Tonight’s my first real night alone in the wilderness. I’m freaking out. I’m swimming in a mixture of sweat and marsh water seeping through my tent floor. I’m miserable.
“Camping alone sounds cool, but right now all I can think about are the sounds outside”
I distract myself by calculating how many hours until my tent fills up with water like the titanic engine room. Until the soft, marshy earth swallows my pitiful tent all the way to middle earth.
I’m starving but I’m too scared to get out of my tent to make dinner. I should win an Oscar for the dramatic performance in my head. I mean, there is food less than 3 meters away. It’s not so hard. But monsters don’t have opposable thumbs. Which means they can’t open zips. So I think I should stay in here.
▣ Highly recommend ▣ Boring but safe ▣ Shit. Boring, strenuous & dangerous ▣ Incomplete
What I thought’d happen
I’d follow a forested trail into the woods and watch the stars in solitude.
What actually happened
I was incredibly alone and scared inside a wet, mosquito ridden tent.
With my luggage tied down, audio books and everything ready, I set off around 3:30pm. I was heading to Rjukan today, which is a slight detour on the way to Lysefjord.
For the first hour or so I road the E18. Absolute hell. But I guess motorways at peak hour are never fun. Then I took the E134, which was slightly better but still monotonous and straight.
I veered off the E134 and took the exit to Rjukan. Almost immediately the road starts winding through the most amazing scenery.
Imagine driving on a windy road, all alone, snaking up and down forested mountain passes. One one side you zoom through the shadow of a deep purple cliff face, sharp and unevenly cut, stretching from the road to meters above you. The other side – sprawling views. Pine trees nestle the edge of the slopes, gently leading down to a glistening lake. The air is crisp and earthy.
Gambling, and losing.
I arrived at Rjukan when there was still a few hours left of light, so decided to press on a little further. Bad call.
The road after this point takes you below Hardangervidda national park, right past Møsvatn (lake), and theres nothing but nothing but spongey, watery moss as far as the eye can see. Moss so pillowy soft that you’ll sink to your kneecaps if you walk on it.
I was tired and cold, having packed my extra jackets away in hard to reach places. *Sigh. And seeing as it was my first night trying to wild camp, I felt that finding a campsite was gaining urgency. So after scouting a few unsuitable places and doing a few laps up and down the highway I finally picked the best of the worst, and pulled over behind a little garage/cabin.
The cabin had a sign that said ‘private parking, vehicles will be towed’, but the place was deserted so I figured it’d be fine. Who’s going to refuse a cold, exhausted human being?…Let alone a girl all alone in the wild.
Once fear gets a hold of me it changes my perception of everything.
I was walking back to my tent when I noticed deep brown stains on the gravel leading away into the grass. A chill ran up my spine. It was blood. It had to be. Could it be an animal? A human? I was going to be butchered by an axe wielding maniac. And I’d make headlines. I’d be famous. My blog would go viral. The blog that had no content. The poor girl that thought she could travel alone. Murdered on her first day. The shame.
I started weighing up the price of my life, whether packing up and re-setting my tent elsewhere was worth my life. And if it was oh-so-easy to pack everything up and relocate, I would have. I walked across the adjacent road to analyse my situation and admired the sunset on the swampy plains. I thought how special it was to observe the other-wordly transformation of nature in front of me. My own personal show. A spontaneous performance just for me. I didn’t want to leave.
I turned back, crossed the road and crunched my way over to my tent through the loose pavement gravel. Then I noticed the drips on the other side of the garage. It was wood stain. The zealous garage owner had recently refreshed his wood work. *Facepalm.
What I learned today:
- When it gets dark and you’re tired and you’ve no idea what you’re doing, you make really bad calls. Forgive yourself in advance.
- Don’t start thinking about death when you’re alone in the woods.