Along a curve of road – June 21, 2016
Today’s Miles: 16.9
Total Miles: 23.9
I stumble up a ridge of broken rock. Boulders shift under my feet. Edges, corners, and points press against my soles.
All the little muscles hurt. The tendons and ligaments tire of pulling my feet into place, of pressing into uneven ground, of reacting to shifting stones.
Nothing is flat. The ice has smashed the earth to pieces, wedging into cracks, freezing tiny fissures apart, leaving splinters and fragments of once mighty stone.
I struggle to the ridge, breathing heavy, legs like lead, telling myself that the second day is always hard, that thru-hiking will always be a war of attrition, an accumulation of tears, bruises, and strains stitched back together each night, that it always comes down to the will to wake up and do it again.
I glance back. The tip of Kinnarodden is still visible, far in the distance, rising above the grey sheet of the Arctic Ocean.
I know I won’t see it again, this is a last glance at the start. Ten more steps and it will disappear behind me.
I feel the soreness in my back, the aching in my legs, the cold that never leaves my skin.
I will break, but I will heal. Then I’ll break again, but I will heal again. Break and heal, break and heal, each time stronger than the last until my legs are iron and my lungs infinite.
“That is the difference between you and me,” I tell the shattered stone. “I heal.”
“Until you don’t,” the stone whispers back. “What then?”
“Then I’ll stop,” I say, “but until then, I just have to keep going.”
Ten more steps and Kinnarodden will disappear and I’ve reached that first horizon to stare forward to the next.