Wednesday July 04. Sandro decides to remain behind as he’s tired, and Helmut calls to cancel their joining of our tour today. We descend our long track once more and meet in Radstadt town just prior to starting our hike. Helmut and Conny decide to join us after all, and Sandro too, and we get going once he returns from his coffee stop in town. We ascend the long traversing road to the north of the town, and park on the flanks of the UntererSchwemmberg. We set off naked, accompanied by the beeps and jolly waves of a passing van, and follow the wide forestry track through the trees for a couple of kilometres. Suddenly the track stops, and we are not where I thought we would be. Some hasty map consultation, and David and I both take different routes through the forest to scout out possible alternatives. Neither are satisfactory so we have to do what is possibly the hardest thing for a hiking group to accept, and that is to turn around and go back the way we came. Sandro decides to take a lone path through the trees and, although he turns and rejoins the group when I call him back, then calls me “Mussolini” for being firm and dictating the hiking route to the group. We retrace out steps to an earlier footpath sign, and take this ascending steadily across the easy slopes of the hillside as the path snakes up through the trees. The trees provide a welcome shade from the hot sun above.
We continue upwards, passing a trail junction and meeting a couple of groups of people on their way down the hillside. We keep moving upwards, gaining height steadily now by following the wide wooded ridge, up past a hunting lodge and the busy top of a chair lift with restaurant, and several mushy high level ponds. The route continues with Mira getting more and more exhausted, and we’re looking for a good place to stop where everyone can be content. A few of us take a pause under the trees, while the rest head on to the base of a huge radar tower, just above us. The lunch stop is a welcome rest from the toil of walking uphill in the heat, and we bask in the sunshine, while I try to take a photo of the Polly monster dog pretending to be friends with the gentle Draco. After a long-ish stop, we continue along ridge, passing several groups of people, and begin the final climb along the easy sparsely tree covered ridgeback to the Gasthof at the summit of the Rossbrand. We dress to enter the terrace this time, as the place is very busy with families and people who have arrived here by driving up the mountain road in their cars. Stopping here for a welcome drink, when we leave, a number of people smirk at the various wraps some of the guys are wearing. Apparently, it’s ok for Scottish men to wear kilts, and for women to wear trousers, but it’s “different” when a man is wearing a simple short wrap. We head off, and split the group for the easy road walkers and the more energetic forest types. The path now leads steeply down the mountainside, and about halfway down towards the cars, we split again.
A small group go along the road to the cars, and the rest head directly down the hill to the town of Radstadt. I wait for Mira and Gianni, and Sandro to catch up and then we walk along the road together. At this point a pair of (rather cute) young women emerge from the forest, one carrying a baby who does not look so happy in the heat as they leave the shade of the trees, and turn to walk on ahead of us. Mira is topless and the rest of us are naked, and moving faster, so we quickly overtake the two women, with a friendly exchange of the usual mountain greetings. We pass another couple and then one of the young women overtakes us, as she descends quickly to fetch her car for her friend. As she passes us, she slows to have a 5 minute conversation with me about her day, and our day, and her friend’s baby. She is clearly comfortable with the naked guys she has met all over this side of the mountain today. We wave goodbye and call out for her to “have a nice day!” Once we reach the cars, we descend the long traversing road once more and park in the centre of town, before heading for the central square to find the others and have a coffee. The Dutch contingent are clearly on holiday, and order huge ice-creams all round. The rest of the hikers join us, I get an ice-cream, and then we jump back in the cars to head back to the hut for the rest of the evening and a rather superb Indonesian meal ala-Roland.