Total Miles: 2,463.6
Hohenwestedt, Germany – October 18, 2016
Today’s Miles: 31.5
Total Miles: 2,495.1
Barmstedt, Germany – October 19, 2016
Today’s Miles: 23.7
Total Miles: 2,518.8
Near Hamburg, Germany – October 20, 2016
Today’s Miles: 22.1
Total Miles: 2,540.9
Hamburg, Germany – October 21, 2016
Today’s Miles: 0
Total Miles: 2,540.9
Hamburg, Germany – October 22-23, 2016
Today’s Miles: 7
Total Miles: 2,547.9
Hamburg, Germany – October 24, 2016
Today’s Miles: 17.2
Total Miles: 2,565.1
Near Harborg, Germany – October 25, 2016
Today’s Miles: 27.9
Total Miles: 2,593
Near Wilsede, Germany – October 26, 2016
Today’s Miles: 28.9
Total Miles: 2,621.9
Near Wietzendorf, Germany – October 27, 2016
Today’s Miles: 21.3
Total Miles: 2,643.2
Near Celle, Germany – October 28, 2016
Today’s Miles: 21.6
Total Miles: 2,664.8
Near Hannover, Germany – October 29, 2016
Today’s Miles: 11.4
Total Miles: 2,676.2
Hannover, Germany – October 30, 2016
Northern Germany slips by like southern Denmark. The days bleed into each other and the miles stack high.
I wake early each morning, breaking camp at first light, then walk by habit until just after dark, trusting the night to hide my tent in patches of forgotten woods, hoping no one will notice or care for a single night.
I slip through towns, stopping for bits of food in bakeries and grocery stores, trying not to buy too much, reminding myself that there isn’t five days of wilderness ahead, that I’ll pass another store in hours not days, that I don’t need to carry more than a meal or two.
I buy chocolate bars and packs of gummi candy to parcel out in dull moments. None last more than a day before they are only wrappers to throw away and replace at the next store.
I fill water bottles in bathroom sinks. I cross a canal in a brightly lit tunnel with information signs explaining how it was built so that ships could pass overhead. I walk down sidewalks and bike paths and old roads. I forget the last time I stepped off a path for anything other than a hidden campsite.
Rain comes and goes. Sun comes and goes. Wind comes and goes. It’s all easy and autopilot. I don’t have to think. It’s more habits than decisions. I listen to audio books and let my mind drift with nothing but an occasional glance at my gps to make sure my dot is moving in the right direction. Hours slip away under grey skies until the light fades or a town springs up to distract me.
I think it will change after Hamburg. I will rest there, I tell myself. I will take days off, I tell myself. I will dance and leave feeling refreshed the same way I left Trondheim a thousand miles ago, I tell myself.
But I arrive and rest and dance and and eat and meet wonderful people, yet walk out still tired, still feeling the days blending into one another like they used to back at the law firm, back when yesterdays disappeared as soon as tomorrows came.
I think of the beginning, of Kinnarodden. A night there at the top of Europe. The second night not so far away in a flat spot on the shattered rocks. The third a bit farther from that by the lonely road. The fourth up high in a vast, empty space of land. The in between stuffed with still-sharp images. Those early days remain clear in my mind, not every step, but moments I can conjure myself back to with a thought even as yesterdays slip together, smudge, and lose themselves in each other.
I catch a bus out of Hannover, walking to the station in the early morning and washing up in a bathroom so the passenger next to me doesn’t have to smell a week of sweat.
I have an old friend in Warsaw. I haven’t seen her for six years, but she’s the kind of old friend who will lend me her couch on a moment’s notice for as long as I need. Maybe it will only be a day. Maybe two. Maybe it will be a week. Maybe I’ll just wait until my feet don’t ache for the first steps of the morning and my legs grow bored of chairs.
Then I will walk again.