Naked European Walking Tour 2006 – Tuesday

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.

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