Volcanos and Thermal Springs.

A story about Iceland ? No, I'm gonn'a take you to Sarvar in Hungary. There is a chain of extinct volcanoes stretching north from lake Balaton. Their slopes offer fertile soil for vineyards and supported us with steep ascents. In the evening we were soaking our rattled backs in thermal water.

Our party consisted of Heinz and Elfi in their RAV4, Rudi and Peperl with their Pajero, Martin and his Pajero and Karin and me in our Cherokee. We chose the Sport Hotel Sarvar for base camp, 100m north of the thermal springs. At home we had made preparations using 1:100 000 trail-maps and had punched the coordinates of many points into the gps.

The first scouting led us along dusty paths to the south ascent of the volcano Sag. Slowly we climbed the hill bumping between cozy cabins in small vineyards. Karin took the usual trail to climb the last slope. Heinz convinced his RAV to take the direct line and Martin followed in his Pajero with - as usual - "enough" throttle.

Even without car some of us had to use 4x4 to reach the summit. A breathtaking panorama was waiting for us. The flat land stretched out from the foothills and in the haze near the horizon we could get a glimpse of the Somlö, the big brother of our volcano. After some dusty miles we reached a sand pit, that had not been used for many years. Sandy potholes and short steep climbs invited us to play around for a while until our ladies called us to have dinner in the castle of Sitke. There we met Andy, who told us about some nice trails along the river Raab. No wonder next morning we found ourselves rolling south along the river. A sunny grassy plain led us to the first river crossing.

Clear water and the reliable riverbed made crossing easy. Following the trail we found some muddy ditches and rather deep ruts. Being caught by some ruts Martin didn't give in and dug his way followed by dense clouds from his exhaust. The next ditch was a lot deeper than he expected. Another smoke screen and his mud tires paddled through.

Karin and Heinz collected their guts and covered their rigs with a bio-degradable coat of paint. The winner in our custom paint contest was Rudi. He managed to dip his Pajero deep enough to convert it to the pig of the day. The question is : "Is there anything missing ?"
It took some more miles until Rudi solved the problem after a thorough examination ,"my lizence plate is gone." Martin smiled for a moment. Then he found out that his plate too was missing. This bought us the ticket in the big mud-fishing with and without tools. When we reached the mud hole Rudi's plate was bathing in the sun besides the ruts. We could not get hold of Martin's plate until next day, when Rudi dived into the mud with hands and feet.

It was a wonderful sunny sunday when we set out to climb the Somlö, the biggest of the volcanoes. The final ascent to the summit we made on foot. Sure, it is our goal to conquer difficult trails, but we respect closed roads wherever we find them. Treading lightly we want to get along well with the inhabitants and we'd like to find friendly faces whenever we return to an area.

On monday the sun accompanied us on our final tour along the Raab.

On our way home I got an answer to an old question, "with some care you can switch from 4-low to 4-high on the go. Is it possible to switch the other way ?" When my gearbox suddenly blocked everything but the 5th gear I learned a lot about handling a box with no synchronization.