Sunday July 01. It was sunny and hot when, post-breakfast, we decided to take a short tour near the hut. We left the hut naked and headed down into the valley, past the T-bar ski-lift station below us, before squelching across the mossy ground to the base of the woods on the hillside ahead. Zig-zagging up through the thick heather, under the welcome sun shade of the thick tree coverage above. As we climbed steadily, we came across signs of a distinct trail which angled up and left possibly towards the ridge, so we gratefully followed it easily upwards in exchange for the free-for-all in the heather. As we reached the ridge, the sun shone on us once more as we emerged from the trees. We followed the wide and sparsely wooded ridge roughly north, passing hunting hides with superlative views over the Dachstein. Struggling through some final bush, we reached the rocky summit, a small cliff with the inevitable giant crucifix on top. One wonders whether a modern religion would insist on planting electric chairs atop each mountain top? We stopped for a welcome lunch break here and gazed all around at the view, which now opened up to the north as well, nearby undulating ridges interspersed with distant snow covered peaks. Roland and I described the Strimkögel ridge opposite which had been the route of Newt 2010. Joop threw a stick and Polly dug herself into another mud pool and turned from a black and white collie into a black and brown one. She entertained us by shaking (on command) next to Joop and covering him from head to toe in mud spatters. It was difficult to be apologetic when it was so funny.
We headed down the other side of the ridge, following a trail winding through the undergrowth until we reached the open piste and an easy slope and traverse back to the hut. Once there, the Dutch settled into quaffing some bubbly white wine on the sunny terrace. Clearly we were on holiday. I drove down, naked again, to pick up Bernard, Chris, David and Bruce, all from the UK, from the Radstadt train station. My little car, a Subaru Justy, really struggled to carry all of us and all their bags from the station up to the mountain hut on the rough road. I went down again to pick up Pierre, from France, before Vittorio and Sandro arrived in their own car from Italy. Robert arrived on his motorbike, having had an entertaining time ascending the sometimes bumpy and always rough forestry track. Still, it’s better than having to walk it with our suitcases and backpacks. Vittorio had brought his Draco, a fine looking slightly Husky-looking dog, with him. Unfortunately Polly has an aversion to any other dogs, because of the unfortunate experience when she was a puppy and shut up in a trailer on a farm with her siblings and they had to fight for their food. Usually she bristles and attacks first. I’d explained this to Vittorio beforehand, but there’s nothing like experience to supplement words. We brought them near each other, and separated them as soon as we detected a lip curl. Draco was very well behaved the entire week, and I could only apologise as I attempted to educate Polly in appropriate dog etiquette. Spain beat Italy 4-0 at football, much to Gianni’s dismay.