I earned this vol VI
I’ve fallen a bit behind with this post, but nevertheless here it is.
The simplicity of what I was doing. Walking. Obviously. It’s like the most simple thing you can do – put one foot in front of another, repeat. Of course it was hard at times, because the terrain was difficult or the weather un-cooperative, but the essential, the very basic thing remained. I was asked last year after the first part – what did you think about during the day and didn’t you miss talking to other people. No I didn’t. Like Chris Townsend would say – I was alone, but not lonely. Few days before departing I totally switched off the problems at work. I didn’t dig into the plans for the coming year at work, ’cause I didn’t want to be troubled by them. I basically didn’t care much what was going on in the world because that didn’t really concern me. I knew that there were things happening all around me, but I stayed in that very day I was currently living. My biggest daily problems were – is it going to rain during the night and wheter the weather was good enough to enjoy the views. Occasionally I had to think if I will make it to the town while the shops are open or not. I didn’t worry much about the place I will sleep that night, depending of the weather of course. What I do when walking is I sing, out loud if nobody is around (sadly, I discovered that I know very little songs by heart ); I’d count my steps when the ascent was hard to get to a pace and not to put too much strain on my body (later I didn’t have to anymore, ’cause I became strong as some ascending machine or monster of the mountains); I thought how much time it would take to reach some destination or what will I see behind that bend or pass or peak; when I got messages from home that evertything was fine I didn’t worry much about that either. Life is simple in the trail.
The views and grandeur nature provided. Didn’t have much to see in the first 10 days or so, but that’s life. Some days are shitty and some are not. Why should it be different on the trail? The absolutely-totally, just awesome beyond any sense place I isited was the Aletsch glacier. I had been on a glacier before, but that was the small one near Kebnekaise in Sweden. But this would like comparing Scarlett Johansson to basically any other woman in the world 😀 I felt so overwhelmed when I first saw it in most of it’s lenght that I involuntarily squeezed out a tear of two. I felt like Andrew Skurka in that video where he tries to explain what he feels when walks along the carbou trail in Alaska. It’s like sooo big. And it’s not like just a thing that is there. Glaciers are constantly moving, almost like living things that change from year to year and they change the surroundings too. There was some information points nearby that said that once it had been so big that the peaks I saw all around it were actually hidden by the ice. That means that the top of the glacier was like hundreds of meters higher. That’s something one just can’t imagine. The Aletsch glacier is damn long too – over 20km. Most of people don’t walk that distance during the day, some don’t even drive that much. I hope that there is something out there that can move me as much as that place did.
Berries. There was just an enourmous amount of wild strawberries, bilberries, blackberries and raspberries available. And I seemed the only one picking them. I found starwberries as big as half my thumb growing in a patch of soil 6m2 big on a huge boulder. If I had bothered more then I could have picked litres of bilberries. I picked them by the trail so much that on some days it hindered my movement drastically. Mixed the with my morning muesly to get a witamine boost and enchance flavour. Occasionally there was more berries than muesly 😀 But I didn’t understand why I didn’t see anyone else picking them. Couldn’t be because they weren’t ready yet. I think that they were just afraid to get something straight from the nature instead buying from the supermarket. Afraid to get some disease or something. I also walked past an apricot plantation. Hundreds of trees full of fresh, juicy fruits. I picked a bagful of those already so ripe that they had fallen to the ground. Life was as good as it gets.
The physical and mental exercise. Pushing up and down for weeks made me fit like never before. Biking feels a lot easier and I can cover longer distances and keep on going for hours. I really think that I should have had something as long and at least 150% harder planned for this year so I could get the most of my improved stamina. GR20 would be a blast. But I have something in mind for next year. I think this keeps me motivated to keep training and improving through the winter. It’s something that I’ve been struggling lately.
The walk also boosted my confidence that I’m capable for such things. Not just physically, but mentally. When I boarded the train in the beginning of June and it started moving I was thinking: “What the hell am I doing? Is this normal?? There’s still time to get off in the next stop!” But that went by and I can’t remeber now if I ever thought about quitting. Sure there were days when I cursed the road, the sheep and weather, but it was almost always forgotten in the morning.
The other time difficult mentally was the last week. Maybe it was sadness or relief or something else, but with only so little to go I was having hard time grasping it. I guess that’s something people feel when summiting or reaching poles or after completing something they consider the highpoint of their lives. It wasn’t real. I had really done it – over 1000km, 34 days, all by myself. But now that was becoming to end and soon I would be sitting behind my desk from 8-5 again. Half jokingly I had said to my co-workers that they shouldn’t be surprised if I don’t show up.
From this point I can go only forward