Today’s Miles: 13.7
Total Miles: 1,609
Near Östfjället – September 15, 2016
Today’s Miles: 17.1
Total Miles: 1,626.1
Smågarna – September 16, 2016
Today’s Miles: 18
Total Miles: 1,644.1
Mellansjön – September 17, 2016
Today’s Miles: 29.7
Total Miles: 1,673.8
Near Mora, Sweden – September 18, 2016
I drifted back to Henrik’s house in Mora over five days. Flush with battery power, knowing a house waited at the end, I calmed the drum beat calling for miles and let the still moments linger.
I sat in the mornings and fleshed out the written details of stories that happened weeks ago. I rested on every bench I passed, stripping off my shoes and socks to let my feet relish the sun. I stopped before the sun gave way to night. I cooked before I needed a headlamp to see. I slept because I closed my eyes and not because I could no longer keep them open.
The path back was easy. It was the path of Sweden’s first king, Gustav Eriksson Vasa, who came north to rally an army as Danish forces hunted him. In Mora, the people listened, but were unsure, and Gustav had to flee before they came to a decision. As word of Danish atrocities spread, the people decided for Gustav and sent their fastest skiers after him to let him know they were with him. The skiers caught up to him in the town of Sälen. He went on to liberate Sweden from Danish rule and become king.
That’s the story, anyway.
Now it’s a winter ski race that attracts 15,000 skiers who race the 90 kilometres from Sälen to Mora in just a few hours. I followed their track alone over four days, passing through the empty checkpoints, the wide stretches of trail, drifting slowly back towards Henrik’s house in Mora, not quite there, not quite in the moment, content with charged batteries and catching up on stories that happened long ago.