Naked European Walking Tour 2005 – Monday

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.

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