Total Miles: 368
A ridge ten miles from Máze – July 12, 2016
I woke and walked, pushing aside sore muscles and tired eyes, afraid to stay still, unsure how long the blue sky would hold sway over the land. Even as I packed my tent, hints of clouds rose in the West.
The trail dropped into bogs and lakes. The land became a giant sponge soaked and heavy. Water lurked under each step, never fair from the surface. It spilled through in shallow lakes and grassy marshes, in muddy dips of trail, in rivers that drained in all directions. In low places the land felt like an illusion of solid ground, like it was really floating on top of some giant pool and every step threatened to sink it.
Shin deep in the bogs, I found cloudberries, still red and unripe, but there, no longer flowers. I stared at them and wondered how many days before they would ripen, how long before they would turn golden-yellow and I could pluck them as I walked, a reward to balance the wet, slow work of crossing bogs.
I’d gone from not knowing they existed, to peering at every plant trying to figure out which they were, to finding them scattered everywhere, unripened but close. But as I stepped past I knew they meant more than something to look forward to. They meant the seasons are changing. Time is passing. The heart of summer is almost here. Fall and winter waiting behind it.
I need to move south.
The blue sky disappeared, devoured by thin clouds, hour by hour, piece by piece, until the sky transformed into a play of light and dark.
I walked on, coming to a ridge near midnight, the low sun setting the clouds ablaze with a purple fire as the first drops of rain fell on my tent.