Monday July 15
The day started by driving south along the rough road to the Vögeialm. Parking, we set off behind the farm buildings and headed up the valley, undressing as we reached the first trees. I had to shepherd Polly past several the herd of cows, as she has apparently decided, since an early encounter, to be perpetually terrified by these huge brown and usually docile creatures. We crossed a wooden bridge and headed steeply up the hillside, soon being overtaken by a small mixed group of friendly hikers. Interestingly, Conxita was along to make a film of the week, and on the first day had spend the main part of it hiking clothed, today however, she stripped off entirely early on and stayed that way for most of the rest of the week. For someone who had never done any naked hiking at all, ever, she seemed to be taking to the idea like a duck to water, and she was setting a fine example to the rest of us, and to others who might like to try the activity in future. It was really nice to see such enthusiasm from a young woman not afraid to shed her inhibitions in the company of strangers and passers by.
We ascended through the warm air, steadily gaining altitude, and after a couple of stops to wait on the slower members of the party, reached an incongruous snow field near a stream. Several of the team now (naturally) started throwing snow balls and sliding down the snow. Setting off again, we reached a high lake where we stopped as Karla just had to have a dip, and Conxita found a tiny frog by the lakeside, while the rest of us took a well earned break. The last stretch to the top of the pass was fairly steady going, and the temperature rapidly cooled as we gained height under the greying skies. Once we reached the pass we stopped for lunch and had a huge view over the Obertauern ski-circus below. Although we nestled into a couple of hollows to shelter from the wind, we didn't stay long as we were cooling down rapidly.
The Tauernhöhenweg trail now meandered lazily up the slopes above to the east, and we followed it around various pools, past the verdant grass amidst the light green rocks of the interesting plateau. We met several walking groups coming the other way, and at this point Karla was nearly the only naked person in our group, putting the rest of us to shame, and generating some light jocularity in the passing clothed groups. As we hiked, we warmed up slowly and more and more people started to strip off again, the wind now cooling us in a pleasant manner and helping to keep us at a pleasant temperature under our exertions.
Crossing the plateau we descended the other side to the Oberhüttensee lake before separating into a fast shopping group, and the slower rest-of-group group. The slower group dressed for a quick coffee at the mountain hut, before descending the track which followed the valley tightly back down to our cars, and a welcome return to dinner and a cup of tea at our hut.