I’m sat in a hostle and partly feeling guilty for it. I will be here another two nights. But the reason and thought process behind it is intriguing me. I argued that I was being weak and seeking comfort because of it. Turns out, after a few things caught my attention and I did a little maths, the argument was pointless.
Day 27 started with some food. In fact, I ended day 26 and proceeded to eat 3 bowls of muesli (make with watery powdered milk) and then a ration pack. The last that I carried. I my head, I had eaten like a king but day 27 proved otherwise.
I started by running. The trail ran downhill so it seemed the sensible thing to let gravity do most of the work. The trail flattened. I still trundled on, taking a very short break to eat a small handfull of bilberries, taking a picture of the beautiful lake and mountains and carrying on. Then the first hill…
My legs felt like lead. They felt tired on the down hill and flat but I had to pause on an uphill that was no more than 30m. Then the next uphill followed by a flat section and I had to pause again. I felt drained. As though I had run 100km and this was the low point where I realise I didn’t fuel enough for the last hour. The desperation shuffle was engaged, but even this pathetic and last resort running was difficult to maintain. I reach halfway and the trail markings magically change colour.
Gone is the splats of red paint interspersed with the occasions red T, only to be replaced by splats of blue and white and more finger posts that I have ever seen, pointing in every which direction and leading to anything from a bench to a shelter.
I follow in the hope that it’s the right trail. I know Abisko is east and the trail is heading east, so I follow it. Every few minutes my brain screams at me for sleep. I drink the last of my Tailwind. ‘I just need sugar’ I tell myself, but after a good glug there is still nothing there but the urgent need to sleep. I plan to stop of a suitable spot appears off the trail.
‘That bit there’ I tell myself, but on arriving it is an area of muddy wetness. Then a sign… Abisko 13km.
I keep moving. A mistake as I start to feel that odd wobbly state that only comes from severe fatigue, but I step on and with each step feel more and more uncoordinated. More tailwind drunk. Still refusing to stop. There’s 5k left… Keep moving even if a walk.
The trail become a thin single track with vegetation that threatens to takebakc the land. My sandal… The right sandal connects squarely with a rock hidden amongst the foliage. A pain that I thought I’d left behind burns through my right leg and I stumble for a few steps…
I walk with a limp for a few steps, breathing deeply…
I walk without the limp…
I swear at myself for the carelessness…
I start to run again. Purposefully focusing on relaxing my right leg and foot. I still want to stop and sleep. A nice deep sleep for just a few minutes. A sign ahead says ‘Abisko Touriststation 4km’
I run passed in disbelief!!
‘That was no way just 1km!? For fucks sake!?’
I carry on, refusing to pause for more than a few seconds. The trail drops and skirts the lake. It’s a huge lake. Bigger than the man made monstrosity at Altevashytta, and it is surrounded by big peaks. I try to run but the legs refuse and the run is a walk.
A huge river courses below as I cross a bridge and I am at my destination. 5km earlier I battled with myself. I’ll have a rest day tomorrow was the thought that started the battle.
‘You’re wanting a rest day because your just being soft. You can’t really afford it and your still moving so you don’t really need it.’
‘But you feel wobbly as and if you’re not careful, you’ll gg injured by doing something stupid. The next leg is long and remote. Take longer and you’re gonna run out of food and be in the shit’
‘You just need to eat and you can do that today. It’s not that late and the shops only 2.5km away from where you’re planning on stopping. You’ll be screwed if you stop inside. Camp!’
‘I can’t sort my kit in the tent, or stay as warm, or sort leg. Two nights is one whole day of rest. Then can sort kit and pick up parcel from shop without rushing’
This went on for the entire 5km, then when I entered the hostle, asked the price, I began to fill in the information sheet they wanted filling.
I struggle to hold the pen. I struggle to move my arm and write my name. Tiredness washes over me and I have to really focus just to finish the small amount of writing they’ve requested.
‘I’ll stay two nights please’
I feel less guilt having struggled to write. I pay… More than I can afford and begin to think things through having purchased some food.
So far I’ve consumed 17 ration packs (500 calories each), eaten two 500g packs of nuts (2000 calories each), eaten around 3000 calories over two days of rest, eaten one small bowl of rice and 4 small bowls of porridge (each around 150 calories) whilst travelling 756km over 27 days. On top of this there’s been 3000 calories of tailwind. That’s a total of 16,250calories, which is 601 calories per day, including the 3 days of rest I’ve had so far.
No wait! Tuuka gave me a couple of meals that were all together 600 calories so the total calories per day is actually 624 calories per day. 😂
Today I ran to the shop and back with food, had to return because I needed my passport to collect my parcel, then returned again because, as I got back to the hostle I could feel the fatigue taking hold and that need to sleep again, so decided an extra night was needed.
Now… If Bruce Fordyce read those, he may just slap his open palm to his head!
I realise something is missing.
My bank card is missing.
‘For fucks sake’ is uttered allowed. My recently picked up Tailwind is dumped at the hostle and I am running back to the shop, searching the trail ahead for signs of my card.
Every wet stone reflects the green of the leaves and I hope it’s my card, but none of them are. I reache the shop and ask the attendant if I left my card.
He says no and ass for details on my card while he opens the till.
There’s my card. He’s holding my card I his hand. He hands me my card and after thanking him I breaths huge sigh of relief. Someone had found the card in the village and taken it to the shop. I thanks them again and leave, running back to the hostle. 9 miles I’ve run, and when filling out another forms he same fatigue is there. I am now a member of the STF because I’ve stayed three nights, or stowaway I will stay three nights. Whether it is enough or not, I have to move on after. Time isn’t a problem but funds are going to run out faster the more I have to stop, which means come December time, I will have a new problem to solve. But that is all it will be…
A proble that will have a simple solution.
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