Today’s Miles: 22.4
Total Miles: 117.6
Water rushes around me, numbing my skin, pushing on my legs, rising with each step. The heart of the flow is right in front of me, moving like glass over the rocks. I hesitate, leaning into the current, not sure another inch of water won’t sweep me away.
“Patience,” I whisper to myself.
The sound of my voice pushes against my rising fear, quiets the animal part of my brain that wants to rush forward, that demands immediate escape, creates space for the slow, surgical movement through the water step by deliberate step.
Erna told me the river would be bad. I rarely listen to advice because it’s usually wrong. Hills turn into mountains, steep slopes become cliffs, snowfields grow into glaciers, but Erna talked about the mountains like old friends. Her back yard if full of antlers she’s found wandering through the wild and even the way she walks, faster than me, two steps to my one, told me that her advice would be accurate.
“You may have to swim,” she said.
There was always the road to Lakselv, of course. Pavement for 90 kilometers, bridges over the rivers, no navigation. But there was also the river and the mountains.
Another two steps and I’m in the thick of the flow. I can feel my grip on the ground just holding. I lean into the current. Water rips at my hiking sticks and swirls up my thighs, pressing and pushing.
I never came here to walk roads. They simply connect points and that is not the reason I walk, not to connect points, but to connect moments. Moments like sitting with Erna after breakfast and pouring over a map, pointing at a blue line, then finding myself thigh deep in it seven hours later. Moments like first seeing the river bend through the valley, a thousand melting snowbanks in its flow as it surges toward the ocean. Moments like the last step out of the current, the joy of reaching the far bank, and walking into the mountains as the midnight sun dries my clothes.
Those moments, pieced together, one after another, connected like a constellation of stars stretched across the sky, that is why I walk.