Unexpected Rain and a Camping Nightmare in The Faroese Mountains
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 knew, then, the unexpected rain and Faroe Islands weather
I’m surprised the children’s play tent we brought 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.
How did I end up here?
I made the choice to do a trip like this through the Faroe Islands throughout the entire month of September 2017. Little research was done, little was planned; I only knew that I wanted to spend a month hiking and camping the unexplored islands of the archipelago that made up the country.
The Faroe Islands, it turns out, are fairly accessible by a ferry to Faroe Islands from Denmark. However, not many people take the journey to these tiny islands in the middle of the Atlantic. I was emphatically shocked by the few amount of people I saw on the trails. It is quite a shame because Faroe has some of the most amazing hiking trails in all of Europe.
Kim, a friend who joined me in Faroe for 23 days, and I had already been walking and camping the islands for two weeks. We had experienced some rough weather, but nothing compared to this morning. Actually, from what locals told us, we experienced a rather dry September in Faroe. That was hard to believe as both Kim and I were coming from living a year in Malta where everything is always dry and rain is one of those things that you’re surprised by every time.
I came to the Faroe Islands in search of rain. Oh, how I wish that weren’t true. But, alas, I had had enough of the Maltese sunshine and I was ready to take on proper fall weather. If I only knew that Faroe was much wetter than any “proper fall weather” I have ever experienced, maybe I would have changed my mind about camping for a month.
An otherwise perfect Faroe Islands camping 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 a half an hour or so. We had been out in it for the past three days without any proper shelter 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.
The perfect camp spot
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 to the Bluetooth speaker and put on a concert for every fish that swam in the mountain lake that our camp spot overlooked. I felt pure bliss.
The sun burned the sky orange. I had never seen a sky so completely orange in my life. As I stood on the peak of the mountain, one foot resting upon the cairn that marked the trail, I couldn’t believe the essence of timing and how a whole day of hiking into the unknown could lead us to a scene at the end of the day like the one I was currently standing in front of.
“Can you believe this!?” I shouted to Kim as she ran around getting all the creative sunset pictures one camera could handle.
Later, after the stars had come out, I got in my cozy, cold-weathered sleeping bag and checked the nightly Faroe Islands 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.
Then it came – unexpected rain
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 start 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 Mother Nature telling me,
“You ready to make a bad decision running down this mountain?”
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 rain fall sideways, the fast-paced clean-up and loud tone of voices 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 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.
The Faroe Islands weather got the best of us by unexpected rain, but it will still be one of those camp stories that I’ll always remember!