National Geographic : 1965 Sep
barrier, we made friends so fast that I remem ber the country as much for them as for its magnificent mountains. On one rare occasion in Innsbruck when I found myself alone, I walked at night along the inky River Inn flowing silently but swiftly between its man-made walls. I visualized the crossing in Roman times, the building of the first bridge-Briicke-in the 12th century, and overland commerce flowing through here between Bavaria's smiling fields and the broad valley of the Po River. Our route still was eastward. Kitzbiihel, full of German visitors, gave way to the high country of Lungau. Here the storybook towns of Tamsweg, Mariapfarr, and Mauterndorf retain the look of old Austria and keep alive the picturesque Samson Parades. The Samsonumzilge are very "folkloris tic," Herr Dr. Werner Oppitz of the State Tourist Department had told us in Salzburg. "No one knows how old they are, or what they really mean." We arrived at Mariapfarr in time to see helpers lower a giant effigy, clad in a blue tunic, from a hayloft onto the shoulders of the strongest man in town (page 388). The tunic enveloped the man, and the figure above took on life of its own. To me, "Samson" looked more like a Crusader or a conquistador than the Biblical character. He carried a lance and wore a sword, armor, and helmet. Two comical barrel-shaped dwarfs, a jolly man and woman, accompanied Samson. The red-vested village band led the way. In front of every inn Samson stopped and danced as the band played, and the proprietor came out with wine and beer. He lifted the skirts of each figure and gave drink to the man inside. "Krott-cola" Washes Down Jagerbrot South of Grobming the land rises toward a range of the Alps called the Niedere Tauern and here, near Kleinsolk, we found the Peter Krott family, one of Austria's most unusual. Dr. and Mrs. Krott and the boys Max and Martin had lived in the Italian Alps with two brown bears named Bumsli and Sepha for two years while making scientific observa tions on the animals' habits and physiology. Peter Krott adopted the bears when they were infants and bottle-fed them until old enough to forage for themselves. But even when freed to roam, Bumsli and Sepha stayed with their foster parents. The cubs-with no knowledge of a father-regarded both Dr. Krott and his wife as their mother. Bears, the Krotts learned, will always be 386 Gliding earthward, sailplane pilot Jakob Ehrensperger prepares to land at Switzer land's Samedan Airport in the Inn Valley. Here, where warm southern winds help create updrafts in the narrow depression, sailplaners ride their motorless craft above glaciers of the Bernina Alps. Towed by a powered plane, a wide winged sailplane climbs from a misty glen in Austria's Oberpinzgau region. In the dis tance, towering Kitzsteinhorn lifts its snowy cone above the clouds (left). Sailplaners get their initial lift either by tow or from a motor-driven winch that hurls them skyward. Pilots maneuver skillfully in a series of circles to gain altitude.