen who took me in, just as the heavens opened and the most torrential rain simply dropped from the now black skies, accompanied by loud cracks of thunder and lightening.

Naked European Walking Tour 2005 – Monday

February 18, 2015 in Naktiv

The first day I spent walking naked and alone along wet forest trails heading south and eastfrom Garmisch. The trail took me under the enormous cliffs of the Wettersteinwand towering above the tall pine trees of the forest. At the Ferchensee I saw a farmer and his children mowing the grass with petrol strimmers, instead of scythes, and making a lot of noise, perhaps the new tradition. I criss-crossed into Austria on the ridge at the Ederkanzel at 1150m, and met my first textiles of the trip here, a couple. We exchanged pleasant, if surprised, greetings and continued on our ways. I headed towards the Porta Claudia, a wall built to assist the Tyrolean freedom movement around 1650. I was pleased to find a hollow, next to the river Isar, in which I could bivouac, with a bush over my head to keep most of the rain off of me. Waking, I shaved in the cold stream without a mirror, and headed naked through the rain towards the Austrian border. I dressed to skirt the river through the town, stripping again as soon as I entered the forest and headed east. The path gently rose as it contoured the steep slopes of the Scharnitz forest. The air was cool and gentle rain fell over my shoulders and dripped from my hat. It was a curious thing that if there was no wind, the rain falling on my naked body felt quite mild. On the occassions when I wore my rain jacket, when I went through a town for example, I invariably felt much colder. About an hour into the day, I turned a corner on the track as a small group of perhaps 12 people meandered into view. I heard “Hello there!”, and the odd “Aren’t you a bit cold?”, as I walked past returning their various greetings with a hearty smile and a wave. I passed the wooden bridge at the Gleischklamm where the river fell steeply below me, tumbling into the main valley below, and headed south gaining height steadily. I got into a long mountain stride, as the forest track finally gave way to a twisting alpine path at the tree line, winding its way through shrubs and bushes. I was beginning to feel the altitude and effort here and my steps became shorter and less rhythmic. Several small parties passed me going downhill and I finally reached the col at 1806m, with the wind whipping at me. I slipped on my shorts, and entered the Solsteinhaus for a welcome hot vegetable soup. As I set off towards the Neuemagdeburgehutte, I stripped again and soon afterwards came to the top of a steep rocky gully, a klettersteig. I was really unprepared for this, because although the gully was not technically difficult, I was already tired after the days walking and was feeling the weight of my rucksack pulling me backwards. The last thing I needed was to negotiate 100m of slippery steep rock, without protection and naked, so I pulled on my shorts for some moral support. I set off gingerly, sometimes hanging on to the wet plastic coated wire with one hand, and trying to find a good handhold for the other. Facing the rock, I descended slowly and cautiously down the gully. The mist swirled about, and the rain threatened to come and go, as I tried to avoid making any silly mistake on my descent – I would only make one. This was soon behind me, but it had been a shock to find such a steep section on this track. I stripped naked again and after another couple of easier klettersteig sections, I emerged onto the pleasant grassy col at the Neuemagdeburghutte, and made my way laboriously, after a false start, along an easy but steep track down through the forest, past a group of isolated and apparently inaccessible huts used as weekend retreats. My feet were like putty as I negotiated the last stretch of narrow gorge next to the river into the village of Zirl. I dressed now and the first person I saw was a woman cutting her hedge. I must have looked a bit of a sight, because she immediately fetched her husband to drive me to the Liga-Voelsnudist campsite, my destination. The relief was enormous at not having to walk further, and that simple act of charity came with perfect timing.

Naked European Walking Tour 2006 – Friday

February 18, 2015 in Naktiv

After a good nights sleep, with at least 3 Couchon snoring through the night, we set off down towards the Meissnerhutte for an early apfelschoerle, passing our first really grumpy looking couple along the way. Now we followed forestry routes and met several happy cyclists as they toiled up and we strolled down the tracks. One couple were particularly friendly and stopped to chat for a short while. Of course they asked us what we were doing, were we a nudist group, where we protesting, etc. but seemed quite content when we explained that we were just out for a pleasant walk, with none of the hot and sticky clothes that they were so clearly covered in. They understood what we meant, but would rather not join, for the moment, thank you very much, as the bicycle seats might not be quite so forgiving without the padding… We tramped on in a southerly direction and, apart from a stupid decision of mine which had a suitably retribution-like ending when the fence I was climbing over collapsed and the barbed wire tore my leg, the rest of the walk went fairly smoothly until we stopped for a late lunch at St. Kathrein. The storm clouds gathered depth above the trees around us and after a good rest we set off under a dark sky. We had just reached Tienzens, in 3 different groups, when the heavens opened and Russ, Chris, Christian and I scuttled into a barn for cover, Konrad was still nowhere to be seen. We later found he had been waiting 100 m away next to a nearby church the whole time. The rain pummelled down, and we made ourselves comfortable in the dry and dusty field barn. We were nearly comfortable. After an hour or so, the rain eased and we headed for Steinach. Because it was still raining and quite cool, I put up my umbrella and the other 2 wore their rain jackets. I’ve walked naked in snow, and in the rain too, but it was just a bit cool for me at that time, Christian was the only one game enough to continue naked. When we got to Steinach the rain just got heavier and we were lucky to find a friendly Pizza restarateur who found us all a room for the night.

Naked European Walking Tour 2006 – Tuesday

February 18, 2015 in Naktiv

We camped next to the Isar, and the Austrian border, that night and the next day we dressed briefly to have breakfast at a cafe in Scharnitz before continuing our naked walk in the forest to the east. Both Christian and Konrad had a rather smart alternative to the shorts the rest of us were wearing, this was a cloth wrap, nearly a lightweight skirt. This enabled them to dress/undress in fractions of a second with no interuption to walking. Those of us wearing shorts (when encountering gasthofs, villages and the like) had to stop, remove our rucksacks, step in or out of our shorts, risking tripping over, and having stowed away our shorts, re-shoulder our rucksacks and continue walking. The wrap was a far more elegant solution, to the repeated performance, altogether. Walking through the forest, we approached a bridge across the roaring river below. The clanging of a herd of cow bells rang through the air, slowly drowned by the noise of more than 100 young people cheering a boy crossing the river by walking across a Tyrolean traverse (a single rope strung across the gorge). This was a new experience for most of us, being naked in front of so many people, but we just took it in our stride and set off across the bridge. We walked past the lines of teenagers to a round of cheering and much jocularity, the entire group seemed very relaxed at our unexpected intrusion. A man ran after us to film us briefly, to ask us what we were doing, and looked almost disappointed when we answered “We’re just out for a pleasant walk.” On this baking hot Sunday in July we met many more people on the trail up the Karwendel valley. Mostly mountain bikers, with a mix of small walking groups, families or couples, and individual sporty types too. One couple asked us where all the women were, and sadly we had to reply that none had chosen to accompany us on this particular trip – perhaps next time? The route continued up the long valley, past monumental cliffs and towering mountains soaring from the thick forests below. The phrase: “only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun” came to mind, as we tramped remourselessly along the long made-up trail, for hours, sweat dripping from all over, from all of us. We finally stopped at the Kastenalm, a high mountain pasture used in the summer for milk cows, which offered a menu of cheese and bread, meat and bread, or cheese and meat and bread. Simple fare, but we were all glad of it. The cool beer quenched our thirsty throats from the long days march. We decided to not go any further today, but to camp nearby amongst the trees near where the stones overflowed onto the flat plains when the spring thaw melted the snow and burst the river bank.

Naked European Walking Tour 2006 – Monday

February 18, 2015 in Naktiv

In July of 2006 a small group got together to walk from Garmisch-Partenkirchen in Germany, through the thinnest part of Austria and on to the Italian border – naked. This was the NEWT, or Naked European Walking Tour, and was planned as a repeat of a similar walk I had completed alone in 2005 and described on the web site. We started at 9am on July 1st from the bahnhof (train station) at Garmisch and set off beside the river towards the Mittenwald forest, discarding our clothes as we each felt comfortable along the route, between the town and the entrance to the Partenklamm gorge. The gorge cost 2 Euros each to walk through, and I paid for all of us so as to speed up the process. Although the lady behind the cash desk looked a bit bemused, she seemed fairly comfortable with the sight of 7 naked men queueing up at her counter. Another punter, one of a mixed group of clothed men and women hovering nearby, requested to take a photograph of this unusual sight, and curiosity satisfied, we set off up the cold, dark gorge. The water churned through the tight rocky confines, waterfalls sprayed from high above in the distant sunlight as we followed the winding trail carved from the eastern side of the gorge walls, just above the raging torrent below. The cool air blew freshly over our naked skin. We passed several groups of people in the gorge, one girl looking back as she held her mother’s hand, another couple squealed with surprise as they noticed us, but no-one appeared overly concerned, even this close to such a major tourist town as Garmisch. After a while we left the gorge, having survived the ‘blooding’ of our naked walk – our first encounters with textiles (people wearing clothes), and certainly not our last. We continued alongside the river, passing a pair of women on the opposite bank who waved encouragingly to us as they took photographs of this perhaps unusual sight.

All of us were experienced naked hikers but this was our first trip together. We were an interesting mix of people from different countries: including Britain, France, New Zealand, Switzerland and the United States of America. Our professions were equally varied including a librarian, an ex-prison officer, a grounds- and handy-man for a castle estate, a programmer and author, a translator and an unemployed wastrel. Although the average age was near 50, we ranged right up to 76! Extraordinary though it might seem, at 46, I appeared to be the baby of the group. An unrelenting grind up the Kalbersteig, winding through the trees, gained most of our height for that day. Konrad, the Swiss Bear, carried David’s old and heavy cotton Italian army rucksack for the steep sections, a mighty demonstration of solid mountain strength. We spent the day walking along forest trails below the Wetterstein, an enormous wall of limestone towering above the pine trees of the Mittenwald. Along the route we met several cyclists – a particularly pleasant encounter was one girl who rode through our group on her mountain bike giving us the thumbs up, and calling out enthusiastically and with a big grin: “Nice outfits!” After a pause for an apfelschoerle, (applejuice mixed with fizzy water, and very refreshing), at the Ferchensee gasthof next to an idyllic lake, we continued for another couple of hours and ended our days walk with dinner at the Gletscherschliff gasthof. Here we lost David, the American, the walk was too strenous for him, and his ancient army rucksack with very thin shoulder straps had proved most uncomfortable.

Naked European Walking Tour 2007 – Tuesday

February 18, 2015 in Naktiv

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.

Naked European Walking Tour 2007 – Monday

February 18, 2015 in Naktiv

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.

Naked European Walking Tour 2008 – Wednesday

February 18, 2015 in Lifestyle, Naktiv

The night passed uneventually, apart from the stray drip, and the next morning we packed up, during a brief lull in the rain, and set off up the hill in search of our mountain hut. It was still raining and a cool wind blew down the trail, and any thoughts of hiking naked were put aside as we simply wanted to reach the ridge with it’s prospective shelter. After a couple of hours, we spied a wooden shape looming from the misty rain clouds, and we gratefully entered the Schoenwipfelhutte, dry and windless, and warm, inside. We fed on hot chocolate, and egg and bacon and potato, and wine, and a dry bed. It was like a little piece of heaven. The family were up here milking their cows for the summer, manning the hut as a profitable side-line to their traditional farming venture. They were all very friendly in that special mountain manner, where people appreciate the environment and the fortitude it takes to live in it. They were also clearly amused by our tales of naked hiking, and even though they may have been a little disbelieving at first, we were made very welcome by all three generations. It’s an honour to be able to walk to a place like this, and to meet such friendly, honest and open people, and to be able to reciprocate such a feeling of mutual pleasure with the scenery, the position and the way of life, even while we all have slightly different expectations and perhaps daily live in otherwise wildly different lifestyles. As the rain continued to pummel down outside, we knew we weren’t going anywhere else today, so we opened a bottle of wine, and whiled away the day chatting, playing cards and generally drying out. Towards late afternoon the sky cleared, the sun came out briefly, and the clouds parted for some superlative views of the Julian Alps to the south, just as the the cloudy mists clung to the tree covered slopes around us. The home made Gulasch was an experience to be savoured, and we did. We probably had one, or two, glasses, or bottles, of wine too many, but ended the day quietly enough by admiring the stars brightly illuminating the entire night sky above us. The sky was so clear, with no so-called-civilisation light pollution, you almost felt you could reach out and pluck one from the myriad pin-pricks in the black-light quilt which stretched above us.

After a short and welcome breakfast we reluctantly took our leave of the hut and it’s amiable keepers, and turned west, following a trail past a mixed herd of cows and horses. As we started on the first uphill slope, we stripped off once more, and continued naked, nearly bumping into a small family arriving at the little chapel, with a pleasant sounding bell, on the ridge above. Walking on, we encountered an old farmer on the trail walking from the village ahead. And while he may have found us three naked hikers a little unusual, nevertheless he took the trouble to stop and to give us some friendly advice on the route ahead of us. We avoided the village by taking a route straight across the hill in front, down the steep grass on the other side, and headed down the valley trail towards the next border crossing. Enroute we passed what appeared to be a daughter, her mother and her grandmother, walking up the hill and looking as though they were going to join the streams of people heading for the higher summit of the Oiksberg, which we avoided. As ever, we exchanged friendly greetings and continued on each of our individual ways. The route now snaked down and along the forest flank until we reached the Austrian/Italian border where we dressed briefly for a refreshing drink. Humbert’s footwear were beginning to revolt, and the sole on one boot partially detached as he walked. Clifton had some handy tape which helped, and with my nylon cord he made do for the rest of the tour, but it was always a bit touch and go as to whether the boots would give up the ghost entirely, or not. The next stretch of trail took us up and up, and then up again through the wooded flank of the hillside above, until we reached the grassy ridge, where we paused for a welcome breather, and a short lunch stop. The view from here was memorable for being able to see across the dark valley and ridges we had just crossed, all the way back to the Schoenwipfulhutte which we had only just left this morning. We could see the hut, way off in the distance, a small square like think perched on an open alm above the deeply forested valleys lying beneath, and it was interesting to consider the, perhaps not vast but certainly substantial, distance we had just covered on foot between us.

An ant bit me, and we moved off, leaving the ridge, for a trail which turned into a forest track which serviced various high mountain alms and barns, and we descended past an interesting carved tree trunk next to a refreshing spring on the road-side. We crossed the valley by the river at it’s base, stopping to let Humbert and Clifton jump in for a refresher and a wash, before heading up the other side, briefly encountering an amiable forest warden checking his trees by 4×4. Some of the path markings were a bit ambigous, or non-existent, on this trail, but we managed to find our way to the main track leading us around the hillside to the gasthof ahead. This track amazed us by being tarmacced for half it’s length, through an otherwise trackless forest – we were beginning to expect to see traffic lights and no-parking yellow stripes. We continued on until we finally reached the very busy little gasthof and dressed to stop for a marvelous Kaiserschmarn mit Apfelmus (pancake with apple sauce). It was a bit strange suddenly being surrounded by so many people, most of whom appeared to have arrived here by car. The atmosphere was distinctly different from up in the mountains. We had a pow-wow as to what to do next, because we were so close to the end of the trip. There were no beds to be had here, and Humbert wasn’t going to consider another night under canvas, so we headed up the flat valley in the hope that we might find some kind of suitable accommodation. I was naked most of the way between the two villages, and recieved a couple of interesting looks from a family on the road, and a couple of cyclists, so we moved off onto a quieter trail which went through a herd of ruminating cows and around the back of the lake. We met a farmer couple enroute and briefly discussed with her about the cow we had seen up to it’s knees in mud next to the lake, and the broken electric fence, before continuing into the village. The houses all had their own little wooden fence marking out a small patch of grass around them, and otherwise the cows had more or less free rein over the entire valley. We managed to find a laager-room to sleep in, which was a kind of rough attic above Rudi’s gasthof, and a meal and a couple of beers, for a reasonable price, so we were happy.

Naked European Walking Tour 2008 – Tuesday

February 18, 2015 in Naktiv

The next morning I woke to find the sunshine streaming in through the tent flaps and illuminating the valley below. The grass was bright, bright, yellow and green and the day was fresh. By now I’d nearly given up on anyone joining me on the walk, but I had arranged as a third and final meeting place the Austrian/Italian border just south of the town, and so after a coffee at the gasthof I walked up the road to the border to see who, if anyone, would arrive. In fact, I met Humbert at the cafe lugging an enormous rucksack, and we both met Clifton at the border carrying a more practical rucksack. Humbert lives near Frankfurt and is a young and active naked runner with whom I’d previously exchanged emails, and Clifton is from New York and an active naked hiker who had booked his flight to Europe, specifically for the Newt, at the start of the year and I was glad to see he’d made it too. So, the Newt finally had some content, besides me, and this was a good thing. We had a last drink at the gasthof, and a brief discussion about the impending, and non-too promising and darkly looming, weather before setting off together along the trail which led us west out of the village. We were quickly joined by an elderly and friendly mushroom hunter, and we walked together for a short while before taking our seperate routes. We all three of us stripped off, putting our clothes in our rucksacks, and continued for most of the rest of the day hiking naked. We zig-zagged up the forest logging tracks, and after a while took the more direct and marked route through the trees, up and up. Although the sweat dripped from us as we toiled up the mountain trail, we were enjoying our naked excursion, and halfway up we were rewarded by a magnificent view over the valley from a wooden table and bench set on a small outcrop. The view from here was an inspiring sight, and one which motivated us to keep walking. We rejoined the trail and wound our way eventually to the top of the ridge, where the trees fell back to expose a pond below the high mountain alm with several summer farm buildings, just as the rain started. We dressed minimally to enter the alm, and were immediately offered a can of beer each by the farmer and his son who we passed while they were working on their barn. This unexpected and friendly bonus, improved the prospect of our brief lunch stop, as we hunkered under a sheltered wooden barn as the wind whistled around, and the rain dropped with enthusiasm. Refreshed, we set off once more and, having replenished our water supplies from the local spring we passed the large cast iron bell and follwed the trail as it peeled around the back of the ridge, accompanied by a light rain. We trundled along the easy track for a while before we had to leave it for a smaller trail which wound it’s way past enormous ant hills of pine needles, and finally down the other side of the ridge, on and on, down and yet further down. We decried the loss of altitude as we knew we had to make it up later enroute. The forest darkened as the rain clouds crept across the sky, the moist path underfoot gave slightly with each step, softening the impact on our knees as we descended the trail towards the pass below. The heavens simply opened as we set off on the long climb up the hill towards what promised to be a manned mountain hut, with a dry bed and dinner, far above us, but we were uncertain as to whether it was open or not, and after about fifteen minutes of torrential rain, we decided caution was the better part of valour and that we should make camp at the pass instead, (better the deviil you know), so we turned back and in the midst of heavy rain pitched camp beside the hut at the pass, where at least we had running water, not that that was in short supply at the moment. While it had been raining hard, Humbert had met a hunter and his daughter in a 4×4 in the forest, and once we’d made camp, and were sitting down to a shared salami and biscuit meal in Humbert’s enormous three-man tent, we thought we heard them beeping their car horn outside. Or it may have been the forest police wanting us to move on from our illegal campsite. None of us were game to leave the dry tent, and the occupants of the car were clearly not game enough to reciprocate from their dry vehicle, so we will never know. After dinner and a good chat we returned to our respective tents and hunkered in for the night. There’s something very special about camping in the rain – the persistent pattering of rain drops on the material above you as you (hopefully) stay warm and dry in your little man-made cocoon – which is just as well, as it rained all night long.

Naked European Walking Tour 2008 – Monday

February 18, 2015 in Naktiv

Newt 2008 took place in the Kaernten (Carinthia) region of Austria. This year’s Newt started at the Villach Hauptbahnhof, just north of the Italian border, in Austria. I was thoroughly looking forward to a bit of pleasant mountain walking whether alone or leading a group, after I had waited nearly an hour I decided I was on my own this year, at least for the first couple of days, and after picking up some last minute provisions I started to head south. The day was fairly bright, and having taken a local train down to Godersdorf, I set off walking in a southerly direction, towards the border ridge between Austria and Slovenia. As I was walking through a tiny village I came across a spring-fed water trough set up explicitly for passing walkers or anyone who needed a drink – even a handy tin cup was supplied on a loose chain, most civilised and giving a friendly and welcoming air to the start of the walk. After a short while, at about 10.30 am, I left the road and started up a farm track towards the woods, and at this point it seemed ok to strip off my shorts and t-shirt and I continued naked for the rest of the day. The sky was blue with large white puffy clouds on the horizon, and even under the shade of the trees the temperature was amply warm as I strode up the trail through the forest. At first I easily followed the zig-zagging logging trail past one or two isolated farmhouses and then the trail disappeared into the forest and I had to make my way straight up through the steep undergrowth until I could break out onto the track which contoured the ridge on the north side. I paused here for a rest and to soak up the magnificent views across the Villach valley before setting off along the now gently undulating track, past an alm, or high alpine meadow, with several horses and their keepers partaking of an early lunch at their mountain hut. I was getting into an easy stride now as the trail shrunk and snaked along the shoulders of the ridge as the glorious day wore on. I crested a hilltop to find the view to the south open out before me as a panorama of steep and rocky crags serrated across the base of the sky. The lines of ridge and valley defining one another amidst the clouds of a changable but firmly summer sky. I descended to the valley on the west end of the ridge, and found myself at an isolated Jaegerhutte (hunting hut), which had fresh running water from a spring at the side of the trail. I decided, rather than to tramp down to a possibly disappointing and road-worthy civilisation in the base of the valley, to camp up here in the medium-high alpine regions instead. As I made myself comfortable I was joined by a local farmer and his son who were out to have a late-afternoon snack and a beer before their evening meal. I accepted the proffered home-made salami and bread and, in broken German/Austrian, we managed to communicate about the area. Apparently the area used to be quite dangerous not ten years earlier, with the break-up of Yugoslavia, and the ridge on which we were dining used to be a place which was good to avoid, unless you wanted to be hunted down by armed patrols of hostile soldiers, and shot. It’s extraordinary to think about, when you’re not involved in it I guess, what people will do for the sake of a few rocks, a bit of grass, and a flag, when basically most people just want to quietly get on with their own lives. Thankfully the evening wore on peacefully enough, and the night passed uneventfully too and in the morning I woke to the sound of mountain birds and that special early morning alpine sunlight caressing the treetops, layer by layer.

I headed down the easy trail to the border pass, and while it was a pleasant enough area, I was glad I’d decided to stay up the hill overnight as the road was wide and intermittently noisy, and the gasthof was in any case closed, so I couldn’t even get a morning coffee for my trouble. I set off up the other side of the valley, and very soon lost the trail again having followed the trail markers faithfully, and found myself on very steep terrain trying to relocate the track through the forest. I re-found the trail and stuck to it like glue as it wound it’s way around the trees and up the steeply wooded slope. Near the top of the hill, I passed my first textile walkers who, as usual, seemed surprised at meeting a naked walker halfway up the mountain but at the same time were friendly enough and smiled as we greeted each other in passing. Continuing upwards, eventually I reached the top of the ridge, and encountered several more small groups of people which had evidently just arrived via the chair lift from the other side. One couple followed me over the border into Slovenia and along the forest track for a while until I stopped and let them overtake me as I thought they probably didn’t want to be looking at my back view the whole way along the ridge. They were friendly enough, and we met each other a couple of times again over the next hour or so. The view as I reached the summit of the ridge, and the meeting point of the three land borders of Austria, Italy and Slovenia, was magnificent. To the north lay the valley from which I had started walking yesterday, with the bulk of the Dobratsch mountain rising as a broad backcloth behind it. To the south were the jagged peaks of the Julian Alps, piercing into the clouds with their sharp eatures delineated clearly by the bright summer sunshine. To east and west the wooded ridge wound it’s way across the horizon, like I was in the middle of a giant green whaleback. I stopped briefly here to soak in the view, but there were too many people and so I moved on, heading down towards the next border pass in the valley ahead. At one point I passed a gleeful boy and several young children being led up the hill by a young lady who appeared quite unperturbed by me as I passed by and wished her “Una Buona Giornata” (a good day) – she smiled broadly and replied “A Tante Sempre” (and the very same to you). It’s pleasant little moments like this which can just make your day. I walked on and on through the forest, ever downwards, until I finally reached the border town of Unterthoerl. I camped just below the town, in between the railway lines and the motorway, before finding a good meal with a pleasant proprietress who spoke both Italian and Austrian/German, and a couple of very refreshing beers at a reasonable price. Fortunately I had my tent pitched just before the rainstorm broke and set in for the night.



Naked European Walking Tour 2009 – Friday

February 18, 2015 in Naktiv

Friday arrived all too soon, and we packed to descend from the hills, clearing and carrying our rubbish away with us. It was at this point that we really appreciated having had a static base camp, and light day sacks for every day’s walk, as we lifted our loads heavily onto our backs for the return march. It was sad to be leaving this charming spot, but there are other things to do. We set off and this time managed to find the more appropriate route, the 450 proper, which took a less steep approach to the cliff face below us and made for much more straightforward walking on the top section of our return march. Zig-zagging down through the steep woods we kept seeing the Blunthautal opening up before us, and at one point the trail actually grazed the top of a sheer cliff. The only thing between us and several thousand vertical feet to the trees directly below us, were two (not very thick) tree trunks wedged between a rock and another tree. While probably very solid, I was not game to experiment and we kept a respectful distance from the absolute edge. The drop was sheer and not the place to lose a football. After a while, and having reluctantly decided that this was probably the only feasible place a cow could be driven up this mountain, we reached the Kraitzalm hut once more where we stopped for a well deserved rest before continuing our descent. Down, down, down, always down through the trees. We were all tired when we finally reached the forestry road at the base of the mountain. Just then a 4WD car/station wagon drove up and stopped, the driver was the man I had met while walking up naked on the Sunday night at the Kraitzalm on the way to scout out the campsite. He was very friendly and said he recognised me from the umbrella(!). I told him his mountains here were spectacular, and that we’d just spent a super week hiking naked high up and having seen nearly no-one the whole time. With that, we shook hands amicably before he departed up to his hut, and we down to the valley. Bernard took the opportunity for a quick skinny dip in the popular river as we regained the main road, a (textile) family swimming next to us found this faintly amusing and so I had to explain we’d just spent the week hiking naked in the alps above. They laughed. We trailed into Golling for a celebratory beer, before catching the train out. It had been a wonderful week, we’d been very spoilt with the only threatening weather happening at night, and otherwise we’d had uninterupted sunshine all week long.

Naked European Walking Tour 2009 – Thursday

February 18, 2015 in Naktiv

Thursday dawned clear and dry and we got away a little earlier this time. As we left the campsite Milt, somehow, spotted a real Newt in the grass. This we picked up and photographed as a fitting mascot for the week’s walking tour, before carefully placing the little fellow back in the grass to grow up to be a true mountain hiker, naked of course. Bernard, Milt and I set off into the trees and up the steep trail. We went off-route and made a bee-line through the little valleys and woods towards a hunters hut we had seen from our first day out, almost directly above our campsite, separated by perhaps 200 vertical metres.

Reaching the hut, we took a break and soaked in the atmosphere of an imposing view of the Tristkopf, and a stupendous view of the previous days hike up to the Hochwiesspass. The hut, built in 1935, used rainwater as a water source, which rather limited it’s use in these dry times, but was so well situated that we were all captivated by it’s charm. Setting off west we wended our way around to a hidden valley, where we surprised another couple of Marmot’s into another display of standing on brown rocks and piping out their piercing alarm calls. Moving on, we passed another (abandoned) hut and summer pasture, before heading towards the ridge above. The way was tortuous and wound through thick mountain bush growing from limestone clints. Some interesting route-finding found us on the summit of our target ridge, and the views just got better. The drop to the Salzach valley below was now nearly vertical, and the peaks all around began to take on a more toothy appearance.

The sunlight shone down through the high cumulus and lay the mountain profiles lightly one atop the other, receding in intensity and vastness as their distance grew. Lunch was whatever we had with us and after we’d rested we moved on. A brief sojourn to the neighbouring summit was dismissed by excessive bush, and we found our way instead back towards the Fillingalm once more. The day ended by being shorter, but a more adventurous route overall, with us following distinctly indistinct and unmarked trails for most of the time. Probably the only people who ever make it up here, we mused, would be the occassional hunter, these days. We finished the day with yet another bonfire, which we also (finally) used to cook up some soup, but that’s another story.

Naked European Walking Tour 2009 – Monday

February 18, 2015 in Naktiv

A small group of us gathered at the rail station at Golling, just south of Salzburg, in Austria. Bernard and Robin from the UK, Milton having made a special trip from the USA, Max and Dietmar local Austrians, and myself. We craned our necks to take in the view of the hill we were about to ascend to get to our campsite for the week’s naked hiking, power pylons cutting vertically through the forest and delineating the mountainside in a depressingly steep fashion. After a brief lunch stop in the village we headed briefly into the Blunthautal across the river before starting the ardous walk up the soaring mountain ahead.

Quickly we stripped off our clothes as we left “civilization” behind, and then we trudged on and up for hours through the shaded forestry trail, carrying large rucksacks filled with camping gear, sweating and zig-zagging as we slowly gained height. At one point a hunter came past and fairly spouted pure vitriol at us for being naked in the mountains so far from anyone, close on his heels came his dog and his daughter, (I don’t know if the order was relevant), who said nothing, nor barked. Finally we reached an open and grassy alm, (alpine summer pasture), where we had fine views of the surrounding mountains, amidst several cows and horses quietly grazing. After a short break, we continued onwards, now reaching a steep section which wended its way through the vertical limestone cliffs. At this point, Max came to Robin’s aid and took his rucksack (as well as his own), and carried it the next hour and a half until reaching the campsite at the Angeralm, a feat worthy of a tale of it’s own. Slowly we all congregated at the campsite where we had plentiful water, (about the only decent supply we saw all week), gushing from a pipe on the side of the Angeralm hut, an astounding view of the surrounding peaks, and a convenient drop loo, too! If anything marred the site it was the array of enormous electricity pylons which scarred the view of the valley from one end to the other, but given that we saw a total of perhaps four people in the four days we were here, perhaps our complaints are not sufficient to take to the electricity board with a view to having the cables moved underground or somesuch unlikely alternative.

What price beauty? Nevertheless the view was still astounding. Unfortunately Max had to return quickly to pick up Dietmar who had also found the steepness of the last section of trail too much and turned back earlier, they were only coming for the day anyway, and now we were down to four stalwart Newt members for the week. We found out later that Dietmar wisely set off early on the descent and the pair regrouped in Golling that evening, later, perhaps wiser, than intended, but safe and sound and having enjoyed keeping us company for a while.

Naked European Walking Tour 2010 – Thursday

February 18, 2015 in Naktiv

Day 4. The next morning Robert left the group for other commitments, and the remaining members set off for a low level traverse of the ground heading west towards Obertauern. We passed cows grazing amidst high rocky pastures where in Britain one might only expect to see sheep. The cold wind made sure we wore various bits of clothing as deemed suitable, particularly amusing, and a nice counterpoint to his nakedness, were Miguel’s patent leather gloves. The wind was at first cool, as it blew clouds scudding against the high rocky peaks above us, but as the day wore on the weather improved as we followed the easy trail which meandered along the wide terrace beneath. 

Brian split off from the group to return to the hut via a high ridge route, while the rest of us took the easier and very pleasant low level trail back down to an alm, back along and beneath our outwards route through light and airy forest trails. A distant waterfall competed with the noise from the light but constant traffic on the single road up the Tauern valley below. We encountered several small groups and pairs of walkers along the return route, all of whom exchanged friendly greetings with us. Although one man in particular may have felt a bit picked on, as he met three naked men on the lower trails on his way up the mountain for his day’s hiking and, on the high mountain ridge an hour later on, he met Brian on his own, also naked. He could have been forgiven for thinking this was the “naked man mountain”. As the day wore on, the clouds were blown away from the summit ridges and, as we lost height, the wind dropped and temperature steadily rose. The sun streamed hotly through the dappled leaves of the alpine hillside, as we wended our way along the small rambling trail stopping occasionally to admire the view. We finally returned to the Suedwiennerhuette for early afternoon tea, a nearly well-earned beer, and to chill out amongst stupendous scenery.

Miguel now left the group to continue his studies, and the group was now down to the three of us, Brian, Roland, and myself. In the event, this was the last day, as Roland and I set to drinking far too much wine and schnapps with Roland, the seemingly dour yet very amiable hut warden and Gabi, his charming waitress. The friendly Nepali cook, whose name I slackly forget, kept us jovial company until he very probably got tired of the inebriated humour and excess of his European hosts. After an excess of jollity, the following day we woke with heads akimbo and, through thick clouds of post-schnapps haze, tried to piece together the end of the week, before each wending our own particular way home.

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