Day 60 - Autumn is coming
Patches of blue sky made me happy and hopeful. Also knowing that the hike was going to be a short one, made it easy to motivate myself.
Reaching the main road after a 6 hours hike through marshes, the sun hid behind a thick layer of clouds, and I felt how cold it was. The smell of autumn was in the air. As I was sitting by the road, contemplating my next move, a Finnish girl, Hanna, approached me and told me that it was going to be a cold night. Yr.no predicted 0 degrees, so my plan of putting up the tent in the vicinity, changed to join Hanna to a private farm, where we had heard they were renting out rooms.
There were no signs by the road telling us where the farm was or that they in fact rented out rooms. But this time, listening to trail gossip really payed off. We had both been advised to seek out a farm named "Valen" rather than a more expensive option further down the road. Approaching Valen, we met an older man working in the shed who pointed out a green house and told us to settle in and that someone would come by and give us more information shortly.
The fireplace had started to warm up our bodies and clothes when Randi came by to welcome us to Valen. She invited us up to the main house, where we were served coffee, carrot cake and free wifi. We had heard about Randi's hospitality, and the rumors was not false. As we were about to leave to our own place, Randi came out and laden our arms with homemade bread and butter.
Already for a few days, I had toyed with the idea of leaving the trail over Børgefjell and walk along the main road down to Namsskogan instead. I had now reached the point where I had to make a choice. I decided to sleep on it.
Day 61 – On the road again
When I woke up, I was no longer in doubt. I was going to walk along the road, first to Hattfjelldal, then to Namsskogan. I told my mom to redirect my next box of resupply, so I could pick it up there in a short week. I did no longer care about planning the rest of my trip carefully, but to take it day by day. I didn’t know when I would be back on the trail, and I did not care about knowing either.
I ate breakfast in Hanna’s company before she left. I then packed my stuff, said goodbye to Randi, and Mr. Skywalker and I was back on the road. It felt good, the sun was shining and I had nothing else to do but walking. I even put on my sandals, just to get out of my bog-smelling shoes.
To walk along the road has both upsides and downsides. It is extremely boring, and the asphalt can be hard on your feet after a while. It can also be hard to find a good camping spot, you can no longer put up the tent anywhere. On the other hand, you can suddenly come across a decent toilet and a friendly wave or a thumbs-up from passersby. Being closer to civilization, the chance of finding a shop, is also much bigger.
I met Hanna again in the evening, and we ate dinner together before walking on. We said goodbye after a few kilometers, because I wanted to walk a little further in the beautiful evening sun. When my feet could carry my no longer, I put up my tent a short way from the road and I ate again in the setting sun.
Day 62 - Civilization
I should have learned not to trust the weather forecast by now... but no. Waking up to a rainy morning while expecting sun, put a damper on my mood. However, the misty morning turned to a clear day quite fast and my hike to Hattfjelldal was easy enough. Although, as keen as I was to reach civilization again, I looked at Google maps every 10 minutes to see how far I had to go, so it took FOREVER to get there.
Hattfjelldal (directly translated: Hat Mountain Valley) – a small village inhabited by 605 friendly people, is located in a valley below a mountain shaped like a hat. The first thing I did when I arrived the village, was to find an empty table at Café Hatten, kick off my shoes and order a taco pizza. And a piece of cake. And an ice cream.
I didn’t know where I was going to spend the night, so I asked the locals if they had any suggestions. A camping site 2km away was seemed to be what the hat-valley had to offer. I didn't feel like walking another meter, so I planned to seek out the softest piece of grass I could find in the vicinity and pitch up the tent there. Stig, the owner of the café, approached me when I was about to leave. He suggested I could take refuge by the flight hangar close by, as he was the chairman of the flight club, I could go there and mention his name if anybody was to give me trouble for being there.
Thankful for Stig's intervention, I went to seek out the hangar he had pointed out. I didn't see any aircrafts, but I found an abandoned shack containing flying leaflets and aircraft posters, so I guessed I had come to the right place. How very wrong I was.
Day 63 - Breakdown
I woke up in the shack feeling excited about my hobo-camping experience. Once Mr. Skywalker was packed, I went back to the Café to get a cup of coffee and to exploit the free wifi one last time before leaving.
I wasn't in a hurry to get going, so I called my boyfriend. When the subject of the car came up, the talk got less enjoyable. He told me that he thought it was going to take yet another week for it to be fixed, and that the only thing we could do, was to wait.
I broke down. I felt then that I’ve been trying to be brave for such a long time, trying to stay positive and to trust that Simon will come when he comes and that I’m fine with that.
I was not fine with that. Not at that moment. It crushed me. I was not able to speak, fearing that I would scream out loud if I did. My chest was aching while silent tears were streaming down my face. I guess Stig noticed that I was at my breaking point, so he said that if I needed a rest day, I could use the club house for the night.
I came across the term “trail-angel” when I read Cheryl Strayed’s “Wild” where she crosses the PCT and Stig definitely falls into that category. He’s a true trail-angel.
Even though it was very tempting, it was not an easy decision. The internal battle: to get further or to give my body and mind a much needed rest. In the end I told Stig yes please, and he drove me to the club house.
As it turned out, the shack I stayed in last night, was not where Stig meant. At all. The club house was quite the update from yesterday's accommodation I must say. Before leaving me, Stig told me about being a pilot and the service he provided and I was able to take a sneak peek into the cockpit of the small airplane parked outside the clubhouse. How awesome is that?!
It was nice with an unplanned rest day, but I still felt very empty. It was like I had this feeling I couldn’t place. Was it stress? Loneliness? Tiredness? I didn’t really know, but the need for the trip to be over, was quite intense.
Day 64 – Turning point
The weather forecast was not very appealing, but I decided to walk anyway. In the beginning, it wasn't too bad, just a light drizzle. After a few hours, however, it worsened considerably.
The feeling of wet clothes on my skin and the wind whipping the rain in my face made it unbearable, so stiff from cold, I started to look for a good spot to put up the tent, preferably close to running water.
I came across a cabin, and I almost ran to the door to ask if I could spend the night, or at least get shelter from the terrible weather for a few hours. Reaching it, I saw that it was bolted shut, so I decided to put up my tent right next to the shed, hoping nobody would come to chase me off.
The unpredictable weather is what's makes me so tired of this journey. Rain makes everything so much more difficult. While laying in my sleeping bag, I fell in and out of sleep. Suddenly a deep calmness swept over me. A change was happening inside me, I could feel it. Acceptance for all that is and everything that happens.
I was letting go of all of my worries. And after that, things started to loosen up. I even got a call from my boyfriend telling me that he was going to go to the garage the next day to collect the car.
Day 65 - Temptations
In primary school, I had a teacher named Rolf. He was a kind man, short tempered and easily distracted. Like any old man, he loved talking about the good old days, and his stories from the army are the ones I remember the best. He told us how he had to dig a snow cave to survive the wintery night and how he used his own body heat to dry his wet socks.
As it turned out, that was a very good piece of advice. In the evening, I’ve been putting my socks on my shoulders or my stomach, and the coming morning, they’re bone dry. Uncomfortable yes, but effective.
The rain stopped in the early morning and my hike could continue. People stopped to ask if I wanted a ride several times and it got more and more difficult to say no. One of the guys offering a ride, told me about a shop ahead and I got really excited, thinking I could buy something warm to drink and charge my phone.
After an hour, a lady stopped and told me that the shop ahead was closed but that I could call Bjørn. She then handed me a green post-it note with Bjørn’s number and drove off.
“Hello Bjørn, my name is Kaja and a woman just gave me your number on a post-it note… “
“Ah, yes! When you reach the shop, you will se a house on top of the hill to your right. I will be there shortly, but you can take a shower, wash your clothes, watch tv, eat, whatever you like. Make yourself at home. "
It turned out that Bjørn was the guy who told me about the shop, and remembering that it was closed after we parted, he felt guilty for giving me false hope and wanted to make amends.
We talked and ate and had a great time. When I told him I was planning to buy new shoes in Namsskogan, he made arrangements so I could buy the pair I wanted in Hattfjelldal instead, and then he drove me there.
Bjørn – another trail-angel!