The next day started with a steep climb to yet another high summer pasture. Doug and I set off first, and this steady 76 year old from New Zealand soon showed me what a mountain pace was. I had to ask him to slow down a bit, and he simply said this was his normal steady pace and “What’s the problem…?” We continued up and up, and were met by a couple of young women coming down the track. They pleasantly returned our morning greetings, and just as they were going around corner, I noticed one had pulled out her camera to try to snap a photo of us as we went out of sight. I stopped and called out: “Would you like a photo?”, “Yes, indeed!” she replied (in German).
So we stopped and waited as she walked back up towards us and took a photo of these 2 naked men who had passed her on the track. “Don’t worry”, she said, “they won’t get on to the Internet!”. “It really doesn’t matter”, we replied, “and may we take a photo too?”, “Of course!” she said. So Doug took a photo with my camera, of me standing next to the dressed girl with her friend behind, at which point 2 lads approached from above at the same time, and took a photo of all of us together. Their boyfriends, I imagined, were probably a bit surprised to see their girlfriends talking to 2 naked men, but seemed quite relaxed too. It was such a simple exchange, both parties were simply recording an interesting encounter and enjoying the novelty. We carried on, and after some time reached the Hallerangeralm. This was set in a a broadening of the valley running east and west, with towering limestones ridges to the south and to the north. The grandeur of the place was awe inspiring. The Hallerangeralm itself was a small cluster of buildings perched on the remains a central glacier moraine in the middle of the valley, with a stupendous longtitudinal view in 2 directions, with steep ridges to both sides. We stopped here for an early lunch.
I had wanted to continue along the main valley but Konrad was very insistent we went over the steep col to the south, and I conceded it because it looked like a pleasant enough route, so we changed course. I felt that it was right for members of the group to be able to contribute to the route planning but in hindsight I should perhaps have stood my ground. The route now crossed this high mountain pass, and climbed steeply up a loose scree slope of rock, with a vestige of snow in the coulouir. The snow was steep and blocked the path at the top of the slope for about 40 m. This meant that the group had to either turn back, or cross the snow using the remnants of footprints from previous walkers. One slip would mean sliding perhaps 50 m straight down the surface of the icy snow onto the broken rocks below. The sort of injuries to a naked person in those conditions didn’t bear thinking about, even if one survived the slide. I don’t think most people in the group, though worried by the crossing, can have quite realised how dangerous this truly was, because by the time I reached the snow crossing, most of the rest of the group had already crossed, so even had I wished to turn everyone around, I would have had a hard time convincing them to back-track their steps across the snow for a second time.
Meanwhile a couple had crossed in the opposite direction, and they reassured me that the route on the other side was simple enough, even for naked hikers, and nowhere as steep as this side, so I reluctantly followed the group. The ensuing walk across the high plateau-like col, before descending to the Inn valley at it’s narrowest point, was inspiring, and nearly made the perilous snow traverse worthwhile. The view from the far side, south onto high ridges overlooking the Inn valley was simply magnificent. We trudged down, losing all our hard gained height, to St. Magdelena, a gasthof which turned out to be closed, and then continued down the valley to the villages of the Inntal. We were becoming very tired as we tramped on, and a misunderstanding about the route, which way everyone was going, and how we would meet up again, led to us losing Doug for a short time. I think this was a major contributing factor to his decision to leave us the following day. The weather broke as we arrived in the village of Baumkirchen and we were lucky to find a friendly bar keeper who let us camp on her terrace while the thick and heavy rain stormed harmlessly above us. The number of flies here was abominable, but Christian le Couchon, (so called because he snored like a pig), rapidly racked up the highest number of squashed flies, even squashing one on the beer mat I had carefully laid atop my beer glass, (especially to keep the flies out).