Backpacker Camps During Rain Season in the Faroe Islands

Who knew all tents weren’t waterproof?

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

** Republished from 2017 **

When I woke up, the tent was on top of me — almost literally. The wind was howling atop Loysingafjall Mountain almost 2,000 feet above sea level.

I’m surprised our children’s play tent had withstood the wind to that point. Surely, it would not be long before the force of the gusts would snap one of the structural rods.

I was in the tent, curled in a ball, trying to avoid the water moat that had became standing water on the inside of all four walls. I had learned the hard way that not all tents are waterproof (I’m an idiot, I already knew that, though).

The wind sounded cold outside, but, at least, I was for the most part protected. As I was laying in my sleeping bag, I started dreading the fact that I wasn’t cozied up underneath three layers of feathery-soft, thick comforters watching Netflix in the comfort of my own home.

The reality of my situation was that I’d need to get out of my warm sleeping bag, open up the tent door to the cold wind blowing, and accept that I was going to be soaking wet from the rainstorm by seven o’clock in the morning.

An otherwise perfect camp experience ruined

It was the perfect evening. We had just hiked for the majority of the day up in the mountains around the town of Vestmanna in the Faroe Islands. We hadn’t seen another human being since we left the town’s limits four hours prior.

I was hiking barefoot and talking to Faroese sheep; hopping creeks, drinking from fresh mountain streams, and rolling in the soft Faroese grass. I was really soaking up the outdoor adventure vibe.

My friend, Kim, and I had been scouting out good camp spots for the past half hour or so. We had been out in it for the past three days and were starting to understand Faroese weather tendencies (the tendency is there are no tendencies) and what kind of camping spot we needed to find out in the wild.

We found the perfect spot just in time to set up camp and enjoy a sunset right in front of us. It was only us and the sheep. There was nobody within miles. I danced around our camp stove and put on a concert for every fish that swam in the mountain lake that our camp spot overlooked. I felt pure bliss.

I got in my cozy, cold-weathered sleeping bag and checked the nightly weather forecast once more before closing my eyes. I fell asleep to a still night, stars partially out — which is a rarity in the overcast Faroe Islands, with the sounds of Pink Floyd filling the calm silence in my mind.

Nothing can describe my feeling when I heard the first wave of rain slap our tent around five o’clock the next morning. Up in the mountains, the rain blows in the strong wind, often bringing short waves of rain every other second. This is the worst kind of rain, especially when it’s less than fifty degrees outside in the early morning.

I stayed in my tent; in denial that it was actually raining. The forecast still called for a clear morning, so I laid awake, waiting for the rain to stop. Meanwhile, I felt the wind start to pick up and the floor of the tent started to get moist. Our heavy backpacks lay in each corner of the tent acting as the stakes that I didn’t pack.

For two hours, we waited; telling ourselves every other five minutes that the rain was bound to stop soon. At one point, it wasn’t denial anymore because we accepted our fucked reality; we were just lazy.

When I finally started to motion towards a quick camp clean-up and scurry down the unknown part of the slippery mountain, I started getting frustrated.

I exited the tent to an immediate burst slap of cool rainwater to the face as if it was telling me, “Good morning, Fucker”.

I started yelling over the thudding rain on our rain jackets and Kim probably took it as anger towards her. The way the wind was making the rainfall sideways and the fast-paced clean-up and loud tone of voice reminded me of a scene straight from the script of “The Perfect Storm”.

Even if it didn’t seem like it as we were getting annihilated by rain, we probably set the world record for the quickest camp tear down. We had to get down the mountain in this shit and I was having what some may call a bad morning.

We weren’t even sure how far Vestmanna was from us and if there was a proper hiking trail or if we’d have to carefully make our way down the slippery slope without a trail. Luckily, we managed to make it down safely as the rain seemed to lighten up soon after we got all packed up — go figure.

What turned into a relaxing, rainy Sunday morning at a small Faroese café started as a morning from hell. Luckily, we eventually made it to a road where we hitched a ride in the rain back to Vestmanna.

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