Naked European Walking Tour 2010 – Tuesday

Day 2. The Tuesday dawned cool and fresh, with a couple of clear gun shots from somewhere on the hill above us. Clearly the farmer was out hunting nice and early and we were glad not to have met him with both barrels still smoking. We packed up and starting the long trail up the hill to regain the height we'd lost the day before. On our way up we met the friendly family again, fencing in the cows and protecting the hay meadows, they invited us to their place for an invigorating cup of fresh coffee and some cool fresh milk. This placed the previous day's short setback on a positive note, and improved the start of our day beyond recognition. Our faith in mountain dwellers restored, and filling our water bottles from a handy pipe, we meandered up the grass and rocky ridge steadily towards the skyline. Anniki appeared a bit nervous as the ridge did indeed look quite steep from this angle, and she was tired from yesterday's exertions. Not only was she carrying her share of camping equipment, but also a hefty movie camera plus lenses, microphone and tripod, for reporting on the trip. Oh, I thought, what joy to be young and fit again! However, the trail was easy, although there were a couple of places where one had to be careful not to make any mistakes on the loose and steep gravel covered rocks. It's often on steep yet easy looking ground that experienced climbers and casual walkers alike are killed by a single careless slip, or a misplaced loose rock, so it's imperative to always keep a clear head and a confident foot. Robert's self-erecting tent packed into a huge circular coloured disk on his back, and gave him the air of some kind of space-alien, trudging naked across the alpine tundra. We made our way steadily up to the summit ridge, and took a break, before tackling the final slope to the large cross fixed by multiple cables at the highest point. Robert entered the NEWT info into the hut book for posterity, and we took our first summit photos, alongside several groups of French, Polish and Austrian, hikers. We passed, and interacted with, several mixed groups of clothed hikers, some were more curious than others, and almost everybody's reactions to our naked team were fairly typical, seeming to find us mildly amusing and otherwise harmless. Polly's unusual rucksack elicited similar volumes of comments. Walking on, we traced a line across the breast between two peaks, and along the ridge to the next summit, stopping for some more photos and a view down to our target campsite for the evening, the Rauchskoegelhutte. We had hoped the hut would be open, and we could get refreshments and supplies there, but we were disappointed to find that the hut was closed for the summer. Because there was no water available on the ridge at this point, a surprise given that the hut is so well marked on the local map, we sent down two volunteers, to the nearest habitation, for water. Robert and Roland descended with rucksacks full of empty water bottles, Polly disappearing to accompany them for the extra exercise. They came back an hour later laden with water and an extra couple of bottles of Radler, a refreshing Beer mixed with lemonade, donated by the friendly workers at the construction site below. As they were leaving our group on the morrow, Anniki used this evening to interview several of us about the hike, the reactions we receive from other walkers, our motivations, etc. We set up camp around the hut, and had just finished dinner when the darkening skies suddenly erupted around us in a deluge of wind blasted h2o. The rain found all of us quite unprepared for it's ferocity, and it took several gulps of various intoxicating liquids before we could quite face going to our fortunately already erected tents to attempt sleep. Polly, for whom I'd placed a waterproof insulation mat under the vestibule, spent what seemed like half the night; squeezing out under the flysheet into the blasting rain and, because the angle of the tent material stopped her from squeezing back in again, I'd have to open the inner tent, open the outer tent, drag her back into shelter, close the outer tent, push the wet dog off my sleeping bag, close the inner tent, wipe off as much cold rain water as possible, curl up and try to go back to sleep. Only to find she'd crept outside into the rain again...

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