An hour later I reached the turnoff to the Stabener Waalweg, where I descended to return to Juval Castle
back along the circuit. I marvel at the magnificent views of the Venosta Valley
and the Merano
basin. As the sun moves further west, the valley is bathed in the warm light of sunset. In autumn, Naturno is nothing less than spectacular. Gazing up at Juval Castle an hour or so later, I can make out the Hoachwool via ferrata
– built on the most challenging stretch of the Naturnser Waalweg trail – which rock climbers cross nowadays using steel chains for support. Back in the old days, when the irrigation channel system was built along those sections using the simplest tools, iron rods were anchored into the rockface to which wooden troughs were to be attached. This allowed the water to be carried from the Schnalstal Valley
down to Naturno. The remnants of this construction work are still visible on parts of the rockface. The Waaler had to ascend the rock face without support
at dizzying heights
and keep his balance along the steep paths. Those who lost their balance almost certainly paid with their lives. Two Waalers were assigned to this dangerous section and those elected to the job had to be sure-footed and immune to vertigo. Nowadays, people like that would probably be called crazy or extreme!
An ancient Roman saying comes to mind: “A wise man is content with his lot, whatever it may be, without desiring what he doesn’t have
.” Looking at the Waalweg trails near Wallburg Castle, I smile to myself. That ancient Roman couldn’t have reckoned with the dogged determination of those old Tyroleans who built the trails against all the odds! Even today, some apple orchards in the Venosta Valley are still being irrigated by the waters of the ancient canals.