The tarp had one more time successfully kept us dry from the continous rain. Over night there was quite a lot of precipitation coming from the sky which didn’t help to make our soaked clothes dry. Being almost late in departure (surprise!), after only a few kilometres we were special guests of a luxury fish fun park, the „Fischlift Runserau“ (- „Eine innovative Lösung für schwierige Standorte“), whose purpose is to give the fish a ride over the 16 meters water level difference of that small power plant. Incredibly, that project had cost about 3.5 million Euros! Remarkable features like a concrete tower that lifts the fish up, a camera to monitor the fish movement, a tunnel of 600 meters to release the fish upstream PLUS a goody bag from the TIWAG were quite impressive memories of that 2 hours visit. Extremely satisfied by the new knowledge and the short discussions, we had to continue with our bikes all the way until our lunchbreak. Imst is the perfect spot to change a bike for a rafting boat and that’s just what we did. Nearly everyone was boiling under the strong sun and the layers of neoprene, so a cool bath in the crowded Inn was just right. After the briefing of how to handle a paddle, three boats of Riverwalkers hit the waves. Cheering at each other, the landscape was passing quickly. Still, some exciting manoeuvres were tried out: standing up, spinning around or jumping in the refreshing water, for example. The final turn was the jump-out here at Stams, where we are setting up the tarps and preparing the dinner right now – ready to close our eyes full of excitement for the next rafting adventure… Zzzzzz….
Our day began in Strada. After breakfast we had a group game and the first goodbye of our guest walker, Dario 🙁 Our plan was to cross the Swiss-Austrian border which was only ten kilometers away. But after a few minutes an accident happend. A group member fell from her bike with an unintended double salto, resulting in a bruised arm and ellbow. Brave as she is, she went on a few more kilometers but realized she won´t be able to continue. Therefore she left the group one day earlier than planned.
We moved on to the castle Altfinstermünz and enjoyed an audio-guided tour.
The cycling trip went on to Tösens where we had lovely wraps for lunch. We could watch the Inn flowing by with an enormous force and energy.
Later on we met the expert Walter Michaeler for showing us the revitalisation in Serfaus. He taught us about the plant “German Tamarisk'” which is a sign of a natural overflowing river area, similar to the revitalisation project in Strada in Switzerland. In the distance we could already see a wall of rain coming. We arrived soaking wet at the camping ground in Prutz which welcomed us with sunshine and two new guest walkers, Lena and Valentin. They will join us for the following week. After building up the tarps, showering and prepairing the next day we had a delicious lentil dal. We are looking forward to the new chapter in Austria which will start with the rafting tour tomorrow!
After breakfast we had a guided tour at a hydropower plant a few minutes away from the campground. We had a nice guided tour through the buildings. The guide explained us how the power plant produces electricity and how it is built up.
Then we started our way to the next campside in Strada. Shortly before we arrived it began to rain heavily and we had our lunch under a tree (so romantic!!!). The tarps were already set up by our bus drivers. At half past two Thomas picked use up and we helped out cleaning up along a restored part of the Inn.
Highlights were for example: Shoes, pipes, a big metal piece and many plastic things.
We collected trash for about 1 ½ h. Afterwards we had our next input from Pio Pitsch, an expert in restoring rivers and river ecology. He told us about how the river had changed in the last 30-40 years and also about a restoring project which ended in 2012. Many measures were getting done for reaching a natural river ecosystem.
The last evening in the Swiss we spent in a nice little restaurant in Strada next to the Inn. We had an awesome dinner with homemade dumplings and also (the best) homemade Engadiner nutcake.
The rest of the evening we laughed a lot and had a great time in the fancy restaurant. Big thanks to everyone who made the tour in Switzerland so special and thanks for the great hospitality that we experienced whenever we got in touch with the Räto-Romanic people in Upper and Lower Engadin! Thanks to Angelika Abderhalden who took every effort to make the Swiss part of Riverwalk 2017 unforgettable!
“How is the weather going to be ?”, someone asked in the morning, having the eyes still closed. It was predicted to be rainy for 100% and we weren’t sure how to take it. However, we made our bikes ready and started our trip. First destination would be the village Guarda.
Our guides told us about the road. Some down, some up, they said with this creepy I-won’t-tell-you-how-much-down-and-how-much-up-it-will-go-smile. After clapping in the hands we hit the road. We packed some water and a rain jacked just in case .
The first path was great and pretty easy. When we waited at a fountain our guides had this creepy smile again in their faces. “Now we will make a break for drinking and for loosing some clothes, because now section with the steep-part starts”
After riding up the mountain for more than 40 minutes, we understood where that smile came from. We took the mountain slowly but in the end even the members who weren’t experienced with riding a mountain up before, reached the top. The street to our destination was wet – not us !
Guarda is a little clichés village from a fairytale. There we would meet Maria, who was the first female mayor some years ago. Just yesterday night a part of our group watched a movie at an open air cinema and heard about that in the early 1970s women were finally allowed to vote in Switzerland. Maria had a smile in her face when we told her about it and shared some of the experiences she made back in that time.Despite that she told us about beautiful Guarda and its interesting history. After meeting Maria we had the pleasure to be invited to a lovely prepared regional lunch at one of the villages farms owned by Ulrike and her family who produce organic meat and dairy-products.
This prepared us well for our challenging ride to the campground where we faced first small “group-dynamic-problems”. After these slight struggles we enjoyed a wonderful afternoon at the river, since it was the first real hot summer day. Only the summer storm disturbed us while having our dinner, but we still fell into bed with a smile on our faces.
We luckily woke up at a dry camping place, something we don´t take for granted since spending a few nights in the wet bog that the camping Maloja was. We were able to make our breakfast in a real kitchen, again something we really began to appreciate. The group had an exciting day ahead as we split in two parts, one that began with cycling and the other one with canoes. The canoe group first had some training with Lucas Barth from Kanuschule Scuol before going down the river for a great ride and meeting the others (who got there with bikes) in Madulain for switching from the canoes to the bikes. We are really thankful for Lukas, who offered to do the whole canoe trip for free which came in really handy and we would love to recommend his school to everyone who would like to do some canoeing or kayaking in such a beautiful surrounding. After the second part of the group had their turn on the river, the group got together S-Chanf and continued for 15 km with bikes. It was our first real bike ride on the Riverwalk and we had some problems on the steep parts but in the end we all managed to get to Zernez where we will spend our night on a dry and flat camping ground, a true rarity so far. Only two days until we hit the Austrian border. Time flies!
Our last night at Camping Maloja had come to a freezing end but as the sky was blue and the sunbeams stopped (most of) us from dreaming, we enjoyed the breakfast on the wet ground (as always wet).
The wet tarps could easily dry in the first warmth, just like our feet. To prepare ourself for the long hiking day we came together in a circle to find out about today´s challenge of moving 25 km by foot. Following the big lakes Silser, Silvaplana and St. Moritz we got to know the Inn river in its very first meters. On our way we encountered waterfalls with landart in front, a small village with rustic old houses combined with modern windows and the very first power plant of our next 517 km. Our van drivers bought our supplies for the next two days and provided us with lunch on our way. During lunch some of our group got interviewed by a local journalist. The longer we were moving on our feet, the more they were hurting, but we managed to motivate ourselves with jokes, singing, language crash courses and profound conversations. By the amount of people who sank down at the camp ground you could tell it was quite a journey. And…guess what! … We are already prepared for tomorrow! The typical Swiss dinner „Älpler Magroni“ gave us back our energy and the bikes have already arrived.
After a very cold night where we all got frozen feet, the day started early with sunshine and a lot of porridge. The plan for today is to visit the spring of the river Inn and fill some self-designed bottles as a present to supporters of the Riverwalk.
Elisabeth from the WWF Austria and Anita from WWF Graubünden joined us. Before we started our tour a women from a Rhaeto-Romanic radio interviewed some of us.
Then the beautiful hiking could begin. It was our first hike and took us some time to find a common speed. After some time we found our group pace and arrived altogether happily at the lake. We also managed to make fantastic photographs and videos.
Fascinating were the different flowers and rocks, mountains of green granit and the mountain lake.
We splitted the group too often, because some wanted to go to the peak, the spring, stay at the lake or go back to the camp. It lead to difficulties but we all found back to the camp.
In the evening sun we enjoyed barley soup and prepaired for the next day.
We changed our frozen feet to sunburnt faces.
Now we will go to the bonfire, celebrate the last night in Maloja with stickbread and look back on our exciting first hiking
After a really cold night we woke up and enjoyed the beautiful weather that held up for the whole day. Some of us started with a jump into the wonderful, yet extremely cold lake while others preferred a cup of hot coffee. The whole group started the program with some getting-to-know-each-other-games on a beautiful mountain meadow in company of a few curious cows. We also welcomed a few new participants from Switzerland that joined us right at lunch time. After the lunch we met two journalists that took a few photos and did some interviews with the participants. Angelika and Elisabeth from WWF CH and WWF AT provided us with some very interesting background information on what´s currently happening at the Inn river. We did some more name games to welcome Michèle and Franzi. We also formed the family groups and explained their roles. Now we are just cooking a delicious dinner and getting ready for the next day. We are all very excited for tomorrow´s hike to the mountain lake where the Inn river starts. Starting from there we will hike, bike and raft all the 517 kilometers from Maloja to Passau in Germany for the next three weeks. Whoohoo!
We, Max, Daniel, Daniela, Jasmin, Martin & Nina who had already arrived with the WWF van yesterday evening, started the day with breakfast (who would have guessed that!?). The night was dry and no one got wet. So, being too lazy to set up our tarps wasn´t a bad mistake and sleeping under the stars paid off! Before midday we began setting up the tarps while we were waiting for the others to arrive. By now (21:00) we’re still missing 7 people. Anyways, Maloja and the campsite we’re staying at motivates us to explore the amazing landscape around us: mountains, lakes, rivers, forests and the „wetlands“. By the way, the ground is pretty wet…
Quote of the day: “How do we stay dry while sleeping?”
We’re looking forward to meeting the rest of the crew and having our „Team-Day“ tomorrow. Why are we all here? What are our expectations? What could be the potential challenges on our 24 days from the spring here in Maloja to the confluence in Passau?
Later, we’ll get an overview over the whole project by the WWF representatives from Switzerland and Austria, Angelika Abderhalden and Elisabeth Sötz, and we’ll hear about the potentials for river preservation along the Inn.
Now, we´re all sitting at the bonfire, super excited about embarking on our adventure and hopefully see you on our first hike to source of the Inn on July 16!
Join the Riverwalk team 2017 as they walk to the source of the mighty Inn River!
What: A hike to the source of the Inn!
When: Sunday, July 16, 2017
Where/meeting point: 9:30 AM at the tourist office in Maloja (by the bus stop Posta)
Why: 20 young adults from Austria, Germany and Switzerland will be gathering in Maloja to start their 3 week, 500+ kilometer journey from the source to the confluence with the Danube (Germany). You can help to send them off by joining them as they walk to the source of the Inn.
Details on the hike: The hike will be an all day event and last from 9:30-17:00. It will ascend 800 meters so please make sure you are conditioned for the hike. Please bring appropriate clothing and footwear as well. Food and drink will not be provided so please bring sufficent water, food, etc.!
Along the hike, you’ll get a behind the scenes look into the Riverwalk project and gather first-hand information from engaged and motivated river protectors: WWF staff and Riverwalk participants.
So, join us for a powerful start to this epic journey! Let’s walk…Riverwalk 2017!