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Tirolers on the Canol
by Johnny Vigl, July 1993

FOR MY FRIENDS FOR MEMORY

PREFACE

Since my first stay in Canada it was my desire to become better acquainted with the Canadian wilderness. I had come to the realization that humans with a sedentary working life need active vacation. What could be more of an active vacation than one in the Canadian wilderness?

After discussing my vacation idea with Peter I procured for myself information about the Northwest Territories. The Canadian tourist board sent me a map and a brochure about the most important tourist attractions. Just by looking at the map one could see the remoteness of the Canol Heritage Trail, because it is shown only as a footpath in the remote mountains. Thus my interest was piqued, and I procured further information for myself.

Peter made a few comments about the "purity of the wilderness," and had already announced his plans for a merry adventure merry from Imst (our hometown in Austria.)- he had already decided that he already wanted to do it. Finally a group of six crystallized.

The preparatory work included finding out about climatic conditions, trail description, etc., as well as the creation of an equipment list and a food supply concept.

The group included:

Werner SENN

Werner UNSIN

Willi SCHATZ

Walter KOELL

Peter NOTHDURFTER

(and naturally me, Johnny VIGL)

The preparatory work included finding out about climatic conditions, trail description, etc., as well as the creation of an equipment list and a food supply concept. We also tried to find more information about the area. Several discussions were NOT short, because we continued them until everyone was informed about all important facts of this trip.

TRIP DIARY

Sunday, 11 July 1993

At 5.00 o'clock in the morning we departed from Imst to Innsbruck. I came directly from working in the hotel post office. Waltraud takes us by bus to the airport. We fly Tyrolean Airlines to Amsterdam. There we have some hours to stay, which we use to see the city. At the station Peter meets a lawyer returning to Imst,

Dr. Andi Finch. We assume that by the next day Imst will know everything about where we went (the red light district and so...). After we returned we found that we assumed correctly.

In the afternoon we take off for Toronto, where we must go through the immigration formalities. As is common in Canada, this procedure goes exactly to regulation, but is friendly. The long flight to Edmonton does not leave a lasting impression- we are simply too tired. Nevertheless, after checking in to the hotel, go to a neighboring Chinese restaurant, where despite my impressive Karaoke talents, Doc Werner slumbers peacefully. We play a joke on him by having the waiter wake him up and tell him that he is paying the bill for all of us.

Monday, 12 July 1993

We fly from Edmonton to Yellowknife and on to Norman Wells via Canadian North. But just before landing the pilot guns the motor and continues flying. The reason: because of numerous wildfires the runway is cloaked and invisible in smoke. Thus we get a free excursion to Inuvik, about 500 km north. During the approach we have a beautiful view of the Mackenzie River, which continues to flow somewhat north into the polar sea.

After a one hour stay in Inuvik the smoke decreases, so we fly back to Norman Wells and this time the landing takes place.

The Norman Wells taxi brings us to the "Camping By The River Near The Docks" campground. The old car is driven by a former race car driver, who does not think anything of driving 100 km/h over the streets . After setting up the tents and some stretching we go directly to the store. The time for buying liquor has passed, however. Thus, unfortunately, no beer for today. The cooking stove and fire place are prepared, and soon there is some good Austrian soup.

While I make the spaghetti, Walter and Werner S. are already asleep. The flight was considerably exhausting. The North welcomes us with typical northern weather - moderate, but regular downpours.

Tuesday, 13 July 1993

In the morning, Willi goes with me to get organized. We get a fishing license quite simply and unproblematically while taking care of our other business. It costs $42 Can. for one year plus tax (5%). The RCMP interviews Willi and I and we explain, what we intend to do. The Mounties are very friendly. Then we arrange the flight with the North-Wright Air to the Godlin Lakes, where we want to start our hike. This flight costs us $1,359 Can.

When we return to our camp, concern prevails. Werner S. has a painfully swollen leg. Dr. Werner taps on the blood clot. Walking is impossible for the patient, we must support or carry him. Doc Werner and I carry him carefully to get him to medical care. The telephonic connection with the Eurocard insurance is very complicated, because in Europe is after midnight. But owing to the helpfulness of all to whom we turn, we make slow progress. Just before 4.00 in the afternoon the lady of the Northern tourist office with its private car comes and wants to take Werner immediately to the airport, because the insurance their O.K. to fly him to Edmonton. They hurry, but they can't get to the airport in time and the plane leaves before our eyes.

Therefore we bring Werner to the local hospital ward. Dr. Walker, who arrived in the afternoon, examines him. He arranges for him to be put in the hospital in Yellowknife and clarifies the covering of the costs with the insurance. Just after midnight the air outpatient clinic comes and take the Werners (the other Werner is accompanying him) to the hospital. We hope all for nothing bad and shift our start to an indefinite time.

Already, that morning, Michael from Switzerland is introduced to us. He would like to accompany us. We become acquainted with him as an experienced hiker, who knows much about the life in the wilderness and on the trail. In the evening he comes to our place with all of his equipment and sets up his tent.

Late in the evening a Cree Indian emerges, who absolutely wants to lead us. We tell him that we do not need a leader, but he with us remains the whole night, dances around the fire, and robs us of our sleep with bear roars and his dog.

Wednesday, 14 July 1993

We are not in our campground alone. It is also a southern Canadian couple here, that wants to fill up its stocks with fish for the winter. They go away to each day in the morning for fishing and return in the evening with a huge catch.

Until yesterday evening I cooked on high heat, in order to test the performance ability of the stove. From today on we changed to an open fire. On the Mackenzie bank there is driftwood in abundance, and we need to make sure the fire never goes out. At the position of the bluff one can see, how high the river is due to the Spring thaw.

Since we are here, it is almost continuous smoky and cloudy. Only briefly the sun comes through, and one can see the opposite bank with the mountains in the background. Occasionally, a few rain drops fall. However, the rain never lasts longer than ten minutes. A steadily blowing north wind holds the temperature to around 8-10 degrees celsius.

Willi, Walter and Peter go into the village to talk to the Mounties, in order to tell them we have called off our start, which was supposed to be yesterday. I worry in the meantime about organizing at the campground. We found a rusty grill, which does good service as cooking platform in the fire. I place the grill in the proximity of the fire pit. The open hut serves us as storage for kitchen instruments and even for shelter.

From hour to hour it clears up more, and we look forward already to the flight over the Mackenzie and into the mountains on the other side. The river is here about three km wide. In the river some artificial islands are situated, on which oil refineries sit.

We arrange again and again a fixed time for a telephone contact with the Werners in Yellowknife. Werner S. spent the whole night in the hospital Now they are waiting for the test results. Tomorrow they should know what they are. Perhaps the two of them can return then, and it will go smoothly from there.

In the evening we find a boat operate and negotiate for a an inspection trip for this end of the Canol Heritage Trail. It costs 25 bucks. In 13 minutes are we over there, and stay until sunset at approximately 11 o'clock pm.

Thursday, 15 July 1993

While I am still situated sleeping, Peter and Willi go telephoning. We always make our calls in the Northern tourism office, where they all are so helpful. John even offered to let us deposit our remaining luggage in his house. When Peter and Willi do not return, and we vacillate between hope and fear. Then all four of them arrive! Both of the Werners are here, and except for a slight limp Werner S. does not seem to be too bad off.

At the airport, they ordered the flight to the Godlin Lakes, which is set for about 6 pm. Michael organizes a boat which is to fetch us on July 30th at this end of the trail. Then we check in with the Mounties once more, give our remaining luggage to John for storage, and wait for the North-Wright Air vehicle which is to fetch us. Everything goes as expected and we take off right at 6 o'clock. We ride in a small twin-engine airplane, and Warren, the pilot, flies following the trail almost exactly. Thus we can see from air what awaits us on the ground. A good hour later we arrive at Godlin Lakes. There we land right on the Trail, which serves here as a runway.

We pass first the Godlin Lakes and to make our second stop. After putting up the tents - at a considerable distance from the cooking area - I begin with cooking, and Michael goes with his bow and arrow to hunt. And he returns soon with a partridge. This goes immediately into the pot, and everyone receives a plate.

The attempt to hang up the backpacks becomes a huge fiasco, because the trees are not higher than about 6-7 meters and thin like shafts of wheat. We try it nevertheless and fasten a rope to two trees about a meter underneath the top. The rope becomes strained once the backpacks are to be hung up. When we want to pull up the backpacks with a second rope, the two trees lean ever more toward each other, and the backpacks remain on the ground.

Friday, 16 July 1993

Late rising and first day organizing are the reasons why we get away only around noon. The tent packing and backpack packing lasts longer in the first few days of the trip, but it becomes faster once it's part of our routine.

For breakfast there is always the famous and popular Bannocks, the roasted Canadian wilderness bread. With a piece of this in one's stomach one can hike problem-free for three hours, without having anything else to eat.

We hiked along the Godlin River in the wooded river valley, before we break our food bags open. The daily hiking performances are not yet particularly good, but first of all we have to consider a person who was ill, and secondly we want to get accustomed rather slowly to longer hikes.

Like always we do the following, i.e.:
* when hiking , make noise to alert the bears (for example: Doc Werner has a bell)
* sleeping area 100 meters from the cooking area 100 m
* backpacks and all supplies remain in the cooking area

Our current menu consists of pea soup with polenta cheese.

Saturday, 17 July 1993

Today we got ourselves into a normal daily rhythm. Eight in the morning we get up. The kitchen boss starts the fire and sets up water to boil. Gradually the remainder of the troop from the tents creep out and gather around it. The last to sleep in the evening are also the last to get up in the morning - so it is also with the kitchen boss. I am spending three hours a day on the cooking and roasting the Bannocks.

At about 10:30 in the morning is departure, and hike on the following schedule: A full hour of walking, a ten minute break, and then again a full hour of walking and so on. After three hours we make a quick stop and drink tea and eat some snacks. Thus we create several hours pure hiking time, which corresponds to an average mileage of approximately 20 km daily in between five and seven hours.

Werner S. precedes, so that he can indicate the speed best for him. Then follows Michael, which orients himself on the basis the map. Behind Michael, Willi is generally found. Werner U. has selected himself as the bear watcher. Behind him comes Walter, who Peter and I follow. We are still in the valley of the Godlin River.

Suddenly Werner from the front calls, "A bear, a bear!" All snap to attention, and those in the back rush forwards, in order to be able to take a picture of the grizzly. Before we have it properly in the camera's field of vision, however, it shows us its hindquarters and sets off. Its smell impresses us a great deal. We can see its tracks in the soil extending over a far distance. Above all the claws leave frightening marks in the mud.

For a long time we have been conscious that we are in bear country, because occasionally we see bear scat as well as tracks of moose, which is the bear's food source. The trail seems to be a popular game trail, and we are happy there is space along it, because not occasionally a powerful bear or a bull moose would break through the bushes and we would have to scatter to clear the way.

After a not too difficult river crossing we stop and prepare camp for the night. After tomato soup and spaghetti carbonara we are full and content. We achieved a tidy mileage for the first time.

The weather is not as friendly as in the last few days, and we crouched under our rain protection.

Sunday, 18 July 1993

The day begins with a downpour. As balance the Bannocks are working very well as We are glad that we got an old rusty iron pan forward from the Cree Indian who visited us in Norman Wells. Peter scoured it, and now it does very well for us. We're also carrying a the rusty grill, which is very practical. Without it, it would be impossible to place two pots next to each other over the fire. For next time, though, we make a note: the grill should fold up.

We leave today the valley of the Godlin River after two river crossings and cross over a ridge into the valley of the Twitya River. The forest is much denser, and we see innumerable amounts of moose scat. Occasionally we have to fight through the low branches of many trees.

We camped today directly on the trail, because we could not find any open spaces off of it. At scamp the fire gives us a chance to dry off, because it has been raining all day long. It continues to rain through the night.

Monday, 19 July 1993

After a damp night, a damp morning comes. Instead of Bannocks there is today fresh omelettes for breakfast. They taste somewhat salty, unusually so for us. We can already the Twitya River, and we hope to get there soon.

When we are on its bank, we see what previously we had only imagined. It is quite comparable with the Inn River and has here a considerable current and a width of well over 20 meters. We consider the options for a short time and decide to try swimming across with rope assistance. Michael swims across first, and current pushes him far downstream. Now we know what awaits us. Gradually all of us are bound around the chest and pulled over to the other side with the rode. The same occurs with the equipment. We repack everything into the only two waterproof bags we have. Everyone gets soaked. Our confidence in God stays with us, however, and everything is on the other bank after three hours.

We remain on the bank of the Twitya and after the meal exhaustedly fall asleep.

Tuesday, 20 July 1993

The Twitya crossing still tires us, but the trail calls. We have to force ourselves to start hiking, in order to get ahead. We want to make good progress today.

It has become somewhat cool, and occasionally it rains. Tents, sleeping bags, backpacks and clothing become ever heavier. The not- quite-new shoes let water through, and some have to fight blisters. Later in the day the weather improves. We have come into a cooler area, and that has a big advantage: fewer mosquitoes.

At Trout Creek we set up camp beside a collapsed hut. With dinner there is to semolina soup and curry rice. In the hut ruin we found a Yukon furnace. We dragged it from the rubble out to the open and lit it. Finally we can dry our things.

There we suddenly noticed that from approximately 100 m distance a stately moose bull was watching us. We are inspired by his size and majesty. Michael walks up to him with the camera, in order to make a beautiful picture for Walter. That does not disturb the moose particularly, and he continues to walk only slowly.

Sometimes the blue sky shows up, and we hope for a warm day tomorrow.

Wednesday, 21 July 1993

Early in the morning, as it was warming up, we wade through Trout Creek. But if one can put on dry shoes on the other bank, that is no problem.

After a while we pass the 100 km mark. Altogether we hiked over seven hours today, and we are proud of it. We nevertheless are already somewhat behind schedule. We need to hike longer each day, to make up some kilometers.

Approximately 1400 m beyond the forest boundary we set up our tents at the top of a pass. North of us is the tundra, where there is still some snow, and below us is the wooded river valley of the Carcajou River. The landscape makes quite an impression. We will cross the Carcajou tomorrow.

At the pass we sighted our first Caribou. This less-forested area seems to suit the Caribou better than those densely-forested river valleys. Michael wanted to go after the animal with his bow and arrow, in order to procure to us a Caribou steak, but we held him back. We would have only been able to eat a minimal part of the meat.

Thursday, 22 July 1993

The strains on everyone are slowly becoming apparent. We are already a rather morose group. Walter, Willi and Peter have problems with their knees. Werner U. and I have blisters on the soles of our feet. Werner S. has some problems with his blood flow. Only Michael, the youngest of the group, has nothing wrong with him.

We cross the Carcajou and follow it up to the delta of Andy Creek. One should not think of possible problems while in the wilderness, because it can affect one's mind.

Friday, 23 July 1993

Today's hike is over a high plateau to the Little Keele River. Normally there is no water here. The area turns out to be very damp. It rains, it is very cool, and a brisk wind makes us all uncomfortable. The ascent takes us quite a while, and on the top of the hill we rest in an dilapidated hut. We cook some soup over the gas stove, which helps us all feel better. Now we have energy for the descent.

At the next rest stop we hold a conference and decide to be satisfied with what we have already achieved. We have been in the wilderness eight days and covered over 160 km. The impressions and experiences of this trip are irreplaceable. Only we have now reached our limit.

Michael prepares the red flares, and, when the next airplane comes into view, he shoots off two rockets. The pilot understood and probably transmitted that a helicopter is to come. Which is exactly what happens. After three hours the small helicopter of the RCMP with a Mountie on board lands nearby. We explain that we had to abort our trip due to a medical emergency (Peter's knee.)

It takes two trips to carry us all, but by around midnight we are again in Norman Wells. The flight is an indescribable experience. Over mountain landscapes, seeing lakes and forests below. Then we fly over the extensive valley of the Mackenzie River with the enormous river and its islands.

The nice people of the RCMP bring us to the camping area. Everyone is starving, and we do not need to conserve our supplies any more. We eat a double portion of spaghetti with spicy tomato sauce. Only at about three o'clock - the darkest time - do we fall asleep.

Saturday, 24 July 1993

At about ten o'clock in the morning we creep from our tents, and can hardly believe it: the sun radiates from the cloudless sky, and it is already too warm in the tent to sleep. This after numerous rain days in the wilderness is a great benefit! After a washing-up orgy and laying the clothes and equipment out for drying there is a freshly bought breakfast with Muesli, sausage and cheese. We can even afford to buy Canadian bread!

Around midday we fetch the luggage we deposited with John, and then Peter and I go to the North-Wright air, in order to inquire about taking us to a lake for some canoeing. We decide to go to Kelly Lake, and agree upon $1,500 Can for the flight. At 19.30 o'clock we are gathered at the Camp, and so our friend Michael leaves us, because he flies back tomorrow. The experiences on the Trail interconnected us, and it is difficult to separate. But Michael has promised to come see us in Imst, which consoles us. Michael leaves his fishing rod with us, so that we can go fishing with two poles instead of just one.

At the landing area of the North-Wright air we wait still a while, until the Twin Otter comes and accepts us with the canoe. But we are in the north, and there times of day do not play such a substantial role. And in such a way we start only at 11 o'clock in the evening. Soon we land on Kelly Lake, and on the west bank in a small bay we set up camp. There is everything there which the heart desires: clean water, a boat, a gravel beach, beautiful weather and lots of wood. Mosquitoes troubles are within limits, because mostly an easy breeze blows. Whether the fish supply is also good, we will soon know.

While I cook, Werner & Werner try their luck at the lake. They return late with empty hands.

Sunday, 25 July 1993

At 4.00 o'clock in the morning Walter and I are at the lake outside. We want to sit near to the bank with the fishing rods. But we get no bites on our lines.

In the morning there is a cool bath with complete body cleaning in the next bay, and afterwards Peter fishes from the bank. Not long afterwards we hear his call, "Fish, fish!"

Immediately I walk over and help him get the fish out of the water, because we have no net. And because the fish is rather strong, Peter is fearful of breaking the thin line. There is no option but to go in the water and try to throw the fish onto the bank. After three tries we are successful and Peter passes the rod on. By the evening we have caught seven fish, and our stomachs are filled. Helping out to get the fish on the bank means that one hardly remains dry. Werner U. and Walter used the opportunity to take a bath at the same time. The largest fish caught that day, it is unanimously decided, was caught by me.

The filets of three fish are put into the fish pot, which enjoys a legendary history going back to out journey to Norway. We roast a fish in foil, packed as Peter shows us. There is a true saying: trout taste excellent! At the night a heavy rain comes down, and the storm soaks our tents through. But the items packed in waterproof bags remain dry. Except for Werner U.'s socks. But those are easily washed and dried in the morning.

Monday, 26 July 1993

Today we let the day pass calmly and slowly. The thunderstorm cleared the sky, and we had breakfast in the sunshine. Afterwards everyone attends to an occupation. Bathing, personal hygiene, fishing, or boating. There's not much else to be done. But what one can do, it's very pleasurable.

In the afternoon Willi and Peter decide to hike to the nearest lodge. In the meantime, I make some Bannock bread. Today is a good day to make it, because I can bake it in the sun. Before the baking I add some almond fragments. That should make it quite good.

Peter and Willi did not make it to the lodge, but saw it somewhat south of us. Peter also discovered a berry field. Only he did not bring along anything to gather them in. He promises us a sample for tomorrow.

The evening menu for today consists of trout in foil and paprika rice. Subsequently, there is like each day a small quantity of tea, with whiskey (Gibson's Finest) added. On the trail a small shot was added into the tea but it was then in short supply, so we had to get accustomed on not refined tea. The tea consumer I am, I must rise each night, over and over, to "check the weather."

It begins to rain, and all six of us gather under the upside-down canoe, which we jacked up with some branches. In this situation we enjoy with good humor still a few drops of the whiskey, and only slowly get ready for sleeping.

Tuesday, 27 July 1993

At two o'clock there is a wonderful red morning. No more sign of rain. When having breakfast it is already pleasantly warm.

Peter and Werner S. paddle to the Lodge, where they are loaded on a coffee. Willi and Doc Werner try their hand at fishing. And actually both they and Peter have caught something. Now all of us have had fishermen's luck. We caught eleven trout.

Of course we eat fish for dinner again. This time in a soup and the filets peppered and pan roasted. Then we sit still for a long time at the fire, drink tea, eat onion rings and fire-roasted potatoes. Now the time has come, in which the reserves lost on the Trail are again filled up. Everyone is hungry and good appetite. Peter gets a cup of the promised berries, and all of us try the fruits of the Canadian wilderness. In evening we observe the ducks flying together and then we go to sleep.

Wednesday, 28 July 1993

After an extensive Bannock breakfast we wait for the Twin Otter, which is to take us back to Norman Wells today. The plane comes earlier than expected, so we rush to get our things together. The pilots have time and tell us not to hurry. The fire is very conscientiously put out, then we gather everything and set ourselves into the machine. The start becomes difficult, because wind arose, and taking off on water is a bit difficult. But the pilot is a professional and masters the problem easily.

In Norman Wells we have some business to take care of. The return flights must be confirmed, which requires some telephone calls from the tourism office. The RCMP must be paid for fetching from the trail with their helicopter.

Our camp on the bank of the Mackenzie River is very windy today. One sees the Mackenzie flowing along with clouds of sand, and also the air on the bank is somewhat sandy. We buy ourselves some fruit, vegetable and other delicacies. All of this goes into our spaghetti - this time with the first meat for many days - before we end the evening.

Thursday, 29 July 1993

We had hoped to fly today to Edmonton but it is not possible unfortunately. All planes are full. Thus 31 July remains as our departure date. So we still have two days in Norman Wells. Tomorrow the large Black Bear Jamboree is to take place, a large celebration with music and numerous attractions. People are everywhere because of the celebration.

We thank our Canadian friends with a bottle of wine. There is unfortunately no Austrian wine in the liquor store, so therefore we take a German. We can't find the Mounties, however, and so a bottle remains with us as a sample.

With dinner Werner S. drinks a small bottle Gibson's Finest branch as thanks for - for us natural - the comradeship, and promotes the good feelings. The driver of North-Wright air brings us, as promised, the old license plates of the NWT. These have the form of polar bears and are beautiful. We see, in this area can really rely one on everyone completely. That is what distinguishes the Canadian north.

Friday, 30 July 1993

Today is a big cleaning day. Everyone washes and scrubs themselves. Hair will become combed, beards trimmed or shaved, shirts and trousers washed.

I go to the tourism office again, because the return flight with KLM is still somewhat unclear. The friendly lady in the office helps me, and after some time is everything O.K. We then returned to our camp.

In the evening is the huge Black Bear Jamboree. Unfortunately it rains, and we all go to a restaurant. We meet many nice people here, also our friend John, his wife, and another lady from the Northern tourist office. For us it becomes a parting celebration, and our last dollars are spent at the restaurant.

Saturday, 31 July 1993

The night is disturbed continuous by drunken Indians. They come around our campsite, make fires and drink. As agreed, we are fetched from the brother of the North-Wright driver at 10:00 o'clock. The man from Canadian Airlines said we should try to come early so that they can check us and our luggage in properly.

At the airport, we check in and then walk around the area until the afternoon. At 15.00 o'clock we board, and fly to Edmonton via Yellowknife, arriving that evening.

We spend a long time in Edmonton trying to find a hotel which has still free rooms, because there is something going on. With the assistance of a travel agent we finally succeed, and we sleep at a hotel in the center of Edmonton. We eat Chinese food for dinner, and after a walk along the main street, we look forward to the first real bed for three weeks.

Sunday, 1 August 1993

Departure is in the afternoon, so we spend the morning at the largest shopping center in Canada. At 13.30 o'clock we are be brought to the airfield.

Monday, 2 August 1993

The takeoff from Edmonton was delayed around one hour, but with full power the pilot made up the lost time, and we land punctually in Amsterdam.

Here we again have some hours' stay, and we go into the city. The European beer tastes different than the Canadian, we determine.

In the evening the Tyrolean Airlines flight goes to Innsbruck, and we see for the first time Tiroler faces again, hear Tiroler dialect and eat Tiroler bacon with Tiroler bread.

In Innsbruck we are met by our families, which are frightened by our tired and disheveled appearance. But they soon get accustomed to it.

EPILOGUE

When we decided to this journey, we each had rather different conceptions of how it would turn out. Some of these conceptions were probably far removed from the reality of what took place. The romance of the wilderness, which one thinks about at home within a protected living area, comes to life the Canadian North a constant struggle with the life conditions, which nature forces upon to us.

To some things one gets accustomed to very fast. Thus the cool climate never bothered us much. Because on the one hand we were had appropriate equipment for it, and on the other hand it immediately became pleasantly warm if the sun shone. But there conditions there are far from ideal. When the sun shines it is pleasantly warm, but the mosquitoes eat you up. If it is warm and windy, then you have peace before the mosquitoes. But if the wind is cold and drives you to wind-protected campsites or other areas, and there the mosquitoes wait. If it rains, you become wet, but the mosquitoes are not present.

To add to these natural inconveniences there is also the remoteness of the trail. You cannot just drop out and stay in a clean and warm hut overnight. Several times we dried our wet things at the fire, and those who were not well-equipped with rain protection, that simply made their things less damp.

We learned a lot about our equipment. The basic thing is that everything must be of good quality - shoes, backpack, tent- the waterproof bags for sleeping bag, food and clothes worked very well. For cooking a collapsible grill would be an advantage, as would waterproof covers for the backpacks.

Which brings up nutrition, on which count we did rather well. Not without difficulty, but we did not bring too much, just simple and as versatile as possible. We did not factor in hunting or fishing. There is either no time for it because it takes so much time to do, or one is behind schedule and must make up the miles. The food was not too sumptuous, which we determined easily by the weight acceptance of each person.

Life in a foreign country, in addition to being in the wilderness, promoted co-operation in the group. Everyone is dependent on everyone. Matters of minor importance and little things become ever more insignificant, and the large target becomes ever more important. This community spirit was there from the start, and made us stable as a group. No angry words were spoken, and those who were upset kept it to themselves. An example came on the second day, when Werner S. got sick. Of course we did everything we could in order to deal with it in the best way, and just as naturally the start time of the hike was shifted to another day.

All in all: We will reflect back on this journey for a long time to remember all of our individual experiences. Had we not dared to undertake this enterprise, would be spiritually poorer for having missed many beautiful memories and many experiences.