Oct 17th To 18th – Ghost Towns

I’ve written little to nothing over the last two and a bit days.  Electricity has been a problem but it’s more than that.  The road is a desolate place when running alone.  Water is still a problem, with little rain over the last few days, the road side streams are dry or static, filled with orange algae or the detritus of those with little respect for the land.  It is a dampener on an otherwise focused mind. How can you fail to take your rubbish when you have come to this place in a car?

Again, I digress…

I left the room I was kindly given cheaply, having struggled to sleep.  Broken is a good descriptor for the night I had.  I woke and ate some cheese, quietly packing my kit that was spread across the entire room.  This required ninja like movement and the memory of the most advanced brains combined.  The old wooden floor was like a burglars nightmare.  The tiniest of missteps, the smallest of pressure on the wrong part of the foot and the floor would produce a creak of mythical magnitude.

I wandered down stairs.  The owner was there and the chat as always was about what I’m doing.  I explained was offered a reflective top, but I brandished my snap on reflectors and kindly declined and after a photo (she always takes two!) I was off.  I was intrigued to see if 50km was still possible with a pack leaden with food.  Not much food mind, but enough to add 2.7kg to my pack.  I knew there was a petrol station ahead so I wandered in and there, I saw the shrine…

A freshly ground coffee machine.  

I genoflected at the small but mighty alter, failing to be distracted by the pastries and going straight for the mother load.  One press of the espresso button and another of the black coffee.  The best £1 I’d spent in some time.  A treat of fruit juice followed and it was time to leave.  An hour or so lost in the garage, nursing the coffee, meant that the sun was making an appearance and I was suddenly more visible than two thin reflective stripes.  I ran through farming village after farming village.  All devoid of any sign that people existed in these building.  It feels like you are running through ghost towns, made to waken from any dazed moment of tiredness by a random dogs protestations.  Some places are clearly abandoned and I’m drawn to them.  The placement of object around and inside give the sense that they were left quickly.  That the people are still there but on a different plain to myself.  Yet more to add to the strange dislocated sensation of travelling light and leaving no trace of your passing.

Edsbyn drew nearer and my legs got tireder.  I had covered more than 50k in a day, with plenty of breaks.  This bodes well.  A trail just outside means a soft place to sleep and I think I have a solution to the damp and cold.  I will stop using my tent as a tent and more as a tarp.  Single skinned and open.  Setup, fed and dozing, a couple of people pass.  The words of the first person lost to the doze but the clear ‘tento’ spoken by the second amuses me.  I repeat it to myself and then back to sleep.

It seems I was right.  Despite the temperature being no different to normal (by normall I mean cold) I was warm.  No 2am wake up call from lady winter, as she poked me with her cold finger.  Instead I am given a display of colour to ease the tiredness of the legs.  Pink, red, orange, yellow.

A breakfast of meat and bread and off to the shop.  I feel ravenous today!  Edsbyn arrives, I purchase food, I eat food and for the rest of the day I struggle to maintain any sort of decent pace.  I am resigned to walk and in the 11 hours of light I barely cover 35km.  The highlight of the day was using the exploration of another abandoned farm building as a reason to rest, having tried the plugs to see if they are live or not.

I know I can’t walk this one.  Running is the only way to get things done.  I setup, expecting a damper eve as the signs of rain float above me.  It rains just as I get the outer part of the tent setup and get inside.  I eat again, I sleep.  A brief moment of amusement as I remember the toilet at the partly built and abandoned cafe I passed in the day.  Another place searched with no sign of that miraculous energy…  Electricity 

The last part is a bit of a lie.  I try t sleep but what happens is I am repeatedly woken by the sound of dogs barking in the night.  Cars drive passed almost nonstop on the road that is around 1km away and I realise that for now, the delights of the wilderness are lost.  No more evenings, lulled into sleep by nothing more than the sound of the wind setting the trees to a murmur and the rhythm of my heart.  Tomorrow I will have to find electricity.  Tomorrow I will have to find food and fuel better.  I am almost a day ahead of my schedule but to continue like today is not an option.  I came to run.  My legs and mind want to run.  I feel it when I walk.  An odd sensation that this form of motion is not fluid.  It lacks the smoothness of running, yet takes the same amount of effort with less reward in terms of distance.  

Right now, I sit at a camp site, surrounded by cabins, charging my powerbank, drinking a coffee and enjoying the sense that there is no need to rush.  ‘All in good time’ and ‘play the long game’ make sense, no longer phrases that feel to me, like empty encouragements.  I will use this to add graphite and clay to paper.  To increase the weight of the journal I have been writing and to make sure I stay present.  I am not the white rabbit chasing time…

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