Naked European Walking Tour 2009 – Tuesday

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.

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