Voices. Black night. I wake up. The rain drums a regular beat on the tent. The voices sound stressed out – “Flood!” Not again! We have to bring all of our things into the forest one more time. I am immediately awake.
Luckily Kai said last evening that the water could rise rapidly, and we should already have our backpacks ready. So I pack my sleeping bag into the watertight sleeve and fold my mat together. We all leave the tents quickly. Like during the last flood, we divide ourselves into groups – one group clears the kitchen equipment to the higher ground in the forest, where we rebuild our new camp, and the other group takes down the tents and brings them along with backpacks, mats, and personal items into the forest.
The path into the dryer areas (not really dry – it’s raining in sheets) is much further than on the last sand bank, and we have to cross a small tributary that was a tiny little trickle yesterday, but has now grown into a wide and in some places deep river. Because of the darkness (it’s just after 3 in the morning) we couldn’t see very much and oriented ourselves by looking at the others’ headlamps. After a number of trips back and forth between the sand bank and the forest, always at least three of us at a time in the water, we finally complete the mission. It is more difficult yet we are faster than during the last flood. Practice makes perfect!
After everything is secured, we cover our things with tarps and build a few tents again in the forest as good as we can amongst the trees and bushes and during the downpour. We change into dry clothes and crawl into our comfortable, warm sleeping bags just as dark night begins to creep away into the light.
Once more the wild nature has shown us its raw side, but our well-rehearsed team managed everything perfectly. At around 12 noon we all wake up and crawl out of the tents. We try to make a fire. It’s difficult but with Sami’s Vaseline-saturated cotton we manage to spark a warm flame. We strengthen ourselves with tasty bagels and bacon for breakfast.
In the meantime the rain has stopped. Slowly the sun comes out and the water has already fallen significantly. So that means: back to the sand bank! We are happy to go back because it is sunnier and dryer, and there are far fewer mosquitos! In addition, there is barely any space for the tents in between the trees that are still dripping and the uneven and thickly overgrown ground.
First everything has to dry out: We hang the wet tents and tarps, the sodden clothes and shoes in the bushes and small trees on the sand bank and hang up clotheslines. It is difficult to set up the tents and tarps that we had set up a day earlier already, but after a couple of hours that too is done. Lucky for us – the sun comes out, to help us. We take an inventory of our possessions… Everything’s here!
Just in case something like this happens again, we leave our food and backpacks in the forest and build a tarp and two small tents there. If there is another flood, at least we will be faster with our move.
Unfortunately, due to all the moving and rebuilding we don’t have much time for our projects on this day.
We enjoy the evening around the campfire, and again it starts to rain, but that does not bother us. We are sitting on dry land, next to a warm fire, full and content with a warm meal in our stomachs and we know: in an emergency we can escape to the higher ground in the forest. And in the tents – in the meantime also dry – our warm sleeping bags are waiting for us!
SMS from Canada
#1 Johannes – being flooded out at 3am– this time a perfectly organized move into the forest, with a much higher level of difficulty – Clouds rise and open up the view on the glacier – moving back onto the now-dry sand bank around midday – everything is there.
Translated by Pilar Wolfsteller
Photos: © Wilderness International