Europe N to S: Catching More than Sunset (12/8/16)

Today’s Miles: 24.3
Total Miles: 3,193.6

Near Sandkopf – December 8, 2016

The forest’s black trunks and branches cut the sunset into a thousand pieces. I race along the edge of the trees, climbing toward a gentle peak, chasing the sun as it smears orange across the sky.

I know it won’t last. It never lasts long enough anymore. The whole day spent up high, staring down at the cloud sea, watching thin whisps drift across the blue sky, and now I’m going to miss sunset for this forest. 

My legs jump to life, my mind comes off autopilot. I walk hard, flying up the dirt road to the mountain top, leaning on legs built up and broken down by thousands of miles to catch the sun just as it slips away.

I could only imagine it yesterday, stuck in a valley as the sky lit on fire. Not today. Today I will catch it.

I scamper up the last steps as the sun spills color across the sea of clouds below and lights up the sky above. Pink, orange, and purple glow bright against a world of black, green, and blue.

I stand and stare, catching my breath. My heart slows down from the climb. A thin layer of sweat evaporates into the cool air. I pull on gloves and a hat and keep staring, giving myself a still moment to rest, to enjoy, to drink it in. 

My eyes follow the forested mountains south. Every curve seems a different shade of blue as they stretch into the distance, catching the last light of the day, until they melt into a line on the horizon. There are small clouds there, distant points breaking the flat line of orange and pink. They almost look like mountains.

I stare harder, squinting at them in the orange glow of sunset. Then my breath stops in my chest. I don’t move as if rooted to the earth.

They are not clouds. They are mountains. Real mountains, the kind that turn the one under my feet into a hill. They are distant and hazy. They almost seem made of imagination, but they are there. They are jagged and sharp. They are teeth rising off the earth. There is no mistake. They are the Alps. 

Fear floods my chest. Then excitement. Then joy. Then fear again.

Then I just stare.

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6 thoughts on “Europe N to S: Catching More than Sunset (12/8/16)

  1. Wow! What a picture! Make sure you get at least one cup of hot chocolate in the alps in Switzerland! I had hot chocolate in a small village on the way to Mt. Blanc and it was spectacular! Large cup, hot dark chocolate with whole milk! When I finished the cup, there were dregs of chocolate in the bottom! Hope you find some even better!

  2. That photo is truly inspiring. Reminded me of hiking in the Wind River Range and heading South towards the back of the Cirque of Towers area. Seemed so far off but was worth the walk! Your walk is changing more lives than you know Daniel. Quietly you are making your mark on our souls!

  3. Surreal! Your first glimpse of the Alps given by being up high enough from that distance. I knew you were close, but didn’t think you could yet see them. What a photo of it all! I imagine what it might have been like for people long ago coming from the North and catching a glimpse. Perhaps for them much like your own response, “Fear floods my chest. Then excitement. Then joy. Then fear again.

    Then I just stare.”

    Beautiful.

  4. What a beautiful photo and then you see those sharp bumps on the horizon and my stomach jumped a little too!

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