Thursday July 05. After breakfast, we sat at the hut waiting a short while for the group to come together and then headed off up the piste past the Trinkeralm to join the main trail along the easy ridge above. As we passed the top of the ski-lift, a couple passed us with the usual friendly if mildly surprised greetings. We climbed steadily up the easy trail until we reached the end of the ridge and could look around at the stupendous view all around us. The Obertauern hills to the north and west, the Dachstein to the south, and the Schladmingertauern to the east. Quite spectacular. We started off again, and the group quickly split into 2 pieces based on the preferred speed of the participants, much to my dislike. I don’t mind splitting the group at the end of the day, but at the beginning this is all wrong, and this set me off into a bad mood, even though the walking was simply gorgeous. The puffy clouds scudded across the sky all the day, threatening a change in weather which fortunately never really materialized, the wind keeping us cool as the high altitude sun baked us from above on the bare and wide open ridge. Gianni and Mira, Joop and I, watched as the others left the summit ahead of us and walked along the easy ridge into the distance.
Once we reached the first summit cross, Mira and I stopped for a minor food break, and to soak up the view. Gianni went on ahead, leaving his wife behind, and Joop walked unsteadily along the ridge to join the others. After a while several of the lead group returned in drips and drabs. Sandro had fallen while walking and was sporting a bleeding and bandaged arm, and now Joop was returning also alone. As I watched, I could not believe my eyes as the lead group now disappeared around the end of the ridge ahead. I had to call Roland on my mobile handy and tell him to turn the entire group around immediately. Fortunately I could get through to him, and fortunately he was able to turn them all around. Roland told me later the group had multiple people all coming up with different ideas of what to do and where to go next. It sounded like a group of headless chickens, and was a yet another moot lesson for me on group dynamics in the hills. We reformed as a walking group and managed to stay more or less together, with some well timed help from Ian, who scuppered yet more separatist tendencies at an early stage. We retraced our steps along the easy ridge and had some pleasant walking with views ahead of the Dachstein range, before descending towards the Trinkeralm once more.
As we got to the top of the ski-lift, there was a rolling log on a wooden frame as a test of balancing, which David and I both succeeded in crossing. High spirits seemed to be the order of the day as Sandro started to climb up the metal frame of the ski-lift. Chris began pushing the huge concrete weight which was finely hanging from it’s steel cable, such that it tapped the metal structure with a clang with him standing directly beneath the counter-weight. I’m all for having a little fun, when we’re out and about, but this was causing me to question the rationality of our little group. I herded people as quickly as possible and we set off down the hill once more. The previous evening I’d approached the Trinkeralm with the proposal that the 18 of us might eat our dinner naked today, on their terrace if there were no other guests about, and the very friendly waitress, Katy, had said that would be fine. There was no-one else to be seen for miles and so Helmut and I approached the hut naked and in high spirits. Next we saw Katy hurrying out across the terrace towards us looking worried, and when we met her, with our naked group steadily descending behind us, she looked very apologetic, but apparently she’d asked permission of the owners, and they’d declined our proposal. I regard this as a failure of communication on my part, because I’d given them too much time to think about the idea. It seems spontaneity, (with “sure, why not?”), is more accommodating of nudity than the more advanced thinking of the “what if” variety. Every year we learn something new. We departed amicably enough and waved goodbye as we headed on down to our hut, just below the Gasthof. Later on we need some eggs for dinner, and Vittorio volunteered to walk back to the Trinkeralm to ask for some. Apparently Katy was still apologetic at her change of permission, which seemed to be out of her control, so we didn’t mind so much. The Dutch contingent brought out the bubbly again, and soon we had tables and benches on the terrace and were enjoying an early evening snack in the sunshine of our alpine hut.
It was nice to do such a good day’s hiking without having to contend with the long forestry track at each end. Admiring the view and throwing sticks for the seemingly never-tired Polly. Watching Polly fetch and carry the whole week long, David called her a one-trick dog. This raised my bile, (only a little), and caused me to respond by throwing the stick and getting Polly to “stay” where she was. Next, I called for Polly to “sit”, “stand” (on all fours), “lie down”, “sit, and so on, all in quick succession while keeping her on the spot. With only the verbal command holding her in place, for a short while, I then called “fetch” to release her to go get the stick. At this point the entire group applauded Polly, impressed with her ability to follow a wide range of commands so well. She’s a clever dog, as are many border-collies, and it’s a shame it’s so hard to find the time, and the skills, to teach her more activities.