Europe N to S: Frosted World (11/12/16)

Today’s Miles: 18.8

Total Miles: 2,748.5

Near Bad Meinberg, Germany – November 12, 2016

The snow has almost melted away. It only hangs on in shadowy pockets and high hills, half melted then frozen again each night. But the cold remains.

Frost touches everything. It clings to the inside of my tent as I pack it away, the moisture from thousands of breaths frozen to the fabric. It outlines every leaf on the ground, the crystal-white edges cracking under my feet. Rooftops glisten white. Frost-clad statues watch over empty town squares. Puddles in the road crack open under foot. Half-frozen lakes hold still in the wind.

I walk and wait for the sun to arrive, but it doesn’t come to burn it all away. A haze hangs over everything, not defined enough to be clouds, more like a grey blanket stretched from the horizons to deny the sun’s heat. It cloaks the distances in mist, leaving nothing but shapes outlined against the white.

Not until the end does it break through, glowing pink from a break in the clouds as I reach a hilltop. I stop to watch for a moment, just a moment, because the cold is always right behind me, chasing me, trying to turn me into frost before I can disappear into the forest, find a flat piece of ground, set up my tent with numb fingers, and crawl into my sleeping bag.

An hour later I’m warm again.

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