Lost in the Jungle

December 9, 2006
Day 437

Kaieteur Trek Day 2

This morning we waited until about 9:30 before one of the miners could paddle us in his canoe to the other side of the river where Craig, Diego, Sally, and I started walking again. It was even more of a full-on jungle adventure than yesterday because the side streams that flowed into the main river were plentiful, and there was virtually no path to follow. At least thirty times, we had to walk across a slippery tree that was suspended at least six feet above the stream to get across. We also had to wade a lot because there were no trees, and a couple times, we even had to swim. I wasn't so lucky to get a canoe to take me along today.

Around midday, I had to walk away from the main river to cross a side stream. Nobody else was in my view because the jungle was so thick, so I tried to take a diagonal back to the main river. I walked over a couple large hills, but I never hit the main river. I shouted out and thought I heard someone near a waterfall, so I headed toward the voice. I shouted some more but got no response. Suddenly, I realized that I was lost in the middle of the jungle.

The canopy was too thick even to see where the sun was, much less any meaningful landmarks, so I continued walking, hoping I'd stumble into something by chance. I came to a small stream, but the water was flowing backwards! That is, the water was flowing away from where I had perceived the main river to be. I followed the water downstream and hit a bigger side stream, this time flowing in a different direction. I sat down, collected my thoughts, and I realized that the hills I had crossed must have affected the watershed and thrown off my sense of direction. I thought back to yesterday and remembered seeing the sun setting upstream from me, which meant that the river flowed from west to east. Therefore, I would have to head south to join the main river again. I followed it until it ran into the main river, but I must have gone way out of my way because it took over an hour to get there. When I got near the main river, I finally got a response to my shouts. The others were out looking for me. It was a scary moment for me that I hope I won't repeat. We'd lost a few hours, but it could've been much worse.

We thought we'd get all the way to the bottom of Kaieteur Falls today, but we didn't even get close. The trail was much worse than expected, the rivers were high and therefore difficult to cross, I got lost for two hours, and it was raining all day. As it was getting dark, it became apparent that we wouldn't even make it to Wartok, and we'd have to camp somewhere in the bush. We spotted a small beach and headed for it. The jungle near the beach was almost too thick to penetrate, but somehow we got there. I set up my tent in the rain and jumped inside. Sally somehow managed to get a fire going in the rain and proved that he was a real bushman, but I wasn't interested in supper. My arms were cut up from the vegetation, my shins were bruised from falling on logs, my pants were completely shredded, and everything was soaking wet. Yet for some reason, this was a really fun day for me.

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