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The blooming waterfall - when caves are growing flowers
Rinquelle, Betlis, Switzerland, 2001
technical support: AfU St. Gallen; Stefan Füglistaler, Ruedi Stampfli; Thomas Sutter, Philipp Kaufmann, Marco Rüfner; Bert, Daniëlle, Magda, Nando
photography: Ximena Davalos, Michael Güller, Tilo Herlach, Hanspeter Högger, Lukas Menzi, Zsuzsa Liptàk
patronage: Ostschweizer Regierungskoferenz, Cantons of Eastern Switzerland

A land-art event as an appetizer for the Swiss National Expo '02...

The Rinquelle is and remains fascinating and surprising. This waterfall is not only jutting right out of the middle of an otherwise completely solid rock-wall: it isn't even running all the time, but only occasionally, during a few days, a couple of times a year. The only traces indicating its existence, during the periods when it is actually absent, are the patches of moss clinging to the rock along the line where the water is falling down.

The Rinquelle is the overflow of an as yet mostly unexplored karst cave system whose catchment area encompasses almost the entire Churfirsten range along the Walensee in Switzerland. If it happens that, during the melting of snow or due to several days of heavy rain, the cave system can't hold all the water anymore, it is being squeezed from the main drain into the lateral arms: the Rinquelle starts running.

And then, one day, out of nowhere, the mountain spits out flowers! Yellow and red spots are chasing each other in the wild foam, jumping and dancing with the drops of water. During a few minutes only - afterwards, the Serenbach creek carries the flower carpet down into the Walensee.

Nature, and the Rinquelle as being one of its stunning phenomena, is suprising us once again and confronts us with an unexpected riddle: what's actually happening in the mountain, making it spit out flowers all of a sudden? Are the Churfirsten, after all, really home to the legendary fountain of youth? Are the demons of the mountains playing a trick on us? Or have they just been cleaning their cave?