That is the opening line of the pocket-sized brochure produced for the new educational trail through the glacier foreland in the Lötschental (Switzerland), but applies equally to the recently opened Wilde John educational walking trail in the Hohe Tauern National Park in Austria. Both trails are designed to educate visitors about changes in the landscape, both naturally occurring and those caused by human activity, with the information being conveyed in very different ways and targeting different age groups.
The "Wilde John " path is aimed at young visitors; it teaches through a tale the history of the ‘Johnsbach’. In this tale the mountain stream ‘Johnsbach’ is represented by the Giant John. Visitors follow the stream from its wild and untrammelled youth through being straightened out and tamed between 1950 and 1975, then returned to its natural course as part of a LIFE project and freed from its restraints. The various interactive stations along the course of the stream allow children for example to discover what John is thinking and also provide information about other story-based LIFE project venues in Austria.
The 23 information points on the thematic educational trail on climate and glacier areas explain how the glacier forelands around the Lang Glacier have developed and teach visitors about how glaciers shape the landscape. There are an accompanying free leaflet and booklet available. Each information station includes a QR code that can be used in conjunction with certain mobile phones to view the website which contains information about each station.
The walking trail therefore provides both scientific and recreational information. There are a number of routes to choose from: it takes around 5 hours to visit all 23 information stations. For summer 2011, the edition of a scientific book as well as some worksheets for secondary and high school classes are planned.