Kilometres walked: 32km / Total distance: 737km / Elevation gain: 1466m / Elevation loss: 1650m / Time walked: 8h31min
Remember how I said yesterday that surely no one will come by in the middle of the night?
Well, I was wrong.
Last night I woke up around 02:30 because people were walking through the field where I was sleeping: from the forest on the edge of the field to the track leading up to the house or farm ahead. I’m not sure what woke me up first: a flashlight moving across the night or the sound of a woman talking.
At least, I assumed it was several people, because I heard someone speak and they seemed to move repeatedly across the field. Maybe there was some event going on? Maybe mushroom picking at night is a thing? It’s almost hunting season too, but hunters would be more quiet and not wave their lights around so much I think.
Too afraid to go out of the tent and see what’s going on I just roll around, hope they don’t see me or at least don’t care that I’m there, and try to fall back asleep. That’s difficult, because by now I have realized that I really need to go to the bathroom. I wait until the sound of the voice drifts away, -this woman is really on a monologue now-, and try to quietly zip open the tent to do my thing. I still see a light flashing around, but now further up the track. When I’m back inside my tent the light and babbling sound again come closer. I’ve left the door of the tent partially open and can see that it’s only one woman walking, waving her light around, talking to herself.
It’s 03:00 in the morning. What the hell?
In all my years of wildcamping I have rationalized away my fears by telling myself that the odds of other people walking around the woods at night are pretty slim, and the odds of them being axe-murderers, rapists or both are smaller still. This woman is probably neither, but the fact that she’s out there talking to herself is not exactly comforting.
Her light has passed over my tent several times now, so I assume she has seen me, but she hasn’t really come closer. This leaves two possibilities: she doesn’t care that I’m there and I’m good, or she’s crafting an elaborate plan to murder me in my sleep in which case I’m fucked. I have one thing going for me: she hasn’t seen me, so she doesn’t know who is in the tent. I might be a big burly dude, or I might be two people, or I might be the axe murderer. With one ear focusing on the direction of the sound (she’s still talking to herself) I devise a plan of attack, just in case, which involves my trekking poles and my pathetic Opinel knife that keeps gettjng jammed and fighting skills I don’t really have.
I’m not sure how but eventually I fall asleep again.
My alarm goes off at 06:30 and I wake up groggy and exhausted. It’s still dark out. I don’t want to use my headlamp because it would be visible from the house up the track so I fumble around in the dark as I stuff away my sleeping bag, get dressed, and eventually make coffee.
It’s a beautiful morning. The sky is clear but fog and small whisps of clouds are hanging over the meadow.
As I’m sipping my coffee I hear a familiar voice. It’s the woman from last night! She’s standing at the edge of the field looking at me. She’s still talking to herself.
She waves back and disappears.
I pack my tent and I don’t know if it’s the coffee or the fact that she’s there and we now have definitely acknowledged each other’s presence, but I suddenly feel very alert and awake despite having an absolutely shitty night. Is she already there? Is she still there? Is her plan to murder me so elaborate that it took the rest of the night to prepare and now finally my time has come?
There is only one way to find out. I pack up my tent and head towards the trail, which is in the same direction as I last saw the woman.
Rounding the corner there is a frail little old lady, wrinkled face, hunched back, walking stick in one hand, looking out over the river. She’s talking to herself. No axe or chainsaw to be seen.
“Bon día”, I say fake-cheerfully.
“Bon día”, she mumbles in my general direction before continuing talking to the river.
With a sigh of relieve I follow my path. Close call.
Some pictures of today!