I wake to the sound of rain. A gentle piterpater of light rain accentuated with the heavier drops from the adjacent tree. It stops for a few minutes before continuing. ‘Sunday already. Where did the weekend go?’ I think as I have some breakfast. I plan on grabbing some food from the shop, which luckily opens at 9am everyday. I still have food enough for a meal or two, but extra calories are a bonus. My shopping is quicker today. Salami sticks, 2 mini cartons of vanilla cream (this is what I thought was some custard type liquid) and some cardamon buns. I wander out of the village, intent on a slow steady day. The weight of the pack is still heavy when carrying nearly 2l of water. Passed a weir, a ski resort and then it’s back to no man’s land.
I need to dry the inner of my tent and My sleeping bag, but I’ve resigned myself to a colder eve since it’s drizzling and all the land is coated in a layer of moisture. Hidden in the woods, I spot a stack of logs beneath a makeshift shelter. There’s no path to it by my feet are already wet and cold. The chance of a fire is a good way to dry them. It is a nice little hunters shelter with some rocks setup as a place for a fire and plenty of chopped wood. I collect some birch bark, place it in the centre of the fireplace. Grab two split logs, using my knife as an axe edge and hitting the blade with one of the logs I split the wood into smaller, faster burning pieces. I set up the wood in the traditional wigwam manner and start the fire. It burns well and I add a few more piece of wood. The sleeping bag waves slightly as the hot air rises passed it. The tent and my tabi socks steam as the moisture starts to evaporate quickly. I eat the cardamon buns, drink some water and then wait for the fire to go out. I put out the glowing embers and leave.
The road ahead is a roller coaster ride of ups and downs, but eventually it’s time for the down. A lake side bench seems like a good place to stop for a rest but there’s more here that is useful. A map on a board shows the location of all the wind shelters and cabins in the area. There’s a wind shelter next to the lake at Friggesund if I end up arriving there today. Ideal for a night next to a fire. Normally I would have sat, eaten, gone. Oblivious to the map and the useful information that it holds.
‘But it’s Saturday’ catches my eye and I laugh. I wandered where the extra day went! Phone off again and it’s time to run. I know it’s a rest day. Running just seems less effort, smoother somehow compared to walking. I pass through two, maybe three villages and a lady, dressed in luminous orange and walking with purpose. She smiles and waves and I return the smile and wave, running as its a downhill. An old road, covered in leaves head at an angle on the direction I just came and there’s an electricity junction box.
‘Free electricity’ is the only thought I have and the powerbank and mobile get plugged in. I contemplate staying there for the night, recharging my powerbank. I eat a little food, check the map to see how far I am from Friggesund and what time the shop opens. 9pm is the opening time. I’d like to be near Delsbo by then, so early shop is cancelled for a late shop. At my feet the smallest mushrooms I have ever seen are growing from a leaf. I pick it up, amazed at how delicate the structures are.
Suddenly there’s a roaring sound from the junction box, with the occasional hiss of gas escaping at pressure! I nearly fall off the chair I sit on and decide to get gone. There’s no way of getting a good nights sleep if that thing is going to keep making such a a racket. Plug pulled, pack reorganised and on my back I leave. I have around 3km until I reach the trail just outside of Friggesund and it arrives sooner than I was expecting. I wander down and find a spot out of the way. I pitch my tent and while I’m still warm and fully dressed I’m in my sleeping bag. I start to eat some food and hear voices close by…
I freeze for a moment before zipping up the door to the inner compartment of the tent. The voices stop. I don’t here footsteps. They’d be obvious on the pine needles and branches that cover the track. A pause…
More waiting and nothing. Then a bird flies from branch to branch, fluttering its wings and singing loudly. I return to my meal in the hope that the people I heard either didn’t see me or decided to leave me be. It’d be a pain to have to repack and find a new spot but I’m prepared to do it if needed. Warm and comfortable, I eat, drink and dress for sleep. As rest days go, I still ran, still pushed up the hills, but there was no urgency to the journey and I realised that my ability to see what is around me has improved. More aware of opportunities that make the difference between warmth and cold, food and no food, water and no water. I suddenly realise that i have never been this observant when running. Right now, less than a meter from me, a red squirrel scampers up a tree, into the canopy above. The slower pace is the only reason I’m able to wander and feel like my eyes are wide open. Able to see the smaller things and have the time to appreciate their beauty. The point is, why when we have the ability and the choice, do we seek a life full of things when all we need seems to be right there. Hidden in the open.