People often call me daring. Its so funny when to hear that. In my head I am the biggest wuss in the world. I am scared of heights, scared of claustrophobic places, dont like crowds, cannot dive too deep, scared to fucking stand up on my board fearing if my knee locks in as it does so often, and if i fall will my thoughts fail me and i may not get back on the board again. And i am not ashamed of this wussness in me.. thats me and i cannot change that. Some of my friends who know me really well, know that i am a wuss in many aspects of my life.
But today, the words that kept me alive are, You are not a wuss liz, you can do it. You have so much to do in life, this is not it. Take baby steps and think of that warm bed thats waiting for you in your hostel. when you get there this will seem like an experience, a lesson in survival and all will be fine again.
I took a bus to go to Kirkjubour, the area of the oldest settlement in Faroe Island. One family has had 17 generations live in one house...and there is a cute little church at the edge of the island. My bus dropped me half way, and then i started to walk, which according to the driver was 5 kms. After about 6 kms of walking, when i could see no end to my road, i took a risk to hitch hike. The first vehicle a lady did not stop but the second one a marine engineer stopped and when i told him my destination, he told me to hop in, as it was another 4 kms away. A fine guy, dropped me and left. I looked around, took some great pics and i saw three guys come down a trail. They said the view was spectacular, its nicknamed the walk through "Lord of the rings" and the trek is very easy to do, expect for the bit where the climb up the mountain is really steep and from then on its a short 7 km walk to get to the town of Torshavn. You can do it in two hours.
So i thought i did a 14 km trek in Cinque Terre, so this will be a cake walk. And so i began the trail. The climb up to the top of the mountain took me a good 2 hours cos the view from that climb was beyond beautiful. I stopped took pics, ate a bread, and then the trail began. Everywhere along the trail there was a wooden log about 1 feet, painted red, that indicates the path. My traill started at 11 and around 1 o'clock it started to snow. When it started to snow, i was a lot more interiors inside the mountains, so everywhere i looked it looked the same, I knew where the drop of the mountain was, but that was a good km away and very steep down. So there was no way, i could have gone down when the snow began, It was just a big fall. The snow flakes was coming down in a gush, and huge ones, and in less than 15 minutes i was ankle deep in snow. Not a soul for miles together to be seen, forget a soul i could not even spot a house for shelter. I knew i was somewhere half way into my trek so there was no going back. I lost my trail cos the snow covered the stumps. If i stopped, the cold will eat me up, and my legs will freeze, so i started to walk faster. I spoke to the snow, i spoke to the sun, i spoke to my positive self, but my biggest partner in conversation was the sun. I even called for the sun in Mahabs. I had to talk to someone. This may sound very stupid. But i had to talk to someone. And i spoke to nature. This continued for an hour on a path that looked like a trail. Along this path were streams filled with stones. So walked over them. At around 2 when the snow had no plans to stop, I started to lose hope. And then all my stupidity came to me like a 3d film. Always prepare before you leave. Check the weather, Check if you can contact anyone if you are stuck(basically get a simcard), did you carry water-no, did you carry extra pair of sox - no, Where is your raincoat? Man, everything was a No, at this point. Yes when i began the trail it was so sunny i had to put my jackets in my backpack, so then none of this mattered. Who was to know, this is how dramatic a change can be in Faroe.
With all these stupid thoughts in the forefront, I lost hope, I started to feel week, helpless and desperate. Sat on a rock to light a cigarette, that fucking lighter did not work. How much i missed a gas lighter then. And then when everything seemed like falling apart. I sat on that rock and cried the loudest. There was no one to hear me make a complete ass of myself. I cried, into nature, into the wild, to the sun, to the snow and to the darkness that was coming over me. I cried hard, thinking who will find me. Nobody knows me here, nobody would even know i am lost. Who would care. What if it snowed like this and i never reached a destination. I started to think is this it? Would i be able to survive a night in freezing cold up on a mountain. And then i found a big stone, and i went and sat behind the stone, hoping the snow wont reach me there. Thats when i realised, Liz you are panicking now. Instead of doing something about the situation, you are simply imagining things and panicking. Change your thoughts. All those quotes i post on fb came to mind...Your thoughts can make or break you, blah blah blah.
So i changed my thought and started to speak to myself aloud, Liz, keep going, its 2 o'clock, it gets dark in faroe at 9 30, you still have some light till then, so keep going. One step at a time and then it will soon be a 1000 steps and you will reach somewhere. So a completely wet me, with cold cold water oozing out of my shoes, i started to walk again. All this while there was a bird for company. And then suddenly the bird turned to my left and flew away. Hoping that the bird was looking for food in some place with people i detoured and followed the bird and saw a lake. There was a shimmer of hope in me, but when i got to the lake, it was just a lake. Not a soul around. Again i walked along the lake and i suddenly realized that i am actually going downwards, that was the first smile in those four hours. After a 20 minute walk, i saw a house and i saw a car outside. To get to that house would take me a good 45 minutes, but what the heck there is a house. If i wave forever they might look up and see me and come and help me. I had some hope. Baby steps continued, no trails, just by a stream, but the grass i was walking on was so soaked in snow, i was walking into puddles all the while. My only positive thought at this point was dont let your feet freeze. Keep walking if possible faster, so that the motion creates blood flow. After a while I reached a barbed wire fence. Now how do i climb over this. So in this freezing cold and incessant snowing i carried a boulder and put it on the other side of the fence, and then i picked another one and put it on this side of the fence. Threw my back pack to the other side, and carefully climbed over the boulders.
Where did i get this idea from? My disaster management training i got from DHL. One whole day was tricks like this in that training. If you are stuck with no way out, what would you do. And first thing they taught us was calm your mind. And, believe you can do it. Then ideas will flow. So i am off on the other side of the barbed wire, to what luck? Another barbed wire fencing, this time, with thorny looking barbed wire on all the four sides to me. NO frigging gate. I dont understand what a piece of land with barbed wire on all four sides is useful for. So this time, i used another of my training tools. I split the fence to form a gap where i could slide through. Took my shoe strings and tied the wires so that there was enough gap for me to pass through. It was such a smooth mission...Ha ha. This was the last bit of this nightmare... it was a slope, so i sat and skid down all wet and dirty to a gravel road. By now i had seen quite a few houses and my heartbeat was coming back to normal.... walked for 10 minutes and found a godown, called out for help... none. I needed shelter, i needed to remove my shoes, i could feel by now, i was not able to feel my right leg, so i was dragging it....Panic was gone, but physically i was exhausted and needed help, needed to be warm or i would faint. Walked another 10 min and opened a door to a building, it was a store with tools for construction, and rang the bell at the desk. A smiling man walked upto me, and shamelessly i lost control, sat on his floor and cried.... He got me a towel, called for his son, asked him take the car out and they dropped me to the hostel.
I know I was stupid from many angles, and i cursed myself for getting into this mess while crying up in the snow, and swore that if i got out alive i will never do something like this ever again, but now that i am warm and comfortable in my bed, and writing this blog, i feel like i am ready to climb another mountain.
Relax, I will never take a risk like this again, alone. yep, with company i will definitely do it again... It would be such a laugh riot, instead of a cry riot.
But honestly, Your thoughts can make or break you. And against the mightiness of this nature, we are all just dust in the wind....