It was a cold day, a muddy day and a rainy day. It was the first day of my life that I felt raw fear and knew a stupid mistake could be the end. It was the first time in my life that I felt afraid to die.
We left the bothy in the early morning and were greeted by a group of wild deer. While we walked uphill towards them they just kept an eye on us. Only when we were just a few meters away they seemed to realise that we were really heading their way. They ran off, but were quickly stopped by curiosity to watch us walk by. Funny to realise that they watch us as much as we watch them! After crossing the hills, we went back down thinking it was time to meet the biggest challenge of our day: getting across a swamp. How wrong could we have been! It took some caution and some jumping about, but our walking poles were are best friends to guide us along. Not much later the Scottish rain came our way. Two river crossings and a boggy field later we realised this wasn’t just a drizzle that would pass, but hey, we can handle some proper rain! Or at least, so we thought! We walked along the river into a magnificent little valley while the rain kept hammering down on us. With a big smile hiding in our rain jackets we ate a snack and started climbing and scrambling out of the valley that slowly became one big river bedding. There was no path to be found, but we knew where to go. Up the mountain to head back down the other side. Our hiking gps definitely made life easier that day!
Rivers that didn’t exist on the map were rumbling down the slopes making us hop about and play twister with a backpack to get across the water. Bogging along, we slowly made our way up. Once we reached the top we thought the worst was over. We hid behind a boulder, poured the water out of our beloved Lundhags boots, ate a snack and started our downhill journey. That’s when the storm really hit us. The wind swept us of our feet and every raindrop felt like ice cutting into our skin. After every burst of wind, we got back up again and hurried further downhill. We knew this wasn’t a good place to be, we had to move. Through the mist we could see rapids and waterfalls appearing on every mountain slope. Water was sweeping the ground while the wind removed everything else that was still standing. Fear hit me. All I could think of was getting out of the hell mother nature was throwing at us. We went straight through rivers, hid from the wind when it howled towards us and kept on going downhill until we came to a sudden stand still seeing what lay in front of us. It was a river that swept away all courage, energy and hope left inside of me. Stormy water roaring down the mountain taking everything along that lay in its way. Crossing didn’t feel like an option, but did we really have a choice? We walked up and down along the violent water looking for a better place to get across, but luck had decided to neglect us that day. Going back up the mountain wasn’t an option and pitching our tent became more of a nightmare every second we stood there in doubt. There was nothing else to do than, one way or another, get across that river. Fearing for the worst, we attached one to another using paracord and Jonas entered into the raging water. Slow and steady he moved across leaning towards the water that was fighting to drag him down. Shaking he reached the other side where he fell to his knees, drained by the adrenaline it had taken him to get across. Now it was my turn. I knew this couldn’t go well. I had seen the water nearly reaching up to his chest and I had seen the power it had. Completely numb I entered into the river. The freezing water made me shiver and the power behind it filled my eyes with fear. Slowly I tried to move my feet, one tiny step at a time till suddenly they got swept downstream and I was dragged along. Before my head disappeared below the surface I remember seeing Jonas and wondering: “Is this really how it ends?”, then silence. Probably just a few seconds later I lay face down in a puddle of water that turned out to be the other side of the river. Thanks to the strong rope Jonas had been able to pull me out.
In tears and shivering all over I got back on my feet. It was only hours later that I felt how bruised the left side of my body was. Jonas cut the rope that was tightly wrapped around me and we started the last leg of that day’s journey. Never before did we move so fast. Moving was the only way to keep us warm. We knew there was another river before we came onto a 4×4 track and we knew there should be a bridge, but until we were sure of this we remained in doubt of how this day would end. Silently we realised that if Jonas had been swept down the river it would have been impossible for me to hold on to him. Suddenly life felt fragile. It was hard to apprehend how a simple hike could turn into an event that challenged our deepest being and could have pulled us apart forever.
Everything ended well, there was a bridge to cross that last river and we reached a bothy to take of our soaked clothes and make tea to help our body temperatures rise again. Now we can say it has been an adventure, an adventure we look back on that gives us goosebumps and an adventure that made my legs tremble during the river crossings that followed the coming days, but an adventure non the less.
An adventure far outside of our comfort zone, but a story that will linger in our minds for a lifetime.