Naked European Walking Tour 2009 – Wednesday

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.

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