Hiking Journal 2007

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Hiking Journal - Dreaming is great and even better when those dreams become reality. Wi-Jo and I undertook our dream to hike to glaciers in the European Alps. Coming from Holland which is below sea-level, as well as being a bit heavier than normal (out-of-shape) we opt for a multi-stage preparation consisting of several trips to build our stamina and strength, leading to the big Alpine hike! Along the various legs of this trip we accomplish much more than just getting in shape, but learn a lot as well.

Print version here

Sometime in 2006, quite early on actually, it became clear that I needed to start addressing my weight issue. Being the sort that is not so fast to run down to the gym, I needed a stimulus.

That stimulus came in the form of a dream to hike- to hike long and high. A dream that had its roots in the several mountains I climbed with my father and often my sisters and mother as well, in The White Mountains, New Hampshire, USA. These climbs often included several mountain peaks in one day or just one “relatively” big one, such as Mt. Washington, the highest peak on the eastern shores of the USA and part of the Appalachian mountain range and an awesome hiking trail (Appalachian Trail) from the south of the U.S. right up to the White Mountains in NH, thru to Maine and even up into Canada. This realistic, but needing a kick-start dream, which slowly became a goal, was to hike the Alps for a week straight. Initially this started as something that I may have just done on my own (Would have needed a turbo-boast kick-start for that!), yet when I mentioned this goal to my good friend Wi-Jo in or around November of 2006, he immediately showed interest and helped me really see that this goal, this dream, could of course easily become reality!

With a busy business as well as family life, Thomas, Lukas and Bianca of course come first and Markzware Europe can also not be neglected; yet Biacna and I also need to be there for our kids in the long term. Thus having Bianca’s support, to encourage me to do this, to take the time, which meant her often doing double-duty (especially with work trips included.), was key to this all. Thank you Bianca. Dreams can become reality, however small or large they may be- just a little communication can go a long way in helping make them happen (And oh yeah, and she going away a couple times this year with her friends does not hurt the bargaining either!).

Then, in December Wi-Jo was over for dinner and we made a pact- after the holidays in February, for we both had busy Januarys, we would plan out the goal of a week climbing the Alps, but with the idea coming from Wi-Jo to start with a few side trips to build-up our stamina and hiking strength (And as we would learn, to toughen our feet).

In early February we sat with Bianca and planned in dates for the three hikes, generally being: April in the Belgium, Ardennes, June in Germany for a long weekend and the third and final leg, being a week somewhere in the Alps, high and deep within this wonderful wilderness. Perhaps to glaciers, which are so often in the news these days with climate change and what not.

By the end of February and after several email exchanges and reading several books on hikes in the Alps and searching the Internet we had more finalized our agenda, with a few extra side legs added.

In late March the 18th to be exact, we started our efforts in the theoretical sense. Wi-Jo knew that I recently received a compass for my birthday from Marc, Inge and Bodi, but he also knew I had limited ideas on how to really work with one. Thus he booked us a full day course “Map and Compass Reading” in the middle of Holland via the group SNP. This was a lot of fun and we learned a lot- the map and compass in combination could be very powerful.

It should be noted that around this time I weight about, believe it or not, 100 kilos or 220 pounds. They used to say I carried my weight well, but now it is getting to be an issue!

Later, WI-Jo again added an additional challenge- Wadlopen in Dutch or loosely translated as “mudflat walking.” See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wadlopen This was exciting, for although only a days worth of action, it is a Dutch pass-time and loving the sea makes it all the more appealing. It was also extra hard, as we walked back along the beach on the island of Amerland, which was well worth it!



Han-Sur-Lesse BELGIUM, Ardennes
LOCATION: Click Here (Google Maps)
Wi-Jo planned out this trip and he did a fabulous job. Choosing to be based in a lovely little hotel in the “cave” village of Han-sur-Lesse was very wise and practical as well, for there were numerous paths, walks and trails in the immediate area.

We left on Friday the 13th. At around 11am in the end (supposed to have left at 9am). Being late for Belgium is one thing, but leaving late for the Alps will be another! Yet Wi-Jo had a great excuse, and no man can argue against the one he used. It was very exciting to finally be embarking on this trip, which had now been anticipated for quite some time. The weather was FANTASTIC for this time of year, heck for any time of year. It was sunny with highs to be in the upper 20’s! (Celsius) Actually the entire three days in Belgium would see sun and highs reaching 30c- we were blessed with this extra motivation.

Friday 13 April 16:00
Walk 1 – Map 59 ½ and ¾, 13 KM
Han-sur-Lesse (start and end)

That afternoon we started off from Han-sur-Lesse, heading left from church to follow a 13KM series of trails and old logging roads. It started off in rolling fields for cows to graze in, leading past a war monument from the Second World War, up a pretty steep (a very small taste of what awaits us in the Alps) climb to the summit of the highest hill in that area, coming in at some 280 Meters. (A week earlier I walked up Lemeleberg with Marc, Ger and Dick, which was a whopping 77 meters- so at least I am going in the right direction!) Yet, the forest was full of life and with such a spring upon us, it was seemingly growing before our eyes.

We strolled back into the town around 7pm, showered and headed down-stairs to eat under the stars and relative warm temperatures, even though with nightfall it got cooler.

Saturday 14 April 09:00
Walk 2 – Map 54 5/6 and 59 ½ , 21 KM
Houyet (start and end)
With full Back-Pack (for practice)

LOCATION: Click Here (Google Maps)
Today, which of course was another perfect day, we headed off after driving 20 minutes to the banks of the Lesse river in Houyet on a 21KM, 6 hour hike with full gear (pack-back, filled for practice). The trail started by the river Lesse, right over the bridge, but then winds slowly upward, under the e40 highway and then eventually to follow the smaller, but lovely river Liwene, which is actually more a stream.

The first half of the hike required a lot of map reading, which was great to get us into that. And some guys seemingly pretending to be forest rangers even told us “we could not” walk up a certain trail! Mind you, we saw basically no one else for the first ¾ of the trip except for these guys. Thus, once they drove off, down the dirt road (of sorts), we went further, per the book, up the grassy path, which added some further excitement to the journey, but in the end was no problem.

We saw woodpeckers, hawks, and all sorts of birds. Also, we saw a lot of wild boar tracks, but no encounters. We had lunch along the banks of the Liwene and had a nice rest there. By the end of the day, I was pretty tired. 27c gets to you with a full backpack, thus a great workout towards the goal of the Alps! And, ahhh, the beer back at the small bar in Houyet was delicious!

Sunday 15 April 09:00
Walk 3 Map 54 5/6, 13 KM (Became 16+KM)!
Han-sur-Lesse (start and end)

This morning, which was once again a lovely day, we began our last walk for this trip. Feeling soar (lower shin and top of ankle mainly, plus a blister on the little toe of my left foot, of all places!), this would be a nice closing challenge. Yet, early on we saw a split in the road, and were we should have went left, we stayed right (scared by a sign saying “prive” which was for a small entry to a farm, NOT the path to the left!), thus we walked about 3 or 5 KM’s extra, but it was a very nice side trip and good for our work-out. We walked back, and picked-up the correct path, once again helping learn about following instructions and reading maps.

It was a nice route through rolling hills and then along the Lesse River itself, before a final climb to a nice view of a valley below before re-entering Han-sur-Lesse at around 14:30

Then, a quick glass of water on the terrace and before we fell asleep, we hopped in the car and headed back for Holland. I could not wait to see the kids and Wi-jo Welmoed, thus yet another perfect ending to a perfect trip! And what a way to start our challenge! Next, to go wadlopen in the North Sea to Amerland Island!


Wadlopen in the North Sea
From Holwerd, Friesland- North Holland (by the ferry boat docks) to Ameland Island via foot.

25 May 2007 8am
LOCATION: Click Here (Google Maps)

This is a Dutch pastime and I must say a lovely activity for the fit and those willing to get dirty, then wet, then dirty again and so on! The walk through the North Sea at low tide through the mud-flats often turns almost into a swim. It is tough going, more so with the blisters forming on both heels (You must wear old basketball sneakers, but the ones I have are, well odd-ball.) I feel the openness of the blisters, but in the water you can not stop and you do not feel pain. Once on shore though, which was a beautiful thing to walk up onto the banks of the island, I soon felt the pain and saw the gapping wound, especially on my right heel.

The rest (about 30) take a trailer pulled by a farm tractor the 10KM back to the main little town to catch the ferry back to the mainland. Wi-Jo and I walk it! First we skinny dipped, to clean off, then changed into some dry clothes. I walked bare-foot, for the blisters were painful. We walked back, literally for most of the way on large, broad, white sandy beaches, with NO ONE around! It was awesome. Just be sure to invest in good basketball shoes that you have warn a few times and also wear polyester underwear, shorts and t-shirts, for wet cotton after hours and many miles basically tears away your skin- also painful. I was spent after this day, in many ways and knew I had a long way to go till I could climb real mountains again! Here, by the Wadlopensntrum Fryslan, you can see where we booked this trip.

I start to jog, ride the bike more to and from work and it has a positive effect. Still not enough times in the week, but a start.



Köningssee, Steinernes Meer & Berchtesgaden;

Start- Click Here (Google Maps)
Sleep for Evening- Click Here (Google Maps)

Used the lonely planet book called, "Walking in the Alps" by several authors for this walk. Their description was helpful and information very useful. See page 323 for the walk entitled, "Best of Berchtesgaden National Park"

22 June 2007 (3 day hike) – staring at 9:41am

We started the day bright and early at 6am within our lovely hotel, ‘Alpen Hotel’ in Berchtesgaden-Koningssee, busily preparing our back-packs/ (See my backpack inventory here.). We were off with a taxi at 8:15, heading to the ferryboat. This was a generally descend, down to the banks of the clearest lake in Germany named Köningssee. Then we boarded a long, electric boat for the 30-minute ride along this narrow, extremely deep lake to our starting point- St. Bartholomä. After a quick cup of tea for Wi-Jo and coffee for myself (and of course a few pictures of this picturesque area), we started our hike at 9:41 am with the sun mainly shinning through the large, puffy clouds.

First we began along the crystal clear lake, but then right up, what looked like a cliff. Here the path was relatively evenly laid in a moderately steep switch-backing fashion (zigzag). I sweated heavily, but still welcomed the challenge for the 40 minutes it took to we leveled off, but first seeing some fine views of the lake as well as some waterfalls which ultimately came from “The Watzmann” mountain and region, Germany’s second largest mountain.

Once leveling off, we walked for another 30 minutes through a cool forest with large boulders here and there strewn about along the way on either side. Eventually we noticed that two large, high cliff faces on both our left and right sides surrounded us, squeezing together into a pass we would soon not forget!

When we got a bit further along we noticed that we would be going between these two cliff faces now more-or-less merged into one- the so-called pass, named Saugausse (another view from the cell phone here.) This is the same pass I remembered that the guy in the hotel warned us of … ‘You will think many times you are to the end of the ascent, but it just seems to keep on going up.” Indeed, it was about an hour, if not more, of switch backing up this steep pass, like mountain goats. Yet, even then, I got a cell phone call form the office- sales were good this day, which is always nice to hear, allowing me to focus on the challenge upon me, literally! Then, near the top of the pass we came across a real goat or sort, a wild gems or mountain goat, right before our very eyes. Near the top of this section, where the pass broadened out into a bowl of sorts and valley, we had lunch on a couple of large stones along the path. The flowers here are incredible- it was told to us by a guide who has traveled to many mountain areas all over the world, that this area has the BEST wild flowers in the world. View a couple here and here.

Along the paths we would meet mainly German’s at this point. All were friendly. While eating lunch we met a group of guys from Kassel, Germany- the area where my Great x6 Grandfather came from originally, Casper Dilling. This German guy told us of an expression used still to this day about the young Hessen sliders gathering from the countryside in Kassel to head off to fight in the new land, America, for a reason they did not believe in. The saying goes something like, “Our men must report to Kassel.” Which was a saying of the times in reference to the fact that the Baron of that time required all fit men to fight for the British (a deal between the Baron and the King of England at that time) and first these young Hessen men had to report Kassel, before heading off eventually by ship to the Revolutionary War, generally against their will.

We packed up our things again, after a nice break, viewing many lovely wild flowers and butterflies and started upwards again. Once nearing the summit or high-point of the next pass, we entered into rolling fields of thick wild flowers, often with boulders scattered all over. We were seeing all sorts of nature, which was great. Two times Wi-Jo spotted for us a marmot (what is a marmot?) Which is like a beaver without the flat tail and buckteeth, or an overweight squirrel. One we passed, poised proudly on a huge boulder, just as the weather was thickening and a fog, although not so thick, moistly came upon us. We also saw near a cross and tribute to God and Jesus a relatively large rich black, Alps Salamander, which was a rich black (like 100%) and about 10 cm long! Just for the record, Wi-Jo was spotting most of the wildlife this day and even a small blackish snake, early in the day, during that first steep ascent.

Just as we spotted another marmot the rain started… we rushed to get our rain gar on and covers on our packs… yet it was only 5 minutes later that the Karlinger Haus was upon, our stay for this evening! It is a large, stone hut over-looking a nice, smallish lake called the Funten See. The people are friendly and you spend the afternoon and evening sitting in the main dinning/games area. They have all manors of drinks, yet at the same time the wooden interior and atmosphere feels like I am at a boy Scouts camp! We are in a room with two bunk beds. The beds are comfortable and two other German guys sleep in the room with us. We slept well and were up at 6am

Day 2
LOCATION (Sleep)- Click Here (Google Maps)

Karlinger Haus (Germany) to Ingolstader-Haus (Austria)
This morning starts with a light rain, but the clouds are higher and “seem” to be thinning…when we left at 8am, indeed, no real rain anymore! While passing the Futen See following the trail, on the left side of the Gr. Hirsch summit (just below), you can see the figure or outline of a person- sort of like, to me, similar to the now fallen “Old Man on the Mountain” in the White Mountains, NH, USA. We started a lovely climb into a thinly populated (trees that is) forest, heading to a pass with increasing rocks and boulders with free mountain sheep and an ever-decreasing forest. Finally, after an hour of steady climbing upward, we come out into the Steinerness Meer (stony lake), which is like a see of gray rocks, with streaks of reddish color here and there and pockets of snow still around. What a contrast form the early morning, but still beautiful. We were amazed by the patterns, shapes and weather marks within the limestone- even seeing some fossils imprinted in the rocks here and there. Soon we came upon rock climbers as we descended a bit, even a group of what I could only guess were from the Austrian military. At this point we also arrived at our lunch stop- the lovely Riemannhaus.

After a refreshing beer with 7-Up, we headed back in the direction of Germany (even though we would not get there until day three) with a steady ascend with dips, snowfields and many tricky areas. I can only describe this afternoon of hiking as difficult, especially with a 25-kilo pack on (should be only 15 kilos next time, for sure!). Wi-Jo was handling this much better and was often leading the way. After a while we saw the next hut in sight, Ingolstader-Haus hut and I was very happy to be there!

Once arriving, we saw our Finish friends whom we met the night before at the last hut, Tapio and Sirpa. We joined them with a beer. This hut was family run, and much loser than the first hut. It was Mid Summers Night and a festival and tradition, which has been carried out since before Roman times (Pagan) was to take place, weather permitting- the lighting of huge bin-fires on the mountain tops. After getting our room, a double bunk bed on the side of the two-story building, which felt crooked and certainly creaky, we hung out in the common area, drinking beer and making friends. One such group of new friends was Heniy and his nice girlfriend. They told us many stories and we ate and drank till the fires started appearing on the summits, far off in the distance, like a signal from long ago. At this point I was, well, a bit feeling the beer and local mountain schnapps, thus we headed up around midnight to a restless sleep, although still not all that bad.

Day 3
General LOCATION: Click Here (Google Maps)

Ingolstader-Haus to Berchtesgaden, Germany
When I awoke, although not really hung-over, I knew that drinking more than a beer or two was now a mistake. Oh well, no time to complain; (Actually this hut is certainly more lively than the first one- yet they both have their advantages... like better sleep with less partying!) with only one mans toilet bowl for 150 men, I had to get waiting! After a hardy breakfast, and feeling the muscle aches, we headed off, first with a slight decline along a steep mountain face, turning basically into a cliff along our left side. The weather was nice, no or little clouds and full thus of sun.

That cliff, as it turned out, was where we had to head… seemingly right into it! But somehow they paint-marked a way up through this seemingly un-passable section, often climbing a bit. With all factors considered (pack weight, not 100% in shape<<my weight>>, more snow pack than expected, the beers the night before and the aches already there in my feet and legs), I had to really take it slow and pace myself. Naturally, also taking pictures here and there!

After a good hour of pretty heavy climbing, what was sort of straight up; we reached the top of the pass or saddle as they called it, where we met Tapio and Sirpa (You can see their picts here.) again. And here there were the best views of the Watzmann, with its pinnacle peaking summit. After a break, we headed along and pretty quickly down, into an ever-steeper descent, often on lose gravel and once again some snowfields. This also proofed tricky in my condition, yet with time, I got through it. Wi-Jo had to wait many times, but he assured me this was no problem, which was great to hear. (Wi-Jo is about 2 meters something or about 6’5” if not taller- thus his stride was longer or bigger per step, not to mention he was apparently in better shape, AND did not drink us much celebratory beverages as I did the night before!)

We finally made this huge descend into a valley, here we immediately went up again and then down into a cross in the path, where we would eat lunch and enjoy the surroundings in yet another valley of beauty.

Then we headed down, down, down, till we got this awesome view of one of the widest gravel/stream beds (mostly dry) that I have ever laid my eyes on! Once down in the gravel, the challenges continued, as it was this day pretty warm and the gravel makes for extra work. Yet, the beauty of it all is so intense, that the body somehow keeps going thanks to mind (Well, better said thanks to God!). We start to wonder where the water is, after crossing two or three large, dry sections, like this. Then, the water, like it does in mountain areas, just surfaces and produces great flows, very quickly.

Finally we arrive down at the public entrance to the Berchtsagaden. The walkers down below are less friendly, but the scenery still nice. We bought some farm-fresh ice cream, which was just delicious! Before long, we are back at the hotel. I was truly spent. And my feet too, even with tape! What a trip. Looking forward to the last leg, but knowing now I need to work-out more and serious and re-consider my pack-list! Yet the satisfaction of completing this first major goal is nice.

I try to keep jogging and riding the bike to work, but with so much traveling it is difficult. Yet, I manage, even jogging a few times when in Chicago at a show and picking things up 10-days before departure for the fourth and surely exciting leg!


Lenk, Switzerland, Simmenfälle, Flüssellihütte (Fluhsee), Wildstrubelhütten, Iffigenalp, Iffigenfälle;
SWITZERLAND, Lenk- Berner Oberland

LOCATION: Click Here (Google Maps)
Used the lonely planet book called, "Walking in Switzerland " by Clem Lindenmayer for days 3 and 4 of this hike. It was good BUT you need a good topographical map also (Just about always in any remote area).
Map used: Swisstopo nr. 263 titled, "Wildstrubel" which is a 1:50,000
(Would recommend 1:25,000 for this area though.)

17 September till 22 September 2007 (5 day hike) –

We arrived in Lenk, Switzerland on a sunny Monday the 17th. Of September. The afternoon is busily spent getting the last supplies and making numerous weather checks and inquiries of conditions up top, as snow and cold is predicted. As it appears now, in the early evening, tomorrow (starting later tonight) will bring a lot of rain and snow at 2,600 meters and higher- and some reports going as low as 1,500 meters, which would be immediate problems for us. Thus, we may have to adjust things or delay departure up the high alpine territory, but first a big buffet dinner at the hotel and a fine nights rest here at the Krone Hotel in bustling, small and cozy Lenk.

DAY 2 18 September
Today we were supposed to go further up the mountain, towards the glaciers however we awake to the predicted heavy rain with the forecast to stay as such the entire day and into the night. And, the snow is falling from 2,000 meters and higher, which would mean we would run into the slippery stuff later this afternoon if we choose to go- thus after a delicious breakfast we keep the room for another night and decide to use one of our “extra” days to start off with a message and a smallish warm-up hike in lower altitudes this afternoon, rain or not!

As per the recommendation of the hotels hostess, we walk from our hotel in central Lenk to The Restaurant Wallegg, mid-way up what I a ski slope in the winter. The path up was easy, although quite steep in places, making it a fine warm-up. It rained most of the way, yet the path primarily followed a river, which turned into a flume, Wallbachschlucht, with small waterfalls and large rapids along the way- it was quite beautiful in this gray weather and of course many fine photos likely will come out of this adventure. We had a great lunch in an authentic (view out window) atmosphere for Berner Oberland and although wet, the 2 hour round-trip was a fantastic way to start and we had a very comfortable hotel room with those large down-feathered blankets and first a fine snack at another restaurant in the village which makes the local favorite, “Flamenkuche” or ‘flaming cookies” which is more a think crusted pizza bottom (very thin) with small amounts of cheeses, onions and a topping- my favorite being poulet curry (chicken)!

DAY 3 - 19 September
Lenk, By bus to Simmenfalle then hike up to the Flueseeli(hütte) and Fluhsee next to it, some 2,000 meters high.
Hut LOCATION: Click Here (Google Maps)

7:20 am
Sleeping with the windows wide open, we had a view right out onto the mountain we would walk up. I awake to a crisp, slight breeze on my left cheek, with the open window only a few feet away, as I slowly open my eyes and fuzzily gaze out of the wide open wood-framed window to the seemingly breaking fog, only hanging along the upward slopes and not in the valley of Lenk. As the warmth of my blanket is left, it is clear that it is still chilly- maybe 40 degrees F. Makes me wonder just how much snow fell and just how low did it go. In between breaks in the fog, we could see blue skies and sun. This gave us hope, as Wi-Jo also stirred into action. The locals just shrug this weather off and hope it will all quickly melt away (the snow higher up), if not today, then tomorrow. And in any event, with proper hiking shows (which we have) it should be no real problem, although of course perhaps a bit trickier. We shall see though, for we are respectively going to head up this seemingly sheer cliff to a ridge and summit of sorts where our first night stays will commence- The Flüssellihütte. First however, time for breakfast!
10:00am Bus from Lenk “central” station to Hotel Simmenfälle by the waterfall with the same name, minus the “hotel” part naturally.
10:20am We start our ascend, just as it is very clear that the fog is 100% gone and a perfect, clear, day is ahead of us, although still crisp, yet slowly warming to a certain degree.

The path upward generally follows the stream and the various falls and flumes it creates. After about 40 minutes of picture perfect alpine landscape and stunning waterfalls here and there, the access road ends by a gasthuis or hütte of sorts, which also acts as a biologic farm- it’s name is Rezliberg. We sign a board down here, stating we plan on sleeping up above in the Flüssellihütte and head further, towards a broad plain, which buffs up against a massive cliff face. To the right of our direction, we first take the small side-trip over to the Brünne or spring or source for the Simme river. As the name says, it claims this spring stems from seven sources, which literally form the start of the Simme River, which feeds into the mighty Rhine river and feeds much of Germanic Europe. It seems to simple bubble out of the cliff face and very quickly becomes a powerful stream, picking up pace with the ever increasing descent and added sources of water along the way, right into Lenk and further down the valley.

After this refreshing side-trip, we track back and then head up to the cliff face, walking bravely, yet mercifully straight at this massive wall of earth, rock and falling water, trusting the maps and books that this trail will wind it’s way somehow up this wall-face. And as hiking goes, before you know it, you have height and views, with every step that we take. It is pretty demanding, more tiring than dangerous although there are exposed areas and pretty steep sections. After about two hours of this upward ascent, and two friendly goats along the way, we reach, like a bottle of champagne, the top and seemingly “pop” up onto a mountain grassy plain as well as the first other two hikers we have seen the entire morning! There, just beyond the low grassy meadow, we see the crystal clear, glacier feed lake called the Flühsee or Flüsellisee. And just beyond there, off to the left by the cliff we see the roof of our hut, just over a rolling hill and head off to it, still in the bright sun of the day, around 14:30. This will be our home (little did we know just how much) for the night!

Upon approaching the hut, as you can see in this picture I captured, we were a bit surprised to see a high-powered rifle propped-up along the outside of the shelter. Walking around inside and what not was also a man in all green. Turned out (of course) it was his gun and he was very friendly- his name was René, a painter from the small village below, Lenk, whom was up here for a couple days, hunting. This hut is not manned and very small, meaning you have to cook and totally take care of yourself. It has a series of bunk beds (three on top of one another basically), a kitchen, sitting room and stove/wood heater, all in one more-or-less square room of about 5 x 5 meters (15’ x 15’). Part of the building, but you must enter from another entrance is a wood cutting and storage area, stocked with plenty of dry firewood and an “outhouse” which is fitted with a modern toilet seat. In general it is well supplied and all sorts of cooking equipment, like pots, pans, sifters, spoons, knives, forks- basically everything you need to cook your meals, even salt, pepper and the likes! It was very cozy.

René was going back down the mountain and was just preparing to leave. Then he shared with us what he had shot. It was a wild mountain goat or “Gems” as they call them in German, just like the one we saw in the wild on our hiking trip to Steinerness Meer in Germany. Yet now he was hanging from his horns on the gutter of the hütte, still in a strange way looking proud, with beautiful green eyes and a pine branch in his mouth. (Never asked if that had any tradition around it, but it did look fitting.) His coat was very soft, surprising so to me and although now gutted, still was very fresh. He had killed it early this morning, when he awoke to the snow, the Gems also were affected by this storm and ‘moved down’ from the shelter of the cliffs and crevasses above to the plains were the hut was. It was an easy kill, and a relative small one, yet legal and will be sold below for meat. Yet now, he had to hoist this beast up on his shoulders and carry it down for 3+ hours! (He got a call from a friend whom was calling to say that the helicopter that was flying around was for someone who shot one in a place where he could not get to it and needed to call in the chopper to help- they laughed at this!) I took many pictures of René and his prey and he asked for us to email them to him. It was hunting season we learned and as we would later hear more about, the Swiss take this very serious.

Wi-Jo just started the first fire in the wood burning stove and prepared a fine tomato soup with a cup of instant, yet delicious coffee. OK, time to relax and enjoy the weather and views of Lenk and the mountains in general!

20:00 – It is almost dark, the sun has dipped behind a fluffy, now reddish could, of course to the west and as I write now further down, behind a further away mountain range. The sky and resulting sunset is not a full-glory sort, yet produced a nice, fuzzy, pinkish or purple coloration of the sky- like a fine tainting there of.

We are now having coffee again outside on the ridge (hill) next to the hut overlooking Lenk. A father and daughter came up this afternoon and had coffee with us earlier. They were quite happy that we offered them this and we talked for a while, like people visiting “our” house or something! She had got off work early at around noon, so as any good mountain folk would do, called her father and asked if he wanted to climb up to the hütte! Up they climbed and then at 16:15, with us, they decided to head back down, as it was a solid three hours and it gets darkish around 7. They also saw René going down with his prize and the man knew him as the painter in Lenk.

Now, at this sun-setting hour it is so peaceful here. On one side of the hut, opposite from the hill where we often sat, you hear this hard falling spring that starts well up the cliff, with a few waterfalls in between, that basically drops down into the rocks and eventually the lake behind us and the hütte. On the side where we sit on the hill over-looking Lenk, the another hill behind us and the hut blocks out the sound of the water falling from the spring onto the rocks and oozing into the lake. Yet, we hear this very soothing sound of the well made to bubble up through a pipe that goes into a trough, like horses would drink out of, which has another pipe that drains the excess water back down into the spring. Now it is time to split that 16oz beer that René so kindly gave us, white beer or not, I am looking forward to it!

DAY 4 - 20 September
Flueseelihütte, via Rezligletschersee, Tierbergsattel and Rawilseeleni to the Wildstrubel(Hütte)
10:45 am

We depart at 10:45 or so. I slept not that great, for first I was always trying to stay awake to place a log on the fire, and then when I fell asleep too long, kept waking up from the cold! Anyway, my bad, for as Wi-Jo asked- why did you not take a second or third blanket, as there were enough for 20 people! It is a bright, yet still coldish (I guess about 30 or so) morning, with the sun beaming down on us. We will head up, up, up today to nearly 3,000 meters (10,000 feet) to the Wildstrubelhütte.

11:10 till 11:55 – We take a wrong turn! We headed along a cliff, with barely any path AND it was covered with ice, snow and well, actually pretty dangerous. We headed back, for we decided that this way was way too dangerous with ice and all, but once back at the point were we went wrong realized that we took another, smaller, not very well marked trail (not the main path we were to follow), so decided to continue up- even though it was fully snow covered with NO tracks! Yet on the main path it was not so much ice as it was a thin (2-4 inches in places, non in others on larger rock areas) and not all that slippery with our good hiking shoes on. The only track we saw, for the longest way actually, was that of a fox. The hiking was good, the footing fine and the temperature in the sun feeling very nice- enough so that I removed my coat and sweater and was just wearing two t-shirts, which with the heavy packs and hiking was just fine. (We see this wild pilot give us a cool, close-up show!)

At around 12:20 or so we reach the top of this ridge called Flueseehöri, which presents a great view, the first view, of the nose or snout of the glacier, as well as some spectacular alpine-glacier landscape views. It feels like you have landed on a outer-space planet and with the snow and NO ONE else around, even more special! This tip of the glacier, oozing through a low point in the peak just above and ahead of us is from the Rezligletscher, which joins with the larger Plain Morte, which we will glance the next day. This peak is 3,000 meters plus and forms a plateau of sorts once on top. The path takes us down a bit, right, right along the Rezligletshersee (2,261 meters) and is said to be not well marked. We however found it great, even in the snow covered conditions, as it did keep you thinking, but we always found the right way through red/white/red paint stripes, piles of rocks (Rock Men) or poles held up by piles of rocks (There is a picture of Wi-Jo fixing one back in place.). I found it to be the most beautiful hour of the entire day, on that planet of mine, and I felt the best physically then as well. The Alpine views are incredible and at one place, where we ate lunch, you can see Lenk and even a bit of the hut from last night! We ate at 1:15 in the lovely sun and still totally alone- there are fantastic rocks with crystals and fine patterns all over. We collect a view, but not too many, otherwise we would really be over-loaded!

After lunch we ascend again, this time along the northern slopes, which starts fine for the first hour or so. After crossing a moraine filled gully or mainly dry broad streambed, we see the first other people of the day. From this point we head up again, zigzagging along a snowdrift. It was getting tougher, but we figured we were close to the hut. The last part of this section was in shade the whole way, with quite a bit of snowfall. I was glad that someone had walked before us, as this was hard to follow from the way we were coming up, yet it was getting pretty tiring. (5-8 inches of snow really) Finally we reach the Tierbergsattel or saddle of sorts. With more lovely views, two lakes below and the mid-station for a military cable car, we joyfully head down this dark-rock (small pieces) section. What we now realized is that we still had (once down by the lakes and picking up a bigger trail again) at least one hour and fifteen minutes to go- and it was basically, no, no basically about it- it was straight up (or as straight as one could switch-back there way up with out ropes and the likes!). Now, I may be a bit exaggerating, as by now I was physically and mentally done. But, we head up and Wi-Jo is still in good shape, the Weisshorn western face with the sun basically behind us at this point. There is still a lot of snow here, getting slick from the sun and melting quite a bit. This small hour, proved to be more like almost two hours for us! (Starts "easier"- see the hikers [dots] in this pict!) It was very challenging, slow going, but we kept in going. When we got close to the top, I was really taking small steps, so Wi-Jo offered to plow ahead, drop his pack on top and come back down to get my pack, to assist with the last 15 minutes. And FINALLY, with his generous help (what a team player!), we made it to the top! I put my pack back on and we walked up to the Wildstrubelhütte together! This hut (an old hut, coupled with a modern section) stands at 2,793 meters and overlooks the area we just climbed up and behind it, on the summit sits the military radar base. There are about 15 people there and along with the signs starting to be in French, we hear 5 or 6 French speaking people in the hut as well- we literally are sitting on the border between the states of Valais and Bernses Oberland.

Tomorrow we were to head clear into the French section, but for several reasons (one being the car is in Lenk), we alter the way down, back to 1,000 meters via another route. For now, rest! Hiking shoes off, aahhhh, that feels great. No blisters, also fine!

We sit with a Swiss couple (about 65 years old mind you) at dinner (He was a retired fireman in Bern) and have a cozy and lekker meal. Some sort of beef on a round bone with a sort of “cole” vegetable of sorts (Wi-Jo loved those) and some sort of rice.. all quite surprising good so high in the mountains! The lady offers a great web site, in Swiss about hiking and trails in Switzerland – http://www.gipfelbuch.ch After dinner we all go outside and watch a grand sunset over looking the area we came up from and on the other side in the moon coming up, a perfect half moon! Here is where I met Andreas, whom was also taking many pictures- so we talked shop about photography and Switzerland and all manner of things. He LOVES the mountains and hikes, well, every week. He even volunteers for the Swiss government (some agency there of) to measure the glaciers- which he reports to us have shrunk 40% since 1850, with 10% of that melting happening in the last 30 years! That is scary. Let us now forget that these glaciers are feeding many of the springs, outlets and streams that later become the Rhine and feed a large part of Europe. He brings out pictures and maps- showing the 1850 maps, 1920 maps and modern maps, showing the CLEAR shrinkage and general retreat of the glaciers. He promises to send me links to some panorama making software for the Mac- oh yes, he is a fellow Mac user! (By the way, full phone reception the entire hiking trip, which is wild!) It was also extremely fitting and a coincidence that one of the main reason for this adventure to this area was to see a glacier, for they may just disappear with the way global warming is going- and here you go, we meet Andreas. It is serious folks- they are shrinking and the Great Lakes are losing water and the ice caps melting.

Later, just before bed at 21:00 (9PM), (yes, early, but although I have my strength back, still tired), I stepped outside to get a breath of fresh air and view the twinkling stars. I am alone- or so I thought… then I see out of the corner of my eye a creature, zigzagging towards me, it is a fox, with bushy tail and all! He was not stopping, so I back-stepped closer to the door, when he whizzed just past me, to a pile of bones (the beef bones from what was just on our dinner tables!), by the rock wall, just by the entrance! I call the rest and we get many nice pictures- the fox is not afraid of us and is looking VERY healthy. Once in bed, me on the bottom bunk and Wi-Jo on the top bunk, we hear many stories from two Swiss guys- father down on my level and his son up with Wi-Jo. The son loves the Dutch, for they are also friendly like the Swiss he claims, both coming from German blood, but yet different- and he LOVES football and those crazy, yet friendly orange Dutch fans! (The Dutch football or soccer fans are actually an asset of Holland!). The father below with me, whom was 74 (!), spoke in 6 languages and sang in 8! Well, we got to hear him sing in three and it was a fitting way to fall asleep to.

DAY 5 - 21 September 2007
Wildstrubel(Hütte), Glacier de la Plaine Morte/ panorama lookout point, Rawilseeleni, stierlager, Blattinhütte, Iffigenlap, LENK!

It was breakfast at 8- no, not 8:30 (inside joke), 8, a hearty brown bread with jam and a Musselli youghurt mix with bad (very bad milk) coffee. We also luckily get a liter of their house tea, a sort of fruity thing, reddish in color- this was delicious! We are both feeling good and not much pain. At around 8:40 we head further up, through more snow and steep drop-offs toward a panoramic point that we were told we must visit. The trails were filled with snow, when we heard an echoing "yo-da-lay-he-who" or so- and look to see up by the radar base what appears to be our Swiss father and son from the hut last night (about 1 KM away or so)! We did our best Swiss yelp back- see picture of them here. This viewpoint were we hiked to was at 2,885 meters, the highest Wi-Jo and I would go on this trip. It was also once again below freezing, but the sun beaming down very heavily again. We met the people we had dinner with and they took some pictures of Wi-Jo and I together, which looking back on it, was great! They also showed is where the Matterhorn (back-side view, so to speak) was and the great Mount Blanc, the highest summit in Europe. We could see many peaks, snow and some clear glaciers in the distance- it was a brilliant day! The main highlight of the panorama is the de la Plain Morte glacier, which is stunning to see, yet so peaceful and relaxed. The reflection from the sun is strong. It is so great to see this masterpiece, for this was one of the main reasons to hike in Switzerland and to go so high. For me this morning was awe inspiring and set the tone for the coming descend; down, down, down!

We also see the Wildstrubelhütte down on the other side of the glacier and that will be our way down in just an hour or so. We decided not to head on across and over the other side to Cross Montana, but take a more direct route down (saves a couple hours of walking AND HOURS of train, taxi’s and buses back to Lenk!). We first head back and stop at the hut again to pay, get a drink and then lace up for the big drop back down (See pict HERE- down was one thing, up was another the day before!)to the lovely, civilized Lenk! It should be noted that none of these huts had showers, which was surprising, as Wildstrubelhütte was quite modern- none-the-less, we were stinking by now, at least I was!

The first part down from the hütte we were worried about, as this was the section that was so steep, tiring and snow covered coming up yesterday. Yet after this warm-up to that look-out-point, we were fired-up and ready to go and seemingly sure-footed and steady. (the little training I could work in before this trip has paid off, for sure- as well as the lighter and more wisely packed, back-pack!) How difficult it was going up, was how easy it was going down! We were fresh, fast and even went off the path, free-walking down the wild snow covered stone filled mountain slope- we were down by the two lakes in no time! Here we ate a Mars bar and watched some sort of large bird (eagle?) dark in color with big white spots under each wing… not sure which sort of bird this was, but got some pictures of him and glanced back up where we came from yesterday and just this morning and down we headed!

The landscape, after a steep, icy area, turns to an Alpine, high altitude grassy one and we are making good time. We start to see more people this day than the other days, as it is Friday, the weather great and predicted to stay as such the entire weekend. This time it is three ladies. We do the customary greeting in German, but they reply back in French. As is most common amongst hikers up high or out far, you have a small chat- where did you come from, how was it, etc. It was hard to talk with them, for they only spoke French. So at one point I mentioned we were better with Anglais and two of them volunteered the third to be their English spokesperson- she was from French speaking Canada- Montreal. When she heard I was from MA, we talked about the White Mountains in New Hampshire and how beautiful they are. Then she mentioned the symbol of the state, The Old Man on The Mountain. When I informed her that he had fallen, she was shocked. As many others were when they first heard it. Yet, it seems so fitting, as the mountains are a living, breathing, moving organism of sorts. When hunkered down for the night at the first, small cabin, we heard endless sounds- rocks falling from the cliffs, snow freezing and cracking off, water pouring down on rocks, often causing shifting and groans. Funny how news spreads though, but what a fitting place to hear of the Old Man on the Mountain’s fate- high up in the Alps.

Well, I was glad that we were heading down at this point, as it was steep going. We cross the military cable car not long after chatting with the French speaking ladies into a seemingly impassable cliff face. Yet through passages with chains and still some dangerous exposed areas in the now narrowing path, looking literally straight down, but still the walking is going well and we are sure-footed and filled with energy, as we can see specks, way down below, which will be us shortly! We are moving fast, as we can taste the beer that the small spot of Iffigenlap will offer us and even see the cafe were we will end. The beer is nice, but can hardly wait to get a shower back in Lenk as well!

Going down is hard, in a different way, than going up. Other muscles are used and for sure you feel your knees, ankles and thighs much more. I twisted once my ankle very bad coming down, but somehow it was fine (thanks God!). Basically, the entire last hour of this hike is switch-backing very steeply down. We end up even often in a slight jog at times, just to keep the feet in front of our heads. We are now feeling it quite heavily the last 20 minutes, but know we are close, so very close to competing this leg of the trip and literally just meters away from the café the trail levels off and we can walk normal again! The beer in the sun was delicious. The picture of the literal cliff we just came down via is amazing (here) and you can even see some hikers on it, where we just were!

Later that night, after a nice shower (in a broken shower I may add), we stayed fittingly enough at the Wildstrubel Hotel, as recommended to us by that father and daughter that we met at the Flueseelihütte. We also swim, then head down to the Dutch owned restaurant, de Sternen (3775 Lenk), whom serve us (we thought it was a joke, but she had them from the village party the following week) bitterballen, a Dutch fried snack! And then they show us the new menu, just made for the autumn with “wild” meat on it from the Alps, shot fresh. Of course, I had to get the Gems or mountain goat, for who knows, maybe it was the same one that we saw and touched and that René shot up above. This was very satisfying and although a bit gamy tasting, was quite excellent with the red wine, bacon, pepper sauce- actually, it was awesome. Especially since it came from this lovely Alpine landscape, where it lived surely a great life.

The restaurant, and we sat outside, was very lively with the locals and very busy- full all nights. It was gezzelig and the locals friendly, as we learned about a lot things- like the “shoot out” that was planned this weekend! The guy next to us, a Swiss whom lived and worked mainly in London all of his life, informed us how every Swiss man between the ages of 24 and 54 must own, maintain and be able to shoot a how powered rifle. They must also present it once a year and this is how the shoot out comes about. It is said, he claimed, that within 48-hours Switzerland could muster up 500,000 trained and armed troops, via their so-called militia army. By the way, there are many army people around as well, as there a coupe bases in the area, not to mention the radar base we saw up they’re at 3,000 meters! No wonder Hitler did not come into Switzerland… or was it their banks?

DAY 6 - 22 September 2007
Lenk, Iffigfall, Lenkersee, Lenk

9:00am Breakfast
Feeling certainly a bit stiff, but still much better than during the German/Austrian one. The training, a lighter pack and more rests certainly all helped. Still a long way to go for my condition, but we tackled the last days what was warned as a “medium-hard” walk which required a “high level of fitness.” Well, we did that! So we head off, walking through Lenk and on a long plain towards a large waterfall. It is great to stretch the legs and they respond well after 10 minutes or so. The sun is beating down again and we head up some 300 meters, nothing compared to the last days, but still along a nice stream and fitting alpine scenery. The views as we neared the fall were awesome and the views by and at the Iffigfall really breath-taking. We do our stretching (another thing we did a couple times a day that certainly helped the walks) in the over-power sounds of this massive waterfall. Then head back down, first viewing the shoot-out, before heading into the village to have a late lunch of Flammenkuchen- DELICIOUS!

Another evening at the Dutch place and then to the bar, the only bar in town, for a night-cap and some games of pool with some locals. Well, they were actually east Germans whom are sort of forced to work in Switzerland, as the Polish and other eastern Europeans appear to get their jobs. They liked Switzerland, earned good money, but we still won in pool!

Sunday the 23rd we head back. It was awesome, just awesome that we completed this entire mission, goal and dream. Thank you! It must be stressed that throughout this period I have not really been in a diet. Yet still, I certainly lost weight- down to 91 kilos (from 100), thus down to about 200 pounds. Still a way to go, but this was one heck of a kick-start!

Hiking high, long and for multi-days (hut-to-hut) is a fantastic way to get fit, both physically and mentally. The various legs we did varied, often greatly and the challenges always different. Snow in Switzerland and literally climbing rocks and slushy snow-packs or drifts in Austria. Actually, the hike in Germany and Austria, through the Köningssee, Steinernes Meer & Berchtesgaden, was in our opinion much more difficult than the Wildstrubel walk. OK, I was in slightly better shape, kilos lighter, with a much lighter back (see first trips back-pack list here) and Wi-Jo bought, actually as a gift for me, walking sticks. These sticks help a lot! And oh yes, no blisters this time- that was a BIG one, for those suckers can bug you and cause you to walk weird, which leads to more strains. NEVER go out on a big hiking trip with new hiking boots before not having worn them on at least four to six separate single day trips. My boots (HanWan- German made)were fantastic and carried me well through this high-Alpine terrain.

My tip- go hike, you will not regret it, although you may curse me half way through!

Riding a bike is great, mountain, racing, field- all sorts of biking… jogging is also fine, skiing- well all sorts of sportive activities one can do and enjoy. Yet hiking must by far one of the best (or walking in general). It is possible for all ages and for all levels. It allows you time to see your surroundings, to smell, feel and touch what is around you- Jogging takes it toll on your knees through the pounding and on a bike you whiz by at 30km per hour… ok, better than doing it by car, but you get the picture. And that is just it- you can also make pictures a lot more easily when you hike! Alpine hiking is no sport for wimps mind you and not just because we did it. It is a true work-out, once again, both physically and mentally. Yes, the tea/beer tastes better after a good long, high and long hike!

This hiking adventure has been, as I have said already, just awesome. Thank you to Wi-Jo for building this dream and reality into an incredible adventure- from strange guys in trucks in Belgium telling us in French we are on private property (in the middle of no where) and to get lost, to snow and ice that almost stopped us, but did not. Also thanks to everyone that has made it possible (understanding family, cooperative employer and of course, for me, God.)

What really struck me is the intense beauty of the mountains and unseen yet somehow visible workings of nature. It is, for me, ‘proof of God.’ This brought to mind Hebrews 11 and indeed helped build my faith even further.


Hike, hike, hike- I like to hike!

With any comments, suggestions or corrections, please email me;

David Dilling

My favorite picture- 'The flower and the snow', which you can view here.
For books used in planning and during these adventures, see here.

Das Hiking Journal!


Hiking Pictures & More

Wi-Jo and I (Wi-Jo to the right) after a tough walk and climb to the "Back of the Dog" saddle, called Hundstodgruben, in Germany with the second highest mountain in Germany, The Watzmann, in the background.



Photo Galleries from all 2007 Hiking Trips
*(1) Han-Sur-Lesse, BELGIUM, Ardennes
*(2) Wadlopen in the North Sea (Amerland, NL)
*(3) Köningssee, Steinernes Meer & Berchtesgaden; GERMANY & AUSTRIA
*(4) Simmenfälle, Flüssellihütte, Wildstrubelhütten, Iffigenalp; Lenk, SWITZERLAND




For a list if books used in planning the various aspects of this adventure, see here.






The first days walk begins and ends with well-marked trails. Above you see the "summit" of Saint Martin at a 177 meters! The "in between" part of the walk can get a bit confusing and both the description from the book and a topical map is best.








This was all-in-all a great Ardenne walk. You see all different scenery and it is best a full day. Be warned; based on the walk description in the Dutch walking book, there is a section, just after you go under the highway tunnel and turn left, where it is not so clear and we even get chased off by a couple of guys telling us in French that it is private property, even though you are in the middle of nowhere, in Belgium terms.



Near the end of this walk, we went up (from the other side) this hill or ridge and had a nice view. There are some neat looking caves up there, as you can see in the pictures. From here it was a small thirty minutes back to the center of Han-Sur-Lesse.




The mud flats are long and thick. With a guide, whom winds you through the uncharted routes from the mainland to Amerland Island. Often you will be up to your chest in water! Even though it is low-tide, the current can be strong and the walk is generally quite a good workout.






From the Eagle's Nest view, literally, we see an overview of where we start this hike on the Köningssee and then up and over the mountains into the Steinernes Meer or stony lake .



Overview (Map) from this 3-day hike:
Click Here



The Saugausse. We were warned of this stretch, which looks like it ends up there on this photo, however continues higher and higher for what amounts to a couple hour ascend. There is a lot of flowers and animals to see through this area.













We walked in late June and there was still a lot of snow fields and snow pack about on the trails. Above we see Wi-Jo plunging through the slushy, hard to navigate snow. This proved extra challenging for me, as this wet snow really tires one out. Yet, it makes for some lovely surroundings.







This part of the hike was brutal, although fun, for it was basically part climbing, although with an over-full backpack not overly safe nor enjoyable. It is the climb to the top of Hundstodgatteri which provides lovely views of the area, including the Watzmann mountain. Notice the two reddish specs on the pict. above? Those are other hikers, Tapio and Sirpa!















The couple hour walk from Lenk to Wallegg Restaurant and back proved a great warm-up. Plus, the Wallbachschlucht flume and fast moving stream make it very scenic, not to mention delicious food up at the Wallegg Restaurant!
















Rene, the Swiss hunter we met upon arriving at our hütte for the evening, the Flueseelihütte. This mountain goat or Gems as they call it in the Alps was carried down the mountain and sold to a local restaurant. We even tried it's meat a few days later!




The Flueseelihütte, nestled in some rolling hills, covered with mountain grass, next to a lake, fed by a fast falling stream from high-heights above and further encased by mountain peaks all around it, accept for the north side, which gives a fantastic view of Lenk, way below and off in the distance. This hut is run by the SAC (Swiss Mountain Hiking Club) and payment is made on the honor system- meaning it is an un-manned shelter.


Picture from Lenk (hotel window) zooming in on where the Fluseelihütte is:
Click Here.
Here is a non-zoomed in shot:
Click Here.


View over the crystal clear Flueseelisee.





From the top of the ridge call Flueseehöri we get our first view up ahead and a bit higher up of a glacier. This is the snout of the Rezligletscher.




WI-Jo navigates a particularly deep snow covered area down, past the Rezligletshersee, through the crystal clear stream and rock strewn area. Here the surroundings are almost mystical, incredible.





We experienced a beautiful sunset, crisp, cold weather and a perfect half moon off to the left. It was all worth the hard days work! Above the Wildstrubelhütte- notice no wind!













David and Wi-Jo by the de la Plaine Morte glacier (plain of the dead glacier). From this panoramic point, just a small half hour from the Wildstrubelhütte you can get fantastic 360 degree views of the Swiss Alps including the Matterhorn and Mount Blanc.










The trails down were generally quite steep. Here we see a relatively level section, along sheer drop-offs. The path is well maintained though, with chains and what not where needed. Be careful though, there are some exposed areas.

















Iffigfall, which is about a two hour walk up from Lenk and a great walk for the last day- to keep the legs moving and not getting too stiff. It is a pretty impressive fall as well and easy walk back down.


Copyright David Dilling 2014