Saturday, December 28, 2013

Advanced Geocache with Nico

Probably last Geocache for this year, done with Nico in the not so wintry area.
Set of at about 9 o'clock in the morning and picked Nico up on the way to Wiggensbach. Took a while to get there, so we ended up starting the cache around ten. Finding the first clue was a challenge in itself, for which we spent nearly three quarters of an hour until Nico found it. In that time the sun had moved so we where standing in the warm rays. Carried on to the next clue which was only about 300 metres away, and that is where we got completely screwed. Searched high and low, far and near, but could not find the third stage, as the clue we found was near to in-understandable (I can only say “cables”). After using the near non existent mobile phone network to get the e-mail of the owner and writing a question to him, we decided to wait for an hour in the McDonalds in Kempten. Whilst driving there we got our answer (after only 10 minutes) so we turned round and Nico found it in the end. The rest where not as difficult as that one and in the end we found the very intuitive “treasure”. In totally we had used about 10% owner help, 30% internet help (Nicos phone battery nearly ran out in the end) and 60% our own brains.
Took us a bit over 4 hours to complete the geocache, but a lot of fun and a rewarding McDonalds in the end.
Geocache can be found here and some pictures here.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Egypt Day 14: Catching Flying Fish

Woke up after Jon today and had breakfast with him, Johanna having a rest as she was up rather late and I am the only one diving today. After waiting long enough for three other guys to turn up (they didn't in the end) we where five people going out to Gordon Reef in the Zodiac. The wind had not got less throughout the night, so there where even bigger waves today. Some of the yetis nearer to the open water had been closed. Going across the short stretch of open water to the reefs, our boat once again frightened a large amount of flying fish. The water in front of us was suddenly full of them and one of them miscalculated his flight path as we soon had another passenger on the boat. The fish had landed strait in our Zodiac and it took a few minutes and calmer sea to set it free again. We went down in not to deep water and proceeded along the sandy banks of the Gordon Reef. Spotted a large amount of sand eels standing in the distance. We didn't get closer, as they don't like divers and disappear down their holes if we get to close. Spotted a clown fish, and a Lion Fish sleeping in the rocky corals. Also a large amount of blue spotted stingrays digging in the sand. Visibility was not to good and I had my eyes out in the ocean, as I was really hoping for a hammerhead shark but not so much luck considering them for me this holiday. Resurfaced after a rather uneventful dive and went back with the large waves for some lunch and a rest in the afternoon. 
More pictures at Picasa and a detailed map of the outer reefs here, with a general map of the reefs here.

Diving depth: 19,6 metres
Diving time: 53 minutes
Speciality: Flying fish in the boat (dinner is served)

Friday, November 29, 2013

Egypt Day 13: Jackson Reef, Baron Reef & Nightdiving

Woke up as usual and had breakfast, before deciding where we wanted to go diving today. Ali was our dive guide in the morning and the plan for the morning dive was a drift dive from Jackson Inside to Jackson Outside. Getting there in the Zodiac was a challenge in itself, as the sea had been ruffed up from some strong waves coming in from the open water. On our way we spotted the usual flying fish, skimming across the waves away from our boat. The boat was near to airborne a few times, before we reached our diving location and geared up to get in to the water with waves rocking the boat around. The water felt rather warm when we went in and there was a large array of different fish, all taking refuge in the reef from the strong currents and waves out in the ocean. Ali spotted one stone fish and a few metres next to that Johanna found another one buried in the sand (Merkel Fish). Also saw a Clown Fish, which are rather common in this sea. Throughout a lot of the dive we where surrounded by a large amount of fish, probably the most fish I have seen per square metre up to date. Schools of Trumpet, Trigger and the usual small orange fish all around us. Johanna at one point was just floating in an orange fish mass. The currents pulled us along the reefs and the further out we got the less fish there where. Still saw rather a lot, Jon and me seeing some spotted fish having a territorial dispute with a Lion Fish. Somewhere in that period I managed to have my deepest dive yet, down to 30,4 metres. Only 0,2 metres more than last time, but still. Ali spotted a large, camouflaged grouper fish deeper down, it was about the size of a Napoleon fish. We where the swept across the coral by a stronger current still and Jon (my buddy) was swept away from the group towards the open ocean at one point. He got rather worried, as being out in the sea on your own, 20 metres under water is not a situation you want to find yourself in. Ali went out and picked him up, so we proceeded along the reef. We ran out of air rather fast, as we had to swim against the current in the end a bit, and resurfaced out in the ocean (away from the corals, so the boat can get us) after about 50 minutes. I thought it was fun going up and down large waves, sometimes going under them, all with the knowledge that you cant get pressed down for to long and that you always have air. Getting in to the boat was rather stressful, as the captain did not want to get stranded on the reef. Went back, jumping the waves, and after cleaning our stuff and writing our log books, of for some lunch.
After lunch we went to Baron reef, a more sheltered and closer reef than Jackson. Jumped over board and went down. The dive in itself was not as action packed as one in the morning. I was Svens buddy and our dive guide for that afternoon was Salah. The water was rather murky, probably from all the waves hitting the reefs. We saw a Lion Fish, a Trumpet Fish, a rather large Yellow Spotted Puffer Fish and rather a lot of Blue Spotted Stingrays. They like the sandy areas. Also saw a crocodile fish hiding in the sand and a large Trigger Fish. Resurfaced and got back in to the Zodiac. One of the first times I have also felt cold in the boat with 22°C air temperature. Probably be a shock getting back to Germany which currently has about 0°C. Sat down to write our log books, before waiting for the night dive.
Before dinner we then had our night dive with Ali. Went down at the back of the group with Sven and no Jon with us this time. He had enough jellys last week. I only saw tow colourful ones this time, the rest where somewhere else. Saw an inactive Lion Fish, some sleeping Clown Fish and a type of squid (I think it was). Our other diver with us had a few problems with the buoyancy and at one point shot up to the surface after scarring away said squid by nearly falling on top of it. Also saw a well camouflaged scorpion fish between the rocks. On our way back we switched our lights of like last week, this time we where still swimming. Every stroke of or flippers caused the plankton behind us to illuminate in the dark. Even better than last week and that is what I like about the night dives the most. Proceeded back and had some dinner after cleaning our stuff.
More pictures at Picasa and a detailed map of the outer reefs here, with a general map of the reefs here.

Diving depth: 30,4 metres
Diving time: 150 minutes
Speciality: Light show at night, every movement causing the water around us to glow

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Egypt Day 12: Hammerhead Hunting

Shark searching was the plan for today. So after breakfast we where of to Jackson Reef (outside), the place in the area to find schools of Hammerhead sharks. Ali (dive guide) warned us that if there where no big fish to look at the reef on that side is rather boring, as there are near to no corals to look at. Spotted the usual flying fish on the way, they seem to be afraid of the Zodiac.
Jumped in when we reached Jackson Reef and had near to no current, apparently rather unusual for that spot. Descended down to about 25 metres and looked around the area if anything was there. The only thing we spotted was the other divers and a shipwreck on the coral sloop. Searched for half and hour but nothing except us was swimming out there. Ali said he saw something at the edge of visibility, but it was to deep to go after. Some people reached the limit of how long they could stay down, so in the end we had to do some decompression stops to get rid of some possible nitrogen in our blood. Was still a fun dive as we where surrounded by just a blue and the other divers.
Went back and had a massage before lunch. After that it was of to Jackson Reef for some more shark hunting. They seem to like that are as well. Whilst we went down, Jon noticed a problem on Johannas bottle. It was loosing air through some point in the valve of the bottle so she unfortunately had to resurface. She got to see some dolphins instead and probably got a bit more sun in the boat.
In the mean time we had the pleasure of meeting two sea turtles, one sticking around for quite some time. It probably enjoyed Svens attention with the camera as it swam with us. The second one tried to hide in a crack. Also saw two Clown Fish families and some sleeping fire fish before resurfacing.
Drove back and cleaned our stuff before sitting down, having some tea and writing our log book. Mine has run out of pages already, so I have had to buy another one.
More pictures at Picasa and a map of the Jackson and Woodhouse Reef here.The morning dive was above the Lara wreck.

Diving depth: 30,2 metres
Diving time: 113 min.
Speciality: Unfortunately no sharks, but two sea turtles and a dive in the ocean

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Egypt Day 11: Quad Fail

No diving today. After one and a half weeks of diving Johanna and I had a rest today. Jon went out with both the morning and afternoon divers. The one in the morning got caught in a washing machine and the whole group was sent out in to the open sea. They arrived back unharmed and the afternoon group saw a eagle ray and Jon went swim-boating with some dolphins.
Whilst he was out enjoying that Johanna, Sven and me went in to the mountains with quads. The second half of the tour was rather fun, but the first half was a disaster. The guide was pissed of about something and got in to an argument with Johanna. After that he was better and allowed us to overtake instead of driving single line. We where out until the sun went down and had some tea in a Bedouin camp. Watched some cats do some caterwauling in said Bedouin camp and then carried on. I did some overtaking on the way back and as a reward I got a speed restrain put in. It was knocked out after a while again so it wasn't that much use. Returned and spent an hour back to the hotel and then had some dinner before Jon Skyped home and I wrote the blog.
Pictures of the holiday at Picasa.

Diving Depth: ---
Diving Time: ---
Speciality: Quad in the desert

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Egypt Day 10: Ras Mohammed National Park & Ras Katy

Woke up from my alarm today morning, as we are going diving to the National Park Ras Mohammed. Early, because we have to take a boat there from Sharm el Sheikh harbour. First thing Jon asked me is if I was all right. I had talked some kind of stuff in the night with a half awake mind. Went and had some breakfast before packing all our stuff and then setting out in a bus to the harbour. Picked up two more English people on the way and had our bags checked before we where on the boat and set of towards Ras Mohammed. Got our gear ready and then went on to the first dive at Jackfish Alley. My dive buddy today was Sven and as I had a video camera from him, we seemed to be the filming crew. Went through a cave at first and had some super light falling in at one end of which Sven got a brilliant picture. Carried on along the reef and dived over and past coral structures. Did not see that much apart from a murrain eel and a masked puffer fish, except the usual big amount of fish. Resurfaced to get back on the boat and one of our dive colleges lost her flipper going up. Ali (dive guide) had to go back down to retrieve the flipper.
Had about one and a half hours of rest, to get our dive time for the second dive back up. Had a rest and the jumped in to the blue ocean, alongside a vertical cliff called shark reef. Planned for the second dive was Shark Reef and then Jolanda Reef. A few minutes after diving in some people thought they saw a shark (turned out to be a tuna) and dived after it. Limit of the dive was about 20 metres of depth. The end result was about 28 metres. Proceeded on after that one incident and one of our divers had a near panic attack, because the vertical drop wasn’t that welcome (dark underneath us). My glasses started getting fogged up and it didn't matter how many times I cleaned them with salt water, they where back to foggy after a few seconds. I got so annoyed about it that I took them of and tried to clean them 20 metres under water. Stupid me, I got a small panic attack, not seeing that well underwater and not knowing anybody was there to help if something went wrong. Jon was there rather fast to pull me down as I started floating up and said later that I didn't look that panicky. Carried on and Johanna had to tell of another diver underwater, because he cept hitting to corals. In the end Ali took away his camera, so he could concentrate on getting the buoyancy right. Saw two crocodile fish and a murrain eel, glasses kept fogging up in that time. Jon and Johanna sat on a toilet, which the “Jolanda”, a shipwreck in the are, was transporting somewhere. Also saw a Scorpion Fish hiding near the centre of the wreck and then swam back up as we would have otherwise had to make a decompression stop. Just on the surface we the spied a sea turtle and as luck wanted it, it swam strait through us, about half a metre away from our faces. Resurfaced and went back to the boat for some lunch while we proceeded to some reef near Sharm el Sheikh, not in the National Park.

On the last dive we jumped in to a school of trigger fish, one of Johannas favourite fish. Dived down to the bottom of Ras Katy and continued along the sandy bottom, getting stung up by jellyfish. The locals confirmed it is the right season for them right now. Had a play with some Clown Fish and stopped when I got nipped by one. Continued along and saw some very inquisitive and large Lion Fish swimming around. Ali spotted a Scorpion Fish hiding in the sand and a few refuge shrimps in a small cave in a coral block. Saw a boat with glass windows in the bottom drive right over a coral and nearly hit it (insensitive...). Continued along and dived through a small canyon underwater, navigating a tight space between the corals. Then it was back up to the surface and getting back on board. We where rather near to the harbour, so it didn't take to long to get back. Then a drive back to the hotel, copying the pictures from Sven and some dinner before going to the bar.
More pictures at Picasa and a map of the National Park Reef (Shark & Jolanda Reef) here and a main map here.

Diving time: 164 min.
Diving depth: 27,5 metres
Speciality: National Park dive

Monday, November 25, 2013

Egypt Day 9: Gordon Reef & Kormoran "Fail"

Woke up a bit later today and just managed to have some breakfast before I went diving with Sven on my own, Jon and Johanna preferring to have a rest today morning. I had a bit of stomach cramps, but I didn't want to abandon Sven. Who knows, we might see a shark. Went diving at Gordon Reef in a rather full Zodiac, so it took a while for us to jump in. When we jumped in there where dozens of divers down there already, so we weren't expecting anything unusual. Ali (dive guide) pointed out a blue spotted stingray near to the beginning and Sven and me spotted a scorpion fish doing a mad dash for some cover. He took a while walking along the bottom of the sandy reef. Dived on and lagged behind the group a bit, so I motioned to Sven to catch up a bit. Spotted a clown fish on the way and when we caught up Ali was pointing out a murrain eel, which had been hiding in a barrel. There was a couple there and the man was trying to take photographs, but kept crashing in to the reef and lying on it. Not something you normally do. We nearly reached the decompression time limit in the end and had to resurface. In the last moment Ali motioned with his hand that a shark was up ahead and just like by the eagle ray, in the first moment I just saw a tail fin. Luckily it turned round and a few moments later we had a white tipped reef shark swim about ten metres under us. Resurfaced and got back in to the Zodiac and went back to have some lunch.
In the afternoon it was Jon, Johanna, Sven, Ali, Yvonne (another German) and me going diving at the Kormoran ship wreck. On the way we saw two dolphins swimming the way to where we where going diving, so we followed them a while. We jumped in to not so deep water (only about five metres) and where greeted by some mackerel fish which swam up really close. Got a picture as I had my Nikon with me on this dive.
Also saw a swarm of small, sometimes glittery fish which Johanna herded right in to my face. Ali disappeared at one point, back to the surface to talk with the captain. It turned out we had missed the wreck by a few hundred metres. Sea was still interesting with steps of hard corals and a few fish. Nearly bumped in to a scorpion fish and I could really see a pressure point evolving on the centre of my display of the camera. Turned round halfway through and Johanna had to race forwards to get Jon as he had run of. She said when she reached him and told him to turn round, they could not see the rest of the group (us) any more. They came back and we enjoyed a nice dive in the most colourful depth of the corals (about 5 metres). Sven and me took a picture of two very active and inquisitive Lion Fish. Whilst we where concentrating on one the other one sneaked up to us from the right and got within under a metre. They where pointing there stings at us the whole time and I don't know how poisonous they are (I know they are not to be messed with). Carried on and Jon tried to pull Johanna down when she had surfaced. Back to the main land for a shower and to write our log books.
More pictures at Picasa and a link to the reef map here 

Diving time: 111 min.
Diving depth: 23,0 meters
Speciality: Shark in the morning and missed a wreck in the afternoon

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Egypt Day 8: Ras Nasrani & Ras Ghamila

I woke up before the other two today, so I got up quietly (so I thought) and did not wake up Jon. Went to breakfast and then on the way out to the diving base, met Johanna on her way to breakfast.
Morning dive was at Ras Nasrani, as Sven has joined us for the now following week (a small check dive, but he did not need it) and Johanna and Jon had not dived there yet. Spotted the usual amount of fish and my air consumption has got a lot better. I can dive with a 12 litre bottle instead of a 15 litre one now. Also my buoyancy is now more in control, so I seem to slowly get the hang of it. The special fish today where some milk fish that Hussein spotted and a small pyjama snail which Sven photographed. I don't know if there are more jellyfish now or if we now only can see them because we know they are there. Was stung again on the cheek and on the hands as well. Nothing serious, just annoyingly painful ones.
Went to lunch after the dive and I got the belly problems now as well. Wasn't sure if I should go in the afternoon but I tagged along in the end as we where going diving to one of my favourite reef till now, Ras Ghamila. I like it because there are a lot of corals you can dive above and around. Big tree like ones like the Gorgonian corals are scattered a lot there. Dived through there and spotted a yellow spotted puff fish and a murrain eel next to all the other usual ones. Johanna and Jon found a few Lion Fish which eluded me and Jon pushed me along by the feet a bit. Johannas goggles where fogging up again, which was annoying her a lot. It is annoying when you can not see anything or only with one eye (2D). Surfaced and went back to base to clean our things of salt water, before burning out Johannas goggles.
Back to the accommodations before lunch and we have a film evening planned for later. 
More pictures at Picasa and a map of the Sinai reefs here.

Diving time: 123 min.
Diving depth: 19.2 meters
Speciality: Murrain eel hiding under a coral

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Egypt Day 7: Baron Reef & Nightdiving

The visit to the “Old Market” was interesting yesterday evening. I don't like to haggle when I have not got a reverence of the current price of the article. Johanna and Jon enjoyed it, haggling for clothes and spices. A lot of the locals where interested in Jons VERB (a GoPro equivalent camera from Garmin) and some filmed their shops with it. Also saw a lot of stray cats. dogs (with pups) and rubbish in the area.
After getting back we all had a restful sleep for the dive the next day. Johannas alarm went of at 7.40 am, so we went and had some breakfast.
After we had breakfast we went and prepared our diving gear. Johanna decided against going with us in the end as she has got some kind of illness which has had her having stomach cramps. Not very fun when you are stuck 20 metres underwater. In the end it was Jon, Brigitte (another person from Germany), Salah (dive guide) and me. When we dropped of the Zodiac at Baron Reef Brigitte lost her weights and shot back up to the surface. Salah picked them up a bit deeper down and gave them back so we continued on. Saw a few of the usual thing, lots of fish (of which I don't know all the types), a clown fish, my first scorpion fish, a giant puffer fish, a murrain eel, a blue spotted sting ray and a small jellyfish. About half way through the dive Salah spotted some type of ray and we later had a look through some books, but we couldn't identify it in the end. It was buried rather well in the sand and had a kind of tail we didn't recognise. After the dive we had some lunch and then did nothing except sleep and sun bathe the whole afternoon as we where night diving in the evening.
Started getting dressed when the sun was going down and jumped in to the water with torches on. Jon went in first and was greeted by the waiting tentacles of jellyfish. They seem to prefer the nights to be active. Went down with Santo, Jon and Johanna and spotted some ocean dwellers which are not seen daytimes. Some small sea stars and a lot more fish. All the while the jellyfish where around us. Jon got stung up rather bad in his short neoprene suit, while Johanna was stung on the neck once and me on the cheek. Turned round and swam back with the current before reaching a platform at five metres and settling down. My gravitational centre was a bit to far to the front so I kept tipping over forwards. We switched of all our light for a short while and when you stirred through the water the small plankton lit up in a green light. If you have ever seen the film “Avatar” from James Cameron with the small, glow lights floating around, that is what it felt like. A super dive, which I will be doing again I hope.
After dinner (with some very nice white chocolate as desert) we went to Soho Square. I cant fathom why they would name something as posh as that shopping square after the London Drug centre. Was a nice evening after bartering with the hotel about the Taxi price, we ended up paying a third of the original. Saw a fountain show and had a stroll around the shops before getting back and to bed.
More pictures at Picasa and a link to the reef map here. I could not find a more detailed one, we are currently diving between Tiran Island and the main land.

Diving time: 112 min.
Diving depth: 18,8 meters
Speciality: Glowing lights in the dark

Friday, November 22, 2013

Egypt Day 6: Thomas & Woodhouse Reef (inside)

The plan for today was to do the early morning dive. The reason behind getting up at 5.30 am being, that apparently sharks and co. tend to be more active. Got geared up before having anything to eat and set of towards the Thomas Reef in the Zodiac. Salah was our dive guide today and I was buddying up with Johanna.
Dropped out of the boat after Salah looked at the current. Our plan had a minor set back, as we had to take a different direction as planned. Went down rather fast and the first few minutes where spent with getting the right buoyancy. I dived down a bit deeper down than I should but got back up to cruising level after a short notice. Near to the beginning we also saw a few open water fish like mackerel and tuna swimming in the ocean and when we continued along the reef a few lion fish, clown fish and masked puffer fish. Salah pointed out a turtle about ten metres above us, but she did not want to come down and hid between the corals instead. Whilst watching Salah gave a shout and I just spotted a white wing take a downwards stroke before the owner of it disappeared. Turned out later that it was a eagle ray. Salah and Johanna saw it, I saw the wing and Jon didn't see it apparently. Surfaced a while after that encounter, but just as we where about to breach the surface Johanna pointed to a murrain eel which we then observed for a few more minutes.
Back to the hotel for some lunch, watching families pile loads of food (which they don't all necessarily eat) to leave it unattended to get some more. The birds liked it and a whole flock of sparrows descended down to take the bread. Also saw two rather large birds of prey being harassed by some crows.
After lunch we then went to Woodhouse Reef (inside). The sea had some big waves but was not choppy at all, weird conditions which they don't have that often. Also no currents this afternoon, in the morning we had strong currents pushing us everywhere. Went down to 18 metres and continued along the reef with a canyon worming underneath us. The most interesting thing on that dive was a balloon we had taken down with us to see the water pressure taking effect on an enclosed air condition. Underwater I could fit both my hands around it, above not. Surfaced after a few minor encounters with colourful corals and a few fish. Nothing new on this dive.
Went back and had some dinner before going to the old market.
More pictures at Picasa and a map of the reef here.

Diving time: 124 min.
Deepest depth: 24,8 metres
Special: Half an eagle ray in the morning, sea turtle and murrain ell

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Egypt Day 5: Jackson & Gordon Reef

Before breakfast Johanna went for a jog and after that we all enjoyed a quick swim in the pool in front of our window.
First dive after breakfast we went to the Jackson Reef with Ali, Armin and Brigitte. The dive site was surrounded by safari boats on a day trip, but we managed to get in without problems. All the 15 litre bottles of the dive base are currently being used by a large group that has gone to Dahab to dive, so I had to make do with a 12 litre bottle. We dived down to a sandy bank at about 5 metres depth and Johanna pursued a trumpet fish into our general direction, so we had a close up view of the “stick fish”. Later I saw a whole swarm of them. A few minutes later Ali (our dive guide) coaxed a stone fish out of its hiding place and we had a close up view of a huge, violet living stone (which by chance happens to also be one of the most poisonous fish in the ocean). Saw a family of clown fish, where there is one there tends to be more. Also a giant puffer fish and a few blue spotted stingrays. I found out today in a book that they are actually sting rays, so they do have a barb at the end with which they can defend themselves. Ali pointed out a few pyjama snail and we saw two fire fish, one feathered and one pointy one, before we resurfaced and got on to the Zodiac. On our way back we saw to dive signal with no boat in the area, so we turned round and asked if everything was okay. The said they are waiting for their boat, so everything was fine.
After getting back we enjoyed lunch with a flock of sparrows waiting for food hungrily. One woman filled up her table and left to get some more and whilst she was gone a whole band of them started to take her food away. They are probably the ones that fly south from the European countries.
After lunch it was of to the Gordon Reef, this time again with a 15 litre bottle and a not so choppy sea. More people this time so the Zodiac was rather full. We dived with Ali again and the German couple had their camera with them, so we where well prepared. Went down a to another sand bank and then dived through coral spires along the way. I have got better control offer the boujonce now so it was fun to dive through the spires. Saw lots of blue spotted sting rays and different colour trigger fishes. More trumpet fish and a few lion fish which where a lot more active now. Also something that looked like a stone fish, but it didn't look that round. When we dived along a cliff side a swarm of bat fish raced past us, normally they don't often come near to the coral gardens. They are rather large fish and shined in an interesting colour. A few moments later Ali spotted a Spanish Dancer which is normally a nocturnal sea creature. Wont say that it is a fish as it looks more like a magic carpet. After a photo session we continued on and Jon and me had to fight against a strong current near the end, so we weren't taken out into the blue. Before resurfacing we saw a few more fish and then swam out in to the open ocean to get away from the corals, so we could be picked up from our boat. Drove back to the base and had some coffee whilst writing the log book before going back to our accommodation to write this blog (our wet patch in the toilet still has not been fixed).
More pictures at Picasa and a map of the reef here.

Diving time: 124 min.
Diving depth: 22.7 meters
Speciality: Stone fish, Spanish Dancer and a swim in the blue

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Egypt Day 4: Ras Nasrani & Ras Ghamila

Jon and Johanna abandoned me today. They left at 5.30 am to visit the wreck of the “SS Thistlegorm” on the other side of the point of the Sinai Peninsula. I was left here to enjoy the sunset (which arrived 45 minutes later) with some other Russian photographers. Waited that long and then got some pictures of the rising sun and a bird in said sunlight.
After breakfast I then went diving with Hussein and Sergej (a Russian looking person who could only speak French). Diving at the house reef again, so no Zodiac in the morning. Went down to the platform at five meters depth and whilst Sergej did his check up I had a look at a canyon/cave. Then it was along Ras Nasrani looking out for some fish. A big Napoleon Fish swam above us near to the beginning, so all the snorkellers in that area had a highlight point. Carried on until we reached a sand bank and turned around at that point. I thought that the water looked like it was boiling underneath us, but it turned out to be a current of cold water. Noticed that by swimming right in to it. Back to the yeti from that point onwards, fighting against the current a bit. Sergej ran out of air on the way and it took some time to explain to him that he was supposed to breath and hold on to Hussein, not turn of his air. Proceeded along the reef and spotted something which I thought resembled squid. It then moved the wrong way, so I later found out it was a trumpet fish. That creature has the proportions of a stick, or like a flute (after which it is named in German). When we reached the yeti Hussein dropped Sergej off, as I still had 120 bar left in my tank. While he was doing this I watched a Clown fish bravely protect his home (from me) and later Hussein showed me a Lion Fish hiding under the yeti. Carried on along Ras Bob a bit, but then turned round and went back for some lunch after talking to Armin and Brigitte (two Germans which go diving regular).
After lunch I then went diving with Hussein, Armin and Brigitte at Ras Ghamila. Drove to the dive site in full gear and dropped of the side of the Zodiac soon afterwards. Whilst falling backwards I realised I forgot to inflate my jacket, so that was the first thing I did when I had a hand free. Went down after we had checked everyone was okay and swam against a current trying to drive us out to sea (that was along the whole journey, so we had to use a lot of flipper power). Rather soon Armin (I think) spotted a yellow, spotted burr fish (in German its is called a hedgehog fish). Dodging Gorgonia corals we also saw a crocodile fish and some pyjama snails. Armin and Brigitte also saw a few blue spotted rays, but I unfortunately missed those. A while later I heard loud clanking coming from a persons “attention” stick and Hussein pointed out a massive Napoleon fish swimming between the corals. He came really close to us and then carried on. Spotted to smaller ones afterwards, probably a family. Swimming along over and between corals I spotted some more Clown Fish in the home and a short while later Brigitte found a giant puffer fish resting near the bottom. Was alone for about 30 seconds as the other three dived left around a rocky outcrop and I went right. As a last highlight I then saw another trumpet fish (those things should be called “see through sea sticks”) before we proceeded to the surface and went back home.
At dinner and before Jon, Johanna and I talked about how our days had transpired. I asked a lot about how the the Thistlegorm is.
More pictures at Picasa and a reef map here.

Diving time: 123 min.
Diving depth: 19.9 meters
Speciality: Strong currents, big Napoleon Fish and Trumpet Fish

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Egypt Day 3: Jackson & Gordon Reef

Jon was the first up today again. He went for a jog and met a Russian from Kiew. He also filmed the jog and under the yeti with his Garmin camera.
When we where all ready we went to breakfast and after that to the first dive of the day. First one was at the Jackson Reef, the diving site was overcrowded a bit as there where many safari boats there. Jumping in I lost Ulis snorkel, another artefact lying at the bottom of the ocean. When we went down, there where already dozens of people diving along. Joined up and proceeded along the reef. Johanna saw a grouper fish, a rather large fish which looks similar to a Napoleon fish. In total we also saw three lion fish, all seemingly inactive, just sitting around on the corals. Also saw some small sea slugs, rather colourful fellows. Hiding behind/underneath a rock was a blue spotted ray and the highlight of the dive was a massive murrain eel, of which I only saw the tail. Hidden between some rocks where rather big sea urchin. Dropped of a bit at one point to see a big soft coral, but Hussein (our dive guide) reminded me to come back up as it was our safety stop. Had no problem with air today, as I had a 15 litre bottle on my back, is heavier thought. After getting back (jumping the waves with the Zodiac) and cleaning our gear, Mohammed tried to fix/clean the electric components of the GoPro, the results being that it can now film whilst being plugged in to an electric socket (which completely fails the point of the camera, but you could use it as a web cam). Whilst we where doing that, Johanna and Jon ran of to lunch and I had some later before going out to the Gordon Reef with Salah. Jumped down into a rather shallow sandy bank, once again a lot of people being around us on safari boats. Dived along the sand bank and spotted a crocodile fish lying in the sand. He swam away when the current of one of our flippers hit him and Uls (a fellow diver, sounds like he is from Switzerland) hunted him with his camera. Saw even more blue spotted rays in the sandy area. Reached some barrels from a Russian ship which had run on to the corals in 1981. After that it was flying along with the current across the corals. Bonked Johanna in the head with my flippers at one point and didn't understand most of what she was trying to say under water. Jon shot up like a rocket at one point whilst simulating a motorbike drive in the current. He came back down at top speed after letting out a lot of air from his jacket.

 At one point Salah and Johanna motioned me to them and I swam above them to see what they wanted. Turned out there was a fire fish stuck to the bottom of the coral and it took me a while to find out what they actually wanted to show me. Later they also showed me two small crabs hidden inside a hard coral and I took some time to realise what they wanted again. Salah lost his diving boy for Captain to find us, so when he drove past he let a blast of air out of his breathing gear. Got on to the boat rather fast as Captain had said he had spotted some dolphins a bit away, so we raced to that point. Could already see three boats following something so we tagged along and a short while later spotted the dorsal fins of a few bottle-nose dolphins. Drove along with the small shoal and saw that they had been hunting, as they had a colourful parrot fish and a big tuna in their mouths. Took me twenty years but at last I have seen some dolphins (my favourite animals) and what to we get to see, one pooped right next to us. Once they left we carried on and some flying fish rounded of the experience.
Back at the base we cleaned all the gear again and then sat down to write our log books. Then back to the accommodation to write the blog. Of to dinner after that.
More pictures at Picasa and a link to the reef map here.

Diving time: 115 min.
Diving depth: 20,4 meters
Speciality: Underwater: Blue spotted Rays and Lion Fish
Above: Bottle-Nose Dolphins and Flying Fish

Monday, November 18, 2013

Egypt Day 2: House Reef & Woodhouse Reef

Was woken up by an already awake and getting dressed Jon, as he had been asleep since 8 o'clock. Johanna and me where still in bed, so his solution was to rip open the curtains and let the sun stream right in to our faces. Got up, dressed and went to breakfast. Had to find Jon, who had reserved us a table and then had some eggs on toast.
After breakfast back to our accommodation to get prepared for diving. Carried all my gear over to the Extra Divers base and then geared up for the first dive. Got our Nitrox bottles and fixed all our air devices to it. Had our briefing from Santo and then proceeded to the yeti. Got the stuff on and then did our buddy check before jumping in to the water. Dived down to a diving platform at five meters depth and did a check up (if we can blow out our mask underwater). Had the GoPro on my head to film the first dive, so I was checking that the bubbles don't obscure the screen to much. After the check, where Jon and I got some extra weight, we started diving along the coral reef. Saw a bunch of really colourful fish (to be expected in the red sea) and the highlight of the dive was seeing a pair of clown fish with their baby (Nemo?) in their home, a red anemone. Was at 100 bars at that point, so it was time to turn round and head back. Saw some weird snorkel fish which none could identify. Reaching the yeti there where dozens of people in the water around it. Navigating through the people we reached the yeti and then proceeded back to the base to wash our gear.
It unfortunately turned out that the housing of the GoPro wasn't as waterproof as the builders of it had said it would be. Salt water had run all over into the housing and soaked right in to the GoPro. Built it apart and left it to dry whilst writing the dive log and hope it will work by tomorrow.
Had lunch shortly after that, lots of lasagne with a beef burger and some desert which tasted good. Back to diving after that, this time to the Woodhouse Reef with Salah and some other German speaking people. Drove out with a Zodiac, jumping from wave to wave and racing two other speed boats. Reached the dive site and all did a backwards dive in at the same time, so we wouldn't knock ourselves out. Shot down toward the ground, but as we where diving along a cliff side we stopped at 18 meters. Johanna being my buddy we checked the other person and then proceeded along the reef.
The highlight of the journey was a murrain eel, slithering through the reef and a sea turtle feeding (or something like that). Nearly backed in to the reef at one point but had an early warning buddy system, Johanna warning me before I impacted. My air nearly ran out at one point so I was hooked up to Salah for nearly the rest of the journey. Carried on along the cliff and saw lots of different inhabitants of the reef. Safety stop at five meters and then on to the boot. Proofed to be a challenge to get the weights and gear of and then getting on to the Zodiac. Sped back to the hotel, Jon taking a film with his new GPS video camera. Cleaned everything an then wrote the log book with Salah and Mohammed. Back to the accommodation to write the blog and then to dinner.
More pictures at Picasa and a link to the reef map here.

Diving time: 108 minutes
Diving depth: 18 meters
Speciality: Murrain ell swimming and a giant sea turtle, ran out of air early

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Egypt Day 1: Flight and Snorkeling

After two weeks of school, plus a weekend away from home, I was ready for something different. Coming back on Friday, I was of to a party with Johanna and Nico. Stayed there until they threw us out, as the good youth is supposed to do it.
Next day was spent packing and testing a new game mode. Packing was the big thing, because I am of to Egypt with Jon and Johanna. After sleeping for three to four hours until two in the morning, I packed the last things for the journey. Met Rhiannon coming home from somewhere and said goodbye. A few minutes later the two Frenches where in front of the door and we where of to Zürich. Our original flight from Munich had been cancelled, but we got 5 days longer in Egypt for less money, good for us. Reached Zurich about three hours after we left and parked the car, before trying to find the shuttle bus. After looking around, starting to walk a bit toward the airport and finding an other lost couple, we got some help from a local and found the bus stop. Waiting for a bit in the pre-winter weather of Switzerland, we caught the bus, arrived at the airport and checked in rather fast. The airport was rather empty, as it was 6 o'clock in the morning. Had some problems at the security check, as they probably thought that the diving lamp I had in my hand luggage was some kind of futuristic weapon. After filling out some forms we had a coffee whilst waiting for the plane. Got on as planned and the plane it's self was full, considering all the warnings Germany has been telling us about. I got the window seat (guy with the camera) and had a super view over the Alps emerging out of the autumn mist (temperatures being about 4°C). Saw the Alpspitze on our way to Sharm el Sheikh, followed by Venice and the coastline of the Adrian sea. Passed Crete at some point and the clouds from the Alps looked as if they where stretching all the way down to Africa. Us three watched a film on the way with some airline food in between. Landed in Sharm el Sheikh after approximately four hours of flight.
First time I have seen a desert with my own eyes. Got out of the plane and temperatures where near to 30 °C, seven times warmer than at home. Coming in to the terminal the first culture shock. Not the organised terminal of Europe, but a friendly, some times chaotic run airport from the locals. After finding our tour guide we where driven to the Melia Sina, our hotel here. Had some lunch on arrival and then got to our bedroom (after hearing a loud, elderly Russian discussing with the staff).
Problem in our room, three people, two beds. After three hours Johanna got her bed, followed with us registering ourselves at the local diving company. Had a warm welcome from Tanja, who received some chocolate and gummy bears from Jon. Johanna took me snorkelling for the first time following our registration. The sun was just setting so some fish had gone to bed, as there where only a few there. Did not stop a parrot fish rallying some cronies and attacking Johanna. Don't know what they where trying to achieve with that. Got some pictures of the sunset and under water, before heading back and having a chat with Jon and Mohamed (a local dive guide). Stuffed ourselves with the food of the restaurant later and then started writing the blog. Other two are asleep now (I think) and there is some disco music being played outside. Doesn't matter, am knackered enough to sleep.
More pictures at Picasa and a map of the reef here.

Diving time: 15 minutes
Diving depth: 5 meters
Speciality: Fish swarm attacking Johanna

Saturday, November 9, 2013

College Four Geocaches

As it is Saturday today and I had got nothing planed or things I needed to do, I was geocaching again.
I woke up rather early for Saturday and after eating breakfast I transferred a few geocaches to my GPS. Looked out of my bedroom window and saw sunshine and blue sky, but a rather cold wind, so I put my rain jacket on. Opened the front door and was greeted with rain from the sky, typical. The weather forecast had mentioned rain today, but really, a change in the span of 2 minutes?! Set of for geocache Nr.1 (link) and found it in a downpour, looking in tree holes and the likes. Took me rather a long time, but after logging it, it was of to Nr. 2 (link). When I reached the top of the hill it was located on the weather had turned in to a rainstorm, so I took shelter for a while in a pavilion. It wasn't getting better, so after searching for the clue and doing some mathematics in a rainstorm I found the geocache in disguise of a hedgehog. Took me by surprise.
The Naturpark Rhoen 2+4 was my next one. After a walk along a country road with the weather getting increasingly better I found it in a rather remote place. The sun was out by then so I continued on to Nr. 4 (link) and after walking through an autumn deciduous forest and frightening some deer (I should have bought my DSLR, I like taking pictures of deer) I found that, too. After that, on my way back to the apartment, I tried to find two more but failed at that. Super four geochaches and a rather surprised me that the area has got some nice places to see.
Some more pictures at Picasa.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

College Quarry Geocaching

Got college for two weeks again, up in Northern Bavaria. Rather far from home.
To get a better feel of the area, I decided to do a geocache after school. This was actually planed for the weekend, but as the weather forecast has foretold rain I decided to do it today. After school and lunch (burning some rice) it was up the hills and past an airfield. Not a lot going on as the weather wasn't that good either. Under ten degrees Celsius and a bit of rain. Found the first way-point rather easily and proceeded to the cache. It was only a small multi-cache. Found the box after a bit of a crawl through brambles, logged in and left a travel-bug there.
After enjoying the view down into a quarry, it was back to my rented apartment.
Geocache informations can be found here.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Wild Foxes and Geocaching

Yesterday saw dad and me having a grill evening in Freches Vieweid with some friends and a rather friendly wild fox. He even tried to steel a rucksack from right under our noses, but Hopsing being the owner got it back without much difficulty. Some pictures of the evening from Jon here.

Today I went Geocaching after a long time out. Actually wanted to go with Nico and Franzy, but Franzy was not well, so I went on my own. I did visit them before continuing and had a bit of a piano session with Franzy. After saying goodbye it was on to the geocache.
Parked at the bottom of the Blender and walked up a bit until I got to the first stage. Solved that rather easy and continued on. Had problems with stage 3 but after about 30 minutes it was found with the help of the hints. Found the cache in the Twilight, just in time as I had no torch and after logging in it was back to the car and home. Geocache informations can be found here.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Diving Urisee

Was out diving today with my diving instructor in the Urisee near Reutte in Austria.
Had to get geared up first, which took some time. After getting into our wetsuits we went down to the lake. First aim was a platform at 5 meters depth, where we got our bearings to carry on towards the “shark”. After that it was gliding along a moon-like landscape, with trees coming out of the blue until we reached the shark. Some local divers had put up a replica of a great white shark, stuck on a pole. After that visit we carried on a bit and when Uli said so we turned round. Swam back a bit further than before and visited the face carved out of wood, like we had last week. Then back to the platform at 5 meters for our safety stop after which we resurfaced. Dived for 40 minutes and had about 500 bar*l left in my tank, so no more extended diving. Went back to our changing place and had a drink and an Apfelstrudel in a near by restaurant whilst writing the logbook.

Max. depth: 12m
Diving time: 40 min.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Cortina 2013 Day 4

Last day of biking in Cortina this year. Biked up to the Refugio Mietres and after a cappuccino back down to the hotel to pack up for home. Fun four day, all spent with Group 1. Never managed that before, as I wasn't fit enough or just to fast for myself. Now of to school.
Track at GPSies, pictures at Picasa and Sepps report here.

Time in saddle: 1 hour 10 min.
Distance: 11.5 km
Average speed: 9.3 km/h

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Cortina 2013 Day 3

Woke up perfectly today, right when the alarm rung. Dad calls it a submarine attack warning, but it's just an alarm. Went down to a breakfast buffet and after Jon tested two eggs, one of which was near to raw, I got a nicely boiled egg. Dad was still tired and had to get his bike to work again, as something to do with the back wheel went wrong yesterday.
Group 1 was ready to go at 9 o'clock again, but had to wait a bit longer as Sepp received the GPS rack for today from my device. He didn't have it on his for some reason. Set of a bit late in the direction we took yesterday, but instead of following the short cut steep road we took the main road uphill. Turned right at one point and instead of taking the lift like the people had done on the track before we went up the road. Karin had some problems with her gears but Hopsing managed to repair it in no time. Good that Hopsing is with us, he seems invaluable as a scout, mechanic and friend. Up and up it went again until we reached a second lift. This one we took as the next passage was unbikeable. Weird thing was that bikes up to 20kg were allowed up and bikes up to 30kg down. Everyone with bike reached the top and Sepp and me refilled our water supplies at a restaurant.
Then it went downhill, after some discussion, along a very gravely road. Even saw a car come up at one point, no four wheel drive. Hopsin got a flat tire on the way downhill, but that was repaired in a jiffy. Skidding down we reached a tarmac road and continued along that. Stopped again as we had missed the track at a curve somewhere, me being at the front this time. Biked back uphill a bit and then down exactly the same road again. Turned out the trail was a bit to much for some and there was a warning sign anyway. Reached an intersection of the tarmac road and the rail so Paulina, Inge and me went down the trail while the rest continued down the road. Inge and me slipped on a long and went metal pipe, but got our feet out in time. Met up with the rest at the bottom and while Inge explained the road to a caravan the rest continued.
Along the main road it went until we reached the same crossing as yesterday. And like yesterday we went up and up the tarmac road. I was stuck at the back but nearly managed to catch up to Moni in the end. Instead of going down the trail to the lift like the day before we carried on uphill. And uphill it went for a long time. Had a quick lunch in the shadow of a huge climbing mountain, I think the name was Trofana. Carried on pushing most of the rest to a restaurant between to mountain were we had lunch. We could see an apparently very famous mountain called something like Marmolada.
After lunch it was downhill again, as we had reached the highest point of today at about 2400m above sea level. First bit downhill was a wide, rocky and steep ski piste. Everyone else pushed and I somehow got down alive without using my brakes. Those had been rendered unusable in that steepness. Had a bit of a adrenalin shake at the bottom and thank god nothing bad happened, that could have ended really ugly. Carried on along the side of a mountain with marmot warnings sounding all around us. Paulina is the only one I heard from that saw a small one scurry along the path in front of her.
After that along some of the most beautiful mountains trail I have done up to date. Biking downhill through shrub field with the Alps in the background. Really felt like mountain biking in a film there. Down through the wood along woodland trails and at the bottom the rest in front of me stopped. I couldn't break in time so I evaded and went down another long, gravely and steep track. Seems like they want to catch me today. Survived that smaller one to the bottom as well and biked through a river. Jumped of my bike at the end and got a few pictures of the rest biking through the water. Went a bit downhill after that, but we reached the main road fairly quick.
Then it was back uphill again to get to the top of the Falzerego pass. Had a short stop to refill our water supplies at a fountain whilst being passed by a police car and a fire brigade truck. Reached the top after some convoy biking and managed to create a traffic chaos by trying to cross the road. Pushed uphill again, as the track said we were supposed to do that. When we saw that it would carry on quiet a bit longer and it was 16.00, Sepp put his foot down on it and we turned round again to continue down the main road. Whizzing down the road we saw a lot of old military vehicles come the other way, some collectors items. After leaving the road we trailed the rest back to Cortina, me going over the handle bars once. Nothing bad happened from that.

Track at GPSies, pictures at Picasa, Sepps report here and Dads report here (top one).

Time in saddle:5 hours 50 min.
Distance: 49.1 km
Average speed: 8.4 km/h

Friday, September 6, 2013

Cortina 2013 Day 2

Woke up at 5.55 today. Dads alarm went of at that ungodly time as he said he wanted to have the felling he could sleep for another hour and a half. I lay there awake until 7.15, when my alarm rang. Got up and dressed and went down for breakfast at 7.30. Had a delicious breakfast with bread, yoghurt, fruit, eggs (dads was still runny as we had to make them ourselves, Jon says he drank his). After breakfast we got changed to go biking and at 9 o'clock Group 1 left the perimeter.
Biked down into down-town Cortina at first, following our track for the day. The first track discussion was barely a kilometre after the hotel. We carried on and shortly after crossing the river we started going uphill. Along a short cut between the main road it went uphill rather at a rather steep angle, but still bike-able. Reached the main road after saying good morning to all the locals standing around and watching nine bikers go past. Our track then veered of the main road to a gravel path. Inge suggested we follow the main road as we come to the same place and we still need our energy for later. Most agreed but Paulina would have preferred the gravel path, so it was agreed that she and Hopsing would take that route. Only problem, Hopsing didn't go up the path as he didn't want to, so in the end we all went up the main road. Travelled up at a fast and constant speed as this is our longest tour and we wanted to get finished. Hopsing and Paulina raced ahead at one point and a few minutes later it looked like four race bikers came past waving. At first we wondered who that could be, turned out Paulina and Hopsing had turned round and headed back with two race bikers.
Went of the main road shortly after that and went up a rather steep tarmac road, but again still bikeable. Up and up it went, from 1700m above sea level to 2000m. Long clothes on when we reached the top and down it went along a trail with Paulina at the front once again. Super trail downhill, had to get off a few times, but the bikeable parts were really fun. Managed to cross a weird wood bridge with Inges help and then had a short stop at the bottom of a ski lift.
After refilling our water supplies it went downhill along the main road again at a fast speed. Turned left onto a gravel path and then it went up higher than last time. Super scenery all the way up and sunshine most of the way. Had lunch on the way up and ate the sandwiches the hotel had made us. After lunch through a short mountain tunnel and it went further up. Past the tree line and we were once again in the high mountains. At one point we had to get off our bikes and push uphill the rest until 2400m above sea level. Met some people walking up along that way and when we reached our highest point of the day we had a short stop to get our long clothes on again. Carried on shortly afterwards and a few seconds in, not everybody had got on yet, Paulina had a big crash. Luckily, again, nothing permanent happened but falling on your knee is painful.
Downhill we went, always getting on our bikes and off again to get over some obstacle, be it a big stone or a deep hole. The scenery looked like we had stolen some mountain range out of the rocky mountain, when we reached the tree level again I was looking for the “Beware! Bears” sign. Heidi had something weird going on with her brakes, so she didn't go to fast. Something was wrong with the spring that keeps the brakes apart. We carried on downhill, along a stream bed with a bit of water going down. We crossed it a few times, once with a stone bridge built by Hopsing. We biked on gravel, sand and through water with no functioning GPS signal as the mountains where blocking the satellite signals. Had a real adventure going downhill there. No other people, rivers falling of the side of the mountains and disappearing due to the wind. Gämse not being bothered by us. Crossing rivers coming from the tops. And always we were surrounded by imposing but beautiful mountains. Met a few people at the end, after some long biking along forest paths. Seemed like we were back to civilisation. Still further downhill through alpine forest along gravel paths until we stopped at a point which Group 1 had crossed three years ago when we were in St. Vigile.
After that along the main valley river back to Cortina at a fast pace. Average in the forest was probably about 25km/h. There were a few short steep bits, Hopsing being the only one who managed it up a long one. Nearly reached Cortina but something went wrong with Monis bike chain. It somehow got caught in the front gear box and a lot of man power was needed from Hopsing to get it free. That was managed so we went down to Cortina, passing a bob run pipe along the way. Reached a café and had something to drink before we went back to the hotel for a shower and Brotzeit.
Track at GPSies, pictures a Picasa, Sepps report here and Dads blog of the day here (underneath the one above).

Time in saddle: 5 hours 20 min.
Distance: 43.4 km
Average speed: 8.2 km/h

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Cortina 2013 Day 1

Started of really early today, somewhere at around 5 o'clock in the morning we left Nesselwang. We had four cars: the Polish, the Brits and two German ones. As we were three British Citizens in dad's car (thought not for long any more), Betina had to use her old American English skills.
Inge and Heidi were placed to Vera and Paulina, so the two none polish had to use a dictionary (figurative).
First stop was at our usual petrol station in Austria to pay the fee to use the motorway. Was rather chilly and we carried on through Austria with a stop in the Rosenberg motorway restaurant (ham and eggs for breakfast, delicious). After that on to our final stop in the Dolomites, us four in dad Skoda talking about politics, relativity theory, etc.
Reached a parking place in the end and got our stuff ready, which means taking out and building together bikes, getting changed. I managed to get some water from a bar and we were s´ready to set of. Started of on a busy tarmac road going uphill and our girls had to get out of their long clothes after a few curves. It was supposed to be cold but I was fine in my short clothes. After getting out of their long stuff we carried on and overtook Group 2 a short while later. All the while a lot of buses and cars were going past. We overtook all those again as they were stuck at a …...... Some empty road downhill after that as the cars and buses were all stuck. And it went up and up and up. Up to about 2300m above sea level. There was a huge park place up there packed with cars. We had a short stop there and then continued on, along a packed walkway to the “Drei Zinnen”. Really, what was going on there was a country moving out. Dodging our way through the masses with difficulty as some just did not want to get out of the way we carried on a bit longer than was planned. Got some good pictures of the “Drei Zinnen” and then went back through people.
Went away from that overfilled path to a mountain trail. Lots of skidding and getting of involved, Paulina and Inge being at the front. On the way down we had a break for lunch and then we continued on, over piles of rubble, through forest with root, running rivers and dried up river beds. Reached the bottom with Inge only falling of once, but luckily nothing bad happening. Along a bit of tarmac and then 900m uphill. I stuck to the back and was mostly alone near the bottom, with Paulina paying a visit here and there (her racing up and down). Always saw the rest at short intervals and stayed with Heidi, Moni and Sepp on the last stretch of kilometres. At one point our four GPSs were surrounded by the mountains and got no signal, me apparently jumping back and fourth between two valleys. Carried on after some vote of confidence and we were on the right track, as we found out when the sattelites were there again. Reached the top after a stretch of pushing and had a drink in an Alm up there. Long clothes on after that and downhill it went along a rocky path. Stopped at one point and as I found out (me being at the back again, as it had gone uphill a bit), Inge had lost her GPS. After some panicky discussion, she, Paulina and Hopsing headed back to look for it whilst the rest continued on. Along the way we found out she had luckily found it and were carrying on. Us being at the main road again, Karin and Hetty waited for the rest to catch up to get the cars whilst Sepp, Heidi, Moni and me carried on. It went uphill a bit after that, but when we reached the top it was down, down and down into Cortina de' Ampezzo. Heidi stopped at a crossing to tell Inge and Paulina, which had followed us, were the hotel was. Reached the hotel exhausted and after securing my bike had a shower and then wrote my blog. Of to dinner now.
Track at GPSies, pictures at Picasa, a report from Sepp here and Dads blog of Group 2 here.

Time in saddle: 5 hours 10 min.
Distance: 42.8 km
Average speed: 8.3 km/h

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Last Thursday Tour

Lot's of sunshine today, but rather chilly. That was the weather today, but as we start biking at quarter to seven there was not much sun left.
Set of not really having any concept of where we were going and heeded towards Wertach via the dam. Before Wertach up towards the Buronhütte, and it is very steep going up there. Had to lean far forwards to not fall of backwards. Reached the hut and had a short rest enjoying the rays of the setting sun.
After that downhill towards the Haslacher Alm. Stopping at one of the fences to climb over with our bikes we discussed about going along a way Group 2 went last week. They said it was rather good and Sepp confirmed this, as he had been up yesterday. So up we went once more and after another fence it was downhill, getting stuck in some mud and bombarding people with it.
Back to the Bistro after biking through Bayerstetten and as last event accidentally cut of a car on the main road.
Track at GPSies and a picture at Picasa.

Time in saddle: 1 hour 40 min.
Distance: 21.84 km
Average speed: 13.1 km/h
Altitude meters: 564 m

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Timmelsjoch Day 3: Timmelsjoch Pass

Woke up with aching everything in the morning today, once again by two alarm clocks. Had breakfast as the only guest there, as we were the only guests. After some semmel, cheese and jam we got changed to set of.
After getting everything prepared we were back on the saddles, me with an aching knee, but nothing to serious. Had to find our way back to the track at first, as we had taken as short cut to Längenfeld yesterday. Stopped at a SPAR once again, but being the holy day of Sunday (especially in Austria), it was closed. After Nico refilled his bottles at a well we set of for real and somehow got back onto the track. Meet the Ötztaler Ache again and continued on along it until we reached Huben. Shortly after Huben it went up a long steep tarmac road, something we would never have managed at the end of the day before. We were aiming for Sölden after all. After that along the river and mountainside until we reached Sölden. Sölden being a tourist town was bustling with life and tourism. I pointed out the huge ski resort to Nico on the way. Stopped at a petrol station and I had a look at the climb we were about to scale on the GPS. I was rather dishearten as we were at 1400m and had to go all the way up to 2500m. Carried on thought as an aim had been set; reach the top of Timmelsjoch. Had a few stops here and there, me being in front for a change. Reached Zwieselstein after a while and looked for a place to fill up our water supplies, as I though there was a long stretch of no inhabited land coming up. Found no well, so we rang at the last house and got some nice cool tap water. After that up and up and up, me being behind Nico nearly all the time as we kept getting some headwind and then none at other times. Stopped in front of a tunnel to put our lights on and the continued on. We where being overtaken by race biker rather a lot but no other mountain bikers so far.
Reached a suburb of Obergurgl and had a quick snack to keep up our energy, a “Alm Toast” (bred with cheese, ham and egg; yummy). After that a lot of curves uphill, Nico carrying on and me trying to do a stop at every 100m altitude again. Failed at that as I was trying a bit to keep up and stopped after about 200m for the first time. Reached Hochgurgl and Nico later on, him taking pictures of the spectacular view over the Ötztal. Was really windy, so we got on some long clothes before going through the toll gate, not paying anything due to being bikers. A short stretch downhill, picking up speed and after a sharp turn it was goodbye Ötztal, hello more mountains. Came around the curve and saw a long road go strait uphill. Continued along that for a while, biking through the barren lands of the Alps, having passed the tree line a while ago. Stopped for a short while and had our sandwiches at an info point about the smuggle routes from Italy to Austria and vice versa. After a lot of curves, less traffic and more cows on the road we reached the top of Timmelsjoch.
About six hours of nearly constantly biking, a lot of aching bum and muscles we reached the top and the goal of our journey. Taking some top pictures and ringing up dad to ask if he could pick us up we decided that we hadn’t spent all our energy for nothing coming up here. Back on the bikes, long clothes on and downhill we went. A lot longer than the day before, so that makes that downhill part the my longest to date. Through dark tunnels, past Alpine scenery and overtaking moped and cars alike we spent 1 hour and about 27 km getting downhill. I suggested we let some cars past at one point, but we just caught up to them again. Had a stop to change our SD cards, as Nicos 16 GB were full with GoPro videos. We noticed we were in Italy rather soon, as the heat swelled up a lot compared to the top. Reached St. Leonhard in Passeier one hour after leaving the top and had the finishing ice cream. Wrote to dad were exactly we were and Nico got some Internet on his cold handy. He had put it in his bag at the top where it was windy and cold and it had stayed like that all the way down. After dad came and I bribed hi with some ice it was back home over the very pass we had biked. Rained on the way back, but no bother to us as we were in the car. 3 Days of biking finished with a super time in the Alps.
Track at GPSies and pictures at Picasa.

Time in saddle: 6 hours
Distance: 74.6 km
Average speed: 12.5 km/h
Altitude meters: 1573 m