Oct 25th – Unintentional Distance

A night of wetness. Rain all night and an interesting discovery…

If a rain drop is big enough or hits my tent with enough force, it passes through the material, creating a refreshing or shocking water spray.  

The lumps on the ground seemed to have been placed, more by chance than any actual attempt to position myself as I did, to provide support where needed and space where not. As a result I slept in reasonable comfort, but as the rain beat down on the tent, big drops of water acting as accents to the chaotic rhythm, the coldness of being damp crept in. I wait for the sun to rise. I can see the silhouette of branches, created by the solitary light on the house about 100m on the edge of the wood.

I’m anticipating cold hands. I always get cold hands in the mornings as I pack my tent away. I avoid touching the tent pole as long as I can, the metal a drain of heat energy from my fingers, sending them into the world of a burning cold. Tent is away quickly, rain has settled into a steady drizzle and I’m on a dirt track heading to my next stop. Thing is, my next stop is now only 7km away, which gives me time for coffee and a recharge. The running is made fun. By fun I mean challenging as my smoothed out sandals slip at the slightest misstep. My legs aren’t warmed up yet. They feel a little stiff from yesterday’s speedy 45km but there is no rush at all. I’m getting close to being two days ahead and in two days I’ll meet up with Mats near Vintrosa.  

I miss a turning. I end up on the main road, but it’s no mither. I’m not far from the shop or petrol station and all I’m thinking of is coffee and electricity. This is provided in the form of a petrol station that has a fresh coffee machine. I buy a coffee, find a spot to sit and get things charged. A hamburger follows the first coffee, a new cable to test my portable battery, a conversation about what I’m doing. ‘You’re crazy!’ Is the resultant reaction and I have to agree a little. Part of me still looks at this from the outside on occasion and realises that this is kind of insane. Winter is coming, the Autumn weather makes things tricky to manage and with each step I seem to get physically fitter. Mentally I take things as they come, aware that I have come over 2000km, through injury and health scare (now this is something I kept to myself but in the sections that I saw nobody, had no signal and was days away from civilisation of any kind I would go to the toilet and see more blood than faeces, a discovery that really did worry me. The fact is that it stopped by the one I saw a car to wave down and now is part of the journey to this point) and I’m still not half way there yet.

But at present, I’m using my time to rest my legs. I’ll cover around 16km before I stop today, pass through Nora for food, travel towards Vintrosa on the same day and arrive at Vintrosa, still a day ahead of schedule. Now, for another coffee.

Ooh! A USB cable to see if i can solve the battery probelm…

The guy behind the counter says I can try it out first to make sure it works. It gets plugged in and….

Side note: plugging in a portable battery pack to see if it works or not is not a cliffhanger moment. Trying to make it into some kind of tense moment is just plain daft.

It works! Tremendous. Back to the counter to pay and get another coffee. I try to pay and the guy refuses.  

‘For charity’ he says, then I try to pay for the coffee…

A big smile on his face, he says ‘for charity’

I slump my shoulders in resignation, smile back and use the phrase I seem to be using more and more…

‘Tack så mycket’

It’s the small acts of kindness, unexpected, unasked for and given open handedly that really blow me away. I feel like I’ve spent my life and neglected this aspect of living. It seems it’s all been about gaining things, hence my current financial situation, and that by giving away my belongings and choosing the have less do more mentality, I’m beginning to experience more of the kinder side of human nature. It reminds me of a speech give by Charlie Chaplin in a film. A film I can’t remember the name of but words that move…

‘Our knowledge has made us cynical; our cleverness, hard and unkind. We think too much and feel too little. More than machinery we need humanity. More than cleverness, we need kindness and gentleness. Without these qualities, life will be violent and all will be lost.’

With each passing day, these words make more sense. In fact, other sayings make more sense to me. Instead of liking the sentiment, feeling like the words relate to me, I find a deeper understanding of what the words portray. Again I digress, placing thought into words before they are fully formed. Instead I’m going to stop, drink my coffee and move on. 4 hours to cover 17km is a gentle walk. A gentle walk is probably what is needed today.
Gentle walks never happen. They turn into a mix of running and walking, no different to the usual day. Once off the main road I walked up, ran down, found some historical buildings as I’m running along and through a region that’s full of old iron works. The sky clears, the sun shines through and a flock of birds fly over head.  It’s blooming beautiful is what it is.

I reach where I intended to stop but carry on. Legs feel ok, the sun is still up so why the hell not. I’m 5km from Nora and the sun starts to set. Darkness falls quickly and I’m a little bit weary of the cars. Less than a kilometre to the nearest trail, the contours of the map showing the potential for flat ground. The road that leads to it is more like someone’s drive and I automatically go into sneaky ninja mode, pointlessly sneaking passed house, passed garage and passed open and occupied barn. The trail head is there. I image what the spot would look like in the light, since all colour is bleached from the landscape. I pause…

The tent is wet. He tent is shelter but will ask for the heat from my hands as payment. Tent setup as quickly as possible, the time my hands are on the aluminium tent pole minimised as best as I can. Hands are still cold though. It’s dark and it’s time to eat some food. That last kilometre had the tell tale symptoms of being under fuelled. Now I eat, get in my sleeping bag and allow my body heat to fill it before putting on some wool and sleeping. Chances are, I’ll get myself to Vintrosa tomorrow, but no rush. There is never a rush anymore, especially since I am now just 4km away from being 2 days ahead of my schedule without feeling destroyed.  Viva la caffeine

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