Days 12 & 13 – Walking and eclipsing (It’s a tough job but someone’s got to do it)

DAY 12 – Goats, ibex and Jewish bunting?

Pretty easy day. Went for a 6 hour walk up a 2021m minor peak on the Mieminger plateau, Austria called the Judenköpfe (Jewish bunting – go figure!). No more than a basic scramble at the top but what a great day. Met some goats and watched young ibex cavorting across snow fields.

In 6 hours we saw 4 people. I mean, what more can you ask for from a day in the hills?

Mrs. P – The Goat whisperer

DAY 13 (Friday 27th July 2018) – Blutmond (blood moon)

Today was all about the total lunar eclipse. ‘Blutmond’ [Blood moon] shouted all the Austrian papers. We had carefully studied the maps. We needed a clear view to the South East. This is tricky when large mountains are involved and is possibly the only time we have ever wished to be on flatter ground. Oh for the Norfolk Broads where it is so flat I’m told you can watch your dog run away for about 3 days.  Anyway, our walk the previous day (see Day 12) had turned up a likely spot for eclipse spotting and our plan was to treat ourselves to a rare meal out in order to save time so we could leave the campsite by 20.15hrs and be in situ by 20.45.

We did manage to leave on schedule but only after a comedy evening at the restaurant which is attached to the campsite. The food I would like to point out was, when it eventually arrived, delicious. The service however was either highly amusing or irritating in the extreme, depending on your outlook. In our party of 2 we were definitely not of the same opinion here but that did at least mean one of us was able to enjoy the sideshow as it happened around us. The waiting staff were literally (I love it when I get to use that word properly) screaming at each other; panicking and generally running around like headless chickens. The language from the kitchen and from any member of staff near the serving hatch was Germanicly colourful. Orders were wrong, meals turned up at different times and at one point each of the serving staff visited every table to ask if they had ordered the house pizza. We hadn’t but, with one eye on the clock we did consider just going for it.

Suddenly our food arrived. All in order and, as I said delicious – schnitzel and chips – and calm was restored. The kitchen staff stopped shouting, the serving staff all suddenly appeared and sat happily together eating their own food (possibly the house pizza). Could it have been our order that had been the figurative straw that almost broke the hopefully figurative camel’s back? I prefer my schnitzel made from veal.

We then drove up to our spot which we assumed would be a lonely vigil but turned out to be anything but. I shall hand you over to Mrs. P for a perfect description of the evening…

  • We drove Gandalf out there after dinner. [No mention of Austria’s answer to Gordon Ramsay’s next Hells Kitchen challenge in Mrs. P’s precis of the day you may note] Lots of other cars turned up but we were first and had the best spot [we also put the kettle on. Where’s the detail?]. It was cloudy for ages, then we got fleeting glimpses of a red sphere rising in and out of the cloud. It was magical. Then, just at the time of the maximum eclipse the moon floated clear of the stubborn clouds and hung above the ridge line of the mountains opposite. Electrical sheet lightening intermittently flared beyond the ridge and the Milky Way arched above us. We both saw the same 2 shooting stars. Mars [which was also visible just below the moon] was amazing. Satellites, [one was the International space station] planets, stars and the moon. Totally magical and stunning. Then clear sky pervaded as we watched the bright light eat back the moon. Incredible celestial display through both binoculars and with the naked eye. Did not want it to end.

Thank you Mrs P for your poetic input. It just goes to show just how useful an Oxford Education can be. Your cheque is in the post.

Mr & Mrs P at dusk (Possibly our most flattering light) await the rising moon which should appear over Mrs P’s left shoulder any minute (Pesky clouds permitting)

We had only intended on staying to watch for an hour or so but were still in situ 3 ½ hours later as the final stages of the eclipse returned the full moon and dimmed the Milky Way. Our surroundings became more visible as the shadows that only a full moon can cast revealed details we had previously missed. Like the pile of cat poo by the Gandalf’s door that we had both thankfully managed to avoid stepping in despite our reduced vision. (And that ladies and gentlemen is what 6 extremely poor ‘O’ levels can do for one’s poetic skills.)  How do we know it was cat poo? The full moon also revealed a kitten that had been hanging around all evening. We wondered why it kept wandering round the back of the van.)

My surprisingly good photo for a 100mm lens on a tiny tripod (For connoisseurs the Moon is big thing and the small dot is Mars)

…and zoomed in. (Can you see the Clangers? (Reference for older readers. Youngers readers clearly don’t know they are born)

Finally returned to our campsite at 00.30hrs (ish). Engaged Gandalf’s stealth mode in an attempt to not to wake anyone up.

Great day No. 13 comes to an end.

4 thoughts on “Days 12 & 13 – Walking and eclipsing (It’s a tough job but someone’s got to do it)

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