When breaking an ankle is turned into a positive experience

Ingibjörg Gréta grateful for having good people in her life.

Ingibjörg Gréta grateful for having good people in her life.

Ingi­björg Gréta is a woman who loves hiking and being in the great outdoors. Her new favourite place in the world is Hornstrandir and she had planned three out of four long hikes there this summer. However, things do not always go according to plan. It all changed when she slipped down a slippery stone and fell and broke her ankle.

“My friend’s family have a house in Hlöðuvík in Hornstrandir and it has been my good fortune to be able to enjoy staying there whith her and other good girlfriends for a few summers. This summer we had the idea to end our stay in Hlöðuvík by hiking over to Reykjarfjörður, but then we decided to sail into the fjord instead,” says Ingibjörg Gréta about the reason to go to Reykjafjörður.

She says that she and her girlfriends are basically in the luxury league when it comes to hiking. They are not quite ready for carrying all their gear on their backs. There were 18 of them who went to Reykjafjörður this summer, some of which did not know each other, but all bonded and enjoyed their time in the vicinity of Drangajökull . However, on the second day of the hike Ingibjörg Gréta stumbled on a slippery stone and broke her ankle.

„Either she has broken a bone or she is an absolute wimp “

“We walked all the way to Drangajökull glacier and were on the way back when we were passing a stony terrain that was very wet. I thought to myself that I should tread carefully so I wouldn’t break my leg. As I was holding that thought I slipped on a stone and just looked at my leg turn 90 degrees and then I just screamed. Somehow you get filled with some kind of a primal force in a situation like this and things somehow work themselves out.  Two of the women in the group had pain killers and an aluminium blanket, the nurse in the group could confirm a broken ankle so the Coast Guard helicopter would take off to the rescue. Talking to them the nurse said this brilliant sentence: Either she has broken a bone or she is an absolute wimp. I can, with a clear conscience, verify that I have a broken ankle and therefore no wimp,” says Ingibjörg Gréta and laughs.

“But jokes aside, the main heroes in this story are the residents of Reykjarfjörður who made a stretcher out of the materials available at the scene and they could carry me off the rocks and into shelter.”

Sigurjón Davíðsson holds one of the oars, and Sigurður Þ. …

Sigurjón Davíðsson holds one of the oars, and Sigurður Þ. Stefánsson and Sigríður Sía Jónsdóttir hold the personal flotation device. Ásgímur Smári Þorsteinsson stands close to Sigurjón and Ingi Þór Tómasson. Photo/BjarneyLúðvíksdóttir

Difficult circumstances

In a video that was shot at the scene of the accident you can see how the locals made the stretcher out of life jackets and oars, and how they fastened Ingibjörg Gréta’s leg to one oar and then lifted her up unto a quad bike to take her to the house.

“I didn’t think much at this point other than focusing on keeping my leg still, but when I see the video that the documentary filmmaker Bjarney Lúðvíksdóttir shot, I am filled with awe and great gratitude over how they managed to rescue me in spite of the difficult circumstances.”

She says that the wait for the helicopter went fast because the group kept coming up with entertainment, singing and dancing and cracking jokes.

“I even got “Songs for patients” live, which has to be the top,” she says and smiles. (“Songs for patients” was a famous radio program in Iceland where people could call in songs to send to those dealing with ailments in hospitals.)

Waiting for the helicopter. Ingibjörg Gréta and Erla Jóhannesdóttir who …

Waiting for the helicopter. Ingibjörg Gréta and Erla Jóhannesdóttir who is a resident of Rykjarfjörður. Photo/BjarneyLúðvíksdóttir

Saved money for a stretcher

The group decided to start a fundraising to buy a stretcher, braces and a substantial first aid kit for the locals in Reykjarfjörður, because this is not the first accident and sadly probably not the last that hikers experience in this area.

“We felt helpless in this situation and decided to do something about it and raise money to make it easier for the residents in Reykjarfjörður to deal with the next accident. The fundraising was a hit and it only took two days to raise the enough money and then some,” she says.

Accidents are an opportunity

Ingi­björg Gréta says that accidents are an opportunity and there are a lot of things she is getting from having had this bad fortune this summer.

“Breaking an ankle and somehow being forced to stop and be dependent on others doing things you never think about normally, is a strange but also an amazing experience. The balance in the home shifts, the body is dealing with a lot of things and the love and caring you experience is unbelievable. I have been almost painfree after the operation. I have been fasting to clean my body and have focused on healthy living, but I also have learned to ask for help, and i have received it in abundance. There are also the mental highs and lows which are a lesson in themselves.”

The video below, albeit in Icelandic, was shot at the scene of the accident. It starts with Ingibjörg Gréta saying that wearing a lipstick is a must when travelling with a helicopter.

Prayed to Ástríður and vowed to tell her story

Ingibjörg Gréta said that the next weeks will be dedicated to physical training because she is adamant that she will visit Hornstrandir again next summer.

“In the middle of all this we prayed to Ástríður and vowed if everything went well, then we would sing for her and tell her story. Ástríður was a working maid in Reykjarfjörður who got pregnant and killed herself by drowning in the sea because of the shame. As a result, she was buried in unconsecrated soil in the fjord. The women sang for her the Icelandic song "Augun mín og augun þín" (My Eyes and yours)  after I had been moved by the helicopter and now I am telling her story. Thank you Ástríður,” says Ingibjörg Gréta.

Here you can listen to the song "Augun mín og augun þín". The song is by Jón Ásgeirsson (1928) but the lyrics by Rósa Guðmundsdóttir, called Skáld-Rósa ( (1795–1855).

The arrangement and performance is by Ylja.

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