Today, we’re celebrating Scapa Fest’s First Birthday. It’s been a year since I made my biggest, wildest and most beautiful dream a (legal) reality, but that’s not quite where the story begins…
A lot of people ask me how was Scapa Fest born? It’s a long story that starts in Iceland in 2014.
In June 2014, I hopped on a plane to Reykjavik from Edinburgh Airport, with this wild idea to cycle to Djupavik (“deepest fjord” in Icelandic), in the Westfjords of Iceland, and back. I had 8 days to cover a distance of 972km. I had done some research about the Westfjords region, contacted people there to ask about the road conditions, so from the airport I made my way to the harbour in Reykjavik to pick up the bike I had hired online, bought 1 kilo of smoked salmon and some crackers, and I set off, light-hearted and beaming with excitement.
The next 8 days of my life unfolded, on the surface, each identical to the other: I woke up, ate smoked salmon + crackers, packed up my tent and bags, cycled for 6 hours, rested for 2h in hot springs on the road side and ate salmon and crackers, cycled another 6 hours, set up camp, ate smoked salmon + crackers, slept for 8h under the Midnight sun. But on the inside, the biggest, most spectacular revolution was taking place, one that transformed me into the person I am today, and eventually led to what would become Scapa Fest.
So what happened on the road, between Reykjavik and Djupavik, in June 2014?
“Somehow, on that never-ending dirt track, I connected deeply with my true self, learnt to surrender to nature, and unlocked my power.”
It’s humbling to be on the road, with little protection from the elements, day in, day out. In the beginning, my body was struggling to adapt to the near-constant daylight. My mind wanted to carry on without stopping, because there was no sunset to worry about, no need to find shelter before dark. But very quickly, my body surrendered to exhaustion. I collapsed on the side of the road, crying in my hands, wondering why I thought it would be a good idea to embark on such an adventure. I set up my tent and fell asleep immediately, in my clothes and shoes. 8 or 10 hours later, I woke up, rested and calm, made a fire, ate some food, and decided to listen to my body and not the sun.
My footprint, that week, was so light. My body was perfectly conditioned and tuned to the terrain and the weather. I was neither too cold, nor too warm. I created no rubbish. I left no trace. I was eating just enough to keep me going. I felt completely and exactly aligned with nature, perfectly balanced with my surroundings. Somehow, on that never-ending dirt track, I connected deeply with my true self, learnt to surrender to nature, and unlocked my power.
Everything became possible. And by that I mean, I began to trust myself so deeply and confidently, that that self-love made everything possible. I felt so loved by the Earth, so safe and protected. I was able to cycle close to 1000 kilometres in the mountainous Westfjords of Iceland, in 8 days, with very little training apart from my daily cycles, on a ill-fitting bike hired in Reykjavik, and 8kg of equipment + food in my bag. Not without fear. Not without pain. Not without doubt. Not without tears. But with complete faith that I was exactly where I needed to be for something important to happen.
Everyday, I caught glimpses of whales in the deep fjords, picked up driftwood that had made its way on the beaches from Siberia, slept with the unlikely but very real threat of polar bears drifting on icebergs from Greenland on my mind, listened to the horses galloping around my tiny tent during the “night”, cycled through a storm lashing out as I cross a causeway. I let my voice rise up and sing in the disused herring oil tanks where Sigur Ros once recorded music. I even cycled on an airport runway to find a hidden track to a even more hidden hot spring where I spent one of the most beautiful nights of my life, bathing in a hot spring on a lava field, overlooking the artic sea.
That night, a spark started to toss and turn inside of my heart.
I asked myself: what is it that we live so statically? What is it that we don’t let our bodies do what they are designed for? What is it that we live in environments that numb our senses? What is that we consider ourselves separate from the trees, the soil, our animal neighbours and plants?
That night, I stood in the middle of a perfectly crafted triangle of my own mind-body balance, my own bold and beautiful adventure, and a newly and profoundly felt environmental awareness. It was an experience that would change how I lived forever, and, that day, I felt compelled to grow it and share it with as many people as possible. This was the seed of Scapa Fest.
To be continued…
Clem | Founder of Scapa Fest