Out to sea
It was now dark, the going was near impossible. The rain had started again and I was basically stumbling and sliding around in the dark. Blinded by insects in my headlamp light and eaten alive by mosquitoes, attacking my face and ears all the time. Insect repellent did not help as the rain just washed it off. But my legs were the worst, they were been hammered by something I was coming out in bumps all over. I was only managing about 2 km and hour, was it worth it was it worth the risk. Should I stop?
Then once again I heard the roar of water in the darkness, my heart sank. As I got closer, I could see the water starting to build up. I shone my light ahead, there was just a massive reflection of wild water everywhere, I could hardly see to the other side. I would have to sit this one out. I retreated to high ground and sat down, contemplating my next move, it was 1:30 in the morning. The longer I sat the colder I go in my wet gear, I had to keep moving. Eventually I began to shiver, there was a bit of fear setting in, hypothermia was brewing. There was no help anywhere, I had to do something. So I decided to try the river, the rain had stopped for quite some time, I had to get warmth in my body. My brother Glenn had been phoning me constantly, keeping me motivated and warning me of the conditions I was heading into. I had lost signal, he tried about 20 times to call, his last 2 texts read: (which I only received afterwards) “Now don’t take any chances with the rivers, a big storm is brewing, rather sit it out- get back safe” the next one was “Are you awake and running”.
Slowly I edged in, but it just got deeper, eventually waist high it stopped and I waded into the current, foot by foot I edged in. The darkness seemed to trap me; I had no real idea of what was going on around me except what was in the beam of my head lamp. Trying hard to control my panic and fear I edged across. The water was tugging at my legs, every now and then debris would hit me or something would entangle around my waist. I took another step, but this time my foot never grounded, the water was now just too strong and it swept it away, with this I over balanced and over I went, twisting swirling down with the current I was swept.
Trees were hitting me from every side; I was totally disorientated as I bobbed up and down trying to stay afloat. My rucksack had now filled with water and was pulling me down, my cameras, phone everything destroyed. The thoughts began to flash through my mind, mixed with panic, fear and the instinct to fight the current, do I dump my back pack. There was nothing I could do, to fight back would exhaust me and I would drown, I had to think and quick, I only had seconds, as the next fear was waterfall.
Trees just flashed by as the river now began to twist, every now and then my light would catch the bank, if I could somehow hit the trees on the bank, I would have a chance, but which bank was it. I only had the energy left for one attempt as it would take all my strength to get out of this.
Suddenly there was a blinding pain as my ribs crunched into something, branches were every where, I began to grab blindly, but everything just broke as it was rotten, as I twisted away I gave one last lunge and got hold of something supple. I rolled over and grabbed with my other arm, straightening my legs to create less drag in the current I pulled myself into the tree, wrapping both my arms around a bigger branch I lifted one leg up and wrapped it around it. My backpack was now creating massive drag in the current and was pulling me down, if a branch caught it I would not have the strength left to fight back. That would be it I would be washed out to sea in the storm. With one massive last ditch heave I managed to roll over and up onto the branch, there I clung, winded and exhausted, just inches above the cauldron of flood water. I thought out aloud and shouted into the darkness “Please, please I have got to somehow get out of here”.