Friday, September 26, 2014

The Part About Getting Lost

Here is an excerpt of an email I sent to my husband--after I'd survived getting lost leaving the Sörmlandsleden Trail.

The trail was perfect. The weather was perfect. Sleeping at night watching my fire die down was perfect. The only problem was today, my last day, which should have been glorious. The map was spot on--until I left the trail and tried to walk to Gnesta. I got up at 6:15 in order to break camp and get to the road. My directions said 14 km on the road, which is a lot. I was hoping to catch a ride.

Actually the first km was fine, everything on the map. I had visions of being EARLY for the 11:45 train. Then everything went haywire. I kept trying to follow the map of where the road led to the bigger road, but it dead ended. Literally, just stopped. There were logging road tracks and I tried, but they were awful. So I went back to where I made that turn. Probably backtracking a mile. It didn't make sense but I tried another gravel road, thinking that must be it. But it only took me back to the trail--just further down. So I went back again, finally agreeing with myself that it must be the horrible logging road I needed to take. Now I'm probably wasted and hour going back and forth. I went back to where the gravel road dead ended and took the awful logging road. I was falling down in mud and sloshing through muck. 

I finally had enough. I went back again and saw another logging road. I told myself I need to get to that road--so I made up my mind to follow this one to the end.

It came to an end and I wasn't going to go back. I did a big no-no, I started bushwacking through the forest with no idea of where I was going. I just knew there was a road somewhere.

Even if I could call for help, even if my phone worked=how do you call for help in Sweden, and where was I?

I got down to another lake. Which one was this on my map? (There were a LOT of lakes.) It was probably 10 a.m and I'd been walking non-stop for almost 3 hours. I was at my breaking point. Then I saw orange strips on the trees which meant I'd somehow reconnected with the trail--just further along, again. If that was the case, and I kept going I should come to a road and then I'd get off the trail and try to find the road.

After half an hour I got off the trail and kept following the road until I got to the bigger road. Glory, but I was so very, very far away now from Gnesta. And I was walking in the wrong direction. It was hard-packed dirt and no one came for a long time. I flagged a car down and the woman said yes I was on the right road and I was going in the wrong direction. I asked if there was much traffic and she said no.

So at least I was still in Sweden. I started walking and walking and walking. I hadn't taken any breaks and hardly any time to drink or eat. At noon I knew I'd missed the early train, but I was going toward Gnesta. It was hot and I was starting to fall apart. I prayed for a car to come, there had been no traffic for about an hour, when a car came going in my direction. I flagged him down. It was an older man who spoke no English, but HE DROVE ME TO GNESTA!!!!

I got there with 50 min to spare until the train came that would take me to the ferry.

By the time I took 3 trains and walked to the ferry I was the absolutely last passenger on the ship. They closed the doors behind me.

Oh my God. What a miracle.

All in all with all the wandering back and forth I probably did close to 15 miles walking in 4.5 hours.
P.S. Google Earth vindicated my experience. The logging roads weren't on the map, neither was the road that deadended. The moral of this story: BE SURE TO GET THE NEWEST VERSION OF THE TRAIL MAP BEFORE SETTING OUT.

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