Europe N to S: Walking the Nordkapp Tunnel (7/4/16)


A few miles past the tunnel – July 4, 2016

Today’s Miles: 13.9

Total Miles: 234.4

The tunnel opens like the curved mouth of some giant worm, a thick metal gate for the teeth, orange-yellow lights glowing along its spine and dropping away in the darkness. Ten steps in, the wind dies away and I begin to descend under the ocean.

I glance back at the glowing mouth as walk, watching the sunlight shrink and disappear. It feels like I will never see it again. 

The walls close in tight around me, rock and plastered concrete. There is no where to go but forward or back. No side to side. No turning. No open space to let your mind breathe.

The air is still. The only sounds are my echoing footsteps and the drip of water seeping in through the rock.

“Just seven kilometers,” I tell myself.

I notice things I’d never see from a car. Numbers painted on the walls. Yellow and orange and white. Arrows, lines, symbols I don’t understand. Strange sensors plugged into underground cables. Water leaking, dripping through the seams of concrete. Slimy puddles. The yellowish glow of the lights. The flickering bulbs that sometimes disappear and leave me in a patch of darkness.

I pass an emergency pullout with a yellow phone booth that glows in the darkness. A sign tells me I’ve walked one kilometer and have six to go. Down, down, down I go. My breath clouds in the cool air. Nothing else moves. The earth feels heavy above me, like the weight of it is pressing down.

A roar echoes through the tunnel, louder and louder, a distant car racing towards me. I slip into a rocky crevice and hide from the light as it roars past and the echo disappears into the darkness.

An hour passes and the tunnel flattens out then begins to rise. I imagine the sea above me, the hundreds of feet of rock and water pressing down. Another car roars past. Then a bus. I climb slowly up, step by step, following the orange-yellow lights, rising back toward the sky.

Then I see light, the white, brilliant light of daylight spilling in through the distance. I race towards it, the sun pulling me out of the darkness until I stand in a green field, fresh air filling my lungs, the sky above and the earth below again.

One thought on “Europe N to S: Walking the Nordkapp Tunnel (7/4/16)

  1. What a fascinating tunnel to walk, not ride! I love that sense of freedom at the end…guess you’re not a “digger”!

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