20 May 12: Zvikovec to a Rock Wall

Medieval pilgrims had two saints looking out for them, St John (Jakob) and St Roch (Rochus). Me too, except mine are named Stefan and Rothko. The good news is that I’m alive, nothing is broken, and I have my wallet and passport intact.

Here’s the bad news. I was walking the section from Zvikovec to Liblin (which you now have my permission to bus around until they get this track rerouted). Already, coming out of Chlum, the track had made a very steep (steps required but not universally installed) descent to the Berounka and (pull yourself up by the tree roots) ascent. The next descent started off typically, then the track ducked into a wood and became both unmarked and poorly maintained. I was trying to match up my gps track with the faint and intermittent traces I was seeing on the ground. Meanwhile the slope was becoming steadily steeper; lots of side-slipping and fetching up on well-rooted trees. Suddenly the trail and the ground under my feet disappeared. So this was an uncontrolled, on-my-butt, slide down a forested ravine, about 15 feet I would estimate, something like a 60 or 70 degree slope. This left me messy but functioning at an almost-dry brook. The gps track and the faint traces on the ground led up the other side, so I climbed up a bit and then the ground gave way a second time for another 15-foot slide, back to the brook. The brook channel started looking like the safest route, and I could see the river below me. So I was successfully following it, until I came to an almost dry waterfall, about 8 feet. Somehow I managed to pick my way down it with no further slides and reached the river bank.

My heart sank when I realized I was trapped by the riverside. The rock walls came down to the river both upstream and downstream. The only way out was going to be by boat. Meanwhile, although I was thoroughly scraped up on the extremities, there didn’t seem to be any medical emergency.
No head contact at all, nothing deep enough to require stitches.

Let’s see what my options are here. I could call home in the US, have them relay my gps coordinates to the Embassy in Prague … That could take a day or two. I could call my new friend in Vienna, get her to contact Czech emergency services in English … That wasn’t sounding promising either. My host last night spoke English pretty well, had boats, and I had his phone number in my guidebook. Could I get the iPhone to make a local call? Yes!

As it turned out, he was the head of the local fire and rescue unit. It required the remainder of the afternoon, all the way to sunset, to get found (river makes many bends and don’t ever underestimate the value of having an article of day-glo orange clothing to wave around) first by the on-foot team and then by the boat squad. Then his wife, who just happened to be a nurse, did a fine job of soap and water wash, Betadine scrub, and dressing application. Then they fed me dinner and tucked me into bed. Truly I am lucky to be in one piece and have connected with such caring people.

I’ll be here two nights, planning on bed rest and then seeing how comfortable and mobile I am. Best case is knocking off the rest of this week, bus-train to Germany and pick up walking there for two weeks. Worst case is changing air return to sooner, train to Paris to collect my luggage, then fly home.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone


7 responses to “20 May 12: Zvikovec to a Rock Wall

  1. Checking in for updates…wondering how its going.

  2. Geez. Thank goodness you’re in one piece.

  3. Oh, I am sorry. But you are amazing resourceful and I am glad you were able to keep your wits about you. (not suprised…just glad you were able to.) Get better soon and I am thinking about you and will pray for your speedy recovery…

  4. Pegge Ashcroft

    Whew! Thank our Goddess for all that great fancy equipment you have! And we thank her for your not-TOO-bad falls, and we thank her for your kind companions!! What a lovely and comforting thing to be tucked into bed by a caring fellow human being. I am very grateful for your well-being.
    Cheers, Pegge

    p.s. You have a gift for writing! It is a treat to read!

  5. Sally Billington

    Have been following closely since I returned home. Am certainly happy that your guardian angels are keeping their eyes on you. You are so brave. Looking forward to more reports. Sally

  6. Oh woe, Rachel! I was really dismayed to read about your mishap that led to your need for rescue. But the fates, saints, whatever were kind to you by sending two such excellent rescuers! You could hardly have asked for better! Anyway, please do not leave us hanging. Let us know what you finally decide to do based on how you are feeling in the next couple of days as you assess your physical well-being. Deficient or absent trail markers seem to be your biggest hazard really. Anyway, sending good thoughts your way, Lois

  7. Well, I’m pretty darn glad you are okay. It’ll make a great story and restores your faith in people, but I’m guessing you would just as soon skipped this particular adventure!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s