Today’s Miles: 18.1
Total Miles: 3,231.9
Near Triberg, Germany – December 10, 2016
I stopped to look at a sign and an old man with a walker stopped too. He squinted and looked me up and down, trying to figure out where I fit in the world, then asked where I needed to go.
“The Westweg,” I said.
He nodded and pointed to a hill.
“Up there by the castle,” he said.
His words came out like he was talking about nothing more than a street corner. I wondered how many times he had to walk past before it became just another ruined castle perched above a town.
Up I went, past the castle. A Christmas tree perched in the single remaining tower like a lonely guard. It was a good start to a beautiful day.
The sun came out and warmed everything once it broke through the frost. The clouds stayed high and puffy white. I walked easy, letting the light soak into me, feeling like I was stealing a day from winter.
When the trees broke, I stared off at the horizon, following the forested slopes of the mountains as they bent and rose, each hazier than the last until they melted into the sky. I looked beyond the horizon too, above it, into that haze where I saw the jagged little teeth hanging in the distance two days ago.
I haven’t seem them since. It’s like the whole of the Alps were just an illusion that faded back into my imagination where they run wild in my thoughts.
Every bit of frost, every brush of cold air on my skin, every frozen stream convinces me to give up hope. They are too far gone in winter, I think. Go around, I think. They are a white wall.
Then the sun shines. I sweat under my shirt. I pass barren ski slopes with empty lifts. Maybe, I think. It hasn’t snowed in weeks, I think. Perhaps there is still a crack, I think.
I keep looking to the horizon. I keep staring and seeing nothing. I keep churning it through my mind. But the only thing that really matters are my footsteps, moving south, moving closer. I can’t imagine myself across. I can only walk and see.