Europe N to S: Between Katahdin and Santiago (10/9/16)


Today’s Miles: 29.3

Total Miles: 2,210.6

Østrup, Denmark – October 9, 2016

I wake in a gentle rain and pry myself up. My body still aches from yesterday, but I can’t stay still. There isn’t enough light to waste time waiting for rain and sore muscles with the sun rising toward dawn.

I crunch the numbers from yesterday’s miles and realize that somewhere in Aalborg, on some strip of pavement, I would have reached Katahdin on the Appalachian Trail. I would have taken my picture next to that iconic sign on top. I would have been done.

I try to remember the date, but the day shifts around in my head. It was July, 2004, early for a thru-hike to end, but just a month before I started law school. The 22nd and 27th both seem right. I can’t decide which and it bothers me, like that moment is slipping away.

It was before dawn too, my friend Waterfall and I climbed the mountain in the night, picking our way up the boulders by our headlamps, two cones of light slowly moving higher in the darkness. We arrived just before dawn, as the black sky drifted towards deep blue.

We barely spoke at the top. Instead we sat there together, quiet, waiting for sunrise, and letting the joy and sadness of the end seep into our hearts.

But those are dreams from long ago.

I pack away my gear and throw on my backpack. My shoulder is bruised, but the weight feels light, like it always does in the morning before the miles make it heavy.

“Another thirty today,” I think. 

Back in Frederickshavn I saw the symbol of the Camino de Santiago on a sign for the first time. It is yellow lines on a blue field, taken from the pattern on the back of seashells pilgrims to Santiago’s cathedral carry, but it looks like the rays of light spreading out on the horizon. I didn’t expect to see it until Spain, until I reached the more famous pieces of the pilgrim trails, but there it was, unassuming, yet unmistakable, waiting to remind me of a destination another two thousand miles away, waiting to remind me of the dreams ahead.

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3 thoughts on “Europe N to S: Between Katahdin and Santiago (10/9/16)

  1. Little did you know when you took that first step on the Appalachian Trail the impact it would have on your life. Thirty years from now it will be interesting to see the impact of the first step of Kinnarodden to Tarifa. And one more thought on the difference in the placement of a letter — a decade removed from the Appalachian Trial and law school you are doing “trails” instead of “trials”. Just a weird thought this am.

  2. One of my favorite photos of all of your journeys is that of you standing looking at the marker/momument at Katadin in the blue of early morning. You grew so much during that journey. Now here you are growing more and more. All kinds of journeys will do that.

    I imagine all the pilgrims through human history headed from all parts of Europe and beyond to El Camino. Now you will add yourself to that journey.

    Blessings Be!

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