I wake up in my tent. “Oh, Tent” I think, “will you understand what’s happening when I pack you away tomorrow morning? Will you feel abandoned when I store you under my bed at Farmor’s house and don’t set you up for days, weeks, months? Thank you for being so reliable, dear Tent. Thank you for sheltering me all these months and for not tearing or breaking or falling under any kind of disrepair. I’ll miss you, Tent”. (Clearly I was one of those children who fell a little too hard for the Toy Story narrative, imagining all of her beloved possessions coming to life as soon as my head was turned, tents included). Last night I paid a stupid amount of money to set up my darling tent by a stretch of beach owned by the Rosfjord Sandhotell so that I could go swimming because it’s been hot as donkey balls these past few days. So I was very happily able to take an ocean bath before bed last night. Yup, you read that right – the ocean. Salty, watery proof that I am truly nearing the finish line. I haven’t seen the ocean, much less been in it, for a very long time. All the water I’ve been drinking, splashing around in, dipping my swollen feet in, and taking pictures of since I left Nordkapp has been fresh, drinkable fjord or river or lake water. I was actually a little caught off guard when I dipped my fingers into the water and brought them up to my lips yesterday.
I roll over in my sleeping bag and turn off all the alarms I had so very optimistically set last night because I was all “oh my goodness, it’s my last day hiking, I should totally wake up at dawn to watch the sunrise and then go swimming in the ocean” none of which happened because it’s freaking cold at dawn and I’m just not that whimsical.
I wake up for real a couple of hours later and realize it’s probably time to get up. I’m so lazy first thing in the morning, always. But that’s not just because I’m on this trip, I’ve been like that forever and ever. So I groan and moan and grumble a little as I change out of my pajama sweat pants and into my hiking leggings. Then I roll up my sleeping bag, throw all my crap into the big plastic Coop bag I’ve been carrying that I use to shove all my belongings into so I don’t have to put them on the wet grass outside my tent (because my tent and sleeping bag need to go into my pack first but obviously I need to get all my crap outside of my tent in order to pack it away to put it in my bag). Once all that business is done, I head over to the hotel to make use of their bathroom facilities, wall charging plugs, and wifi.
A couple of days ago I got a very lovely email from a man named Knut who is also hiking Norge På Langs and who (at the time of sending the email) was only 2 days behind me even though he started like 2 weeks after me (I am still in the fight and not a slug – right mr. Olson?). Knut is super speedy and is planning on finishing the same day as me, so I very hopefully suggested we meet up before the end and discuss how the trip went for both of us. Then he told me that he’s hiked the PCT, which is the trail from Mexico to Canada that I’ve been pondering this entire hike, wondering if I’d be able to hack it, considering all the differences between that hike and this one. So that made me even more desperate to meet him since he’s the only person I know of that’s completed (well nearly) both trails. Knut also very kindly included me in the email list of his trip update emails and forwarded me the emails his hiking companion Gail had written earlier on in the trip. Which is what I’ve been sitting here in this hotel lobby reading as I procrastinate getting back on the road. They were much braver than me and didn’t cower and stick to the road like I did in the beginning, but it also sounds like they had far worse weather. I’m very grateful that I seemingly unknowingly started out at exactly the right time because I really have had awesome weather most of the trip. There have been quite a few things I can easily and brattily (not a word? It is now) complain about – the weather during the majority of these past four months is not one of them.
There are two flies circling this hotel lobby that will not leave me alone and are driving me insane. It’s probably for the best though, because in my pizza stupor yesterday I forgot to stop at a grocery store before leaving Lyngdal sentrum and so now I have no food. Which means I need to walk back about a kilometer, get some grub, and then hike on to Spangereid. But! I have no complaints about a little extra walking because guess what crazy thing I did yesterday?? I bought new shoes! Yup, 2 days and only a handful of miles before the end, I decided to throw some money at the sweet people working at G-Sport so that I could enjoy the last chunk of walking before it’s over. They were in shock over my journey and the state of my shoes (there were more holes in them than Swiss cheese, in certain places I could literally touch the asphalt through them with my feet, and they were being held together by medical tape) and I managed to guilt trip them into giving me a discount (because I’m an asshole).
I am now standing in the grocery store, wondering what I should dump into my basket. What do I want to eat this last day and a half? Candy, that’s for sure. What else? Dude, you only need food to survive til tomorrow morning, let’s not go crazy here. I buy an assortment of processed “food” that is doubtlessly terrible for me, including a bag of mini lemon muffins that I gorge myself on in the parking lot.
Oh! I need to give a very grateful shoutout to the wonderful Katherine Jones – I would absolutely have lost my mind if you hadn’t graciously let me borrow your Spotify for the last few weeks. You’re a hero.
Oy vey. It is entirely possible that eating 15 mini lemon muffins in 5 minutes was a bad idea.
Off we go! Walk walk hum hum la la last day last day!
Just kidding, turning around and going back (again) to Lyngdal because my soon to be new friend Knut hikes faster than a freaking cheetah and just texted me to say he’s almost here so I may as well wait and meet him here instead of in Spangereid as previously planned. Yay friend!
I check Whatsapp as I wait and see that my dad has been online, which means he’s off the plane and officially in Norway! I get him to call me, he puts me on speakerphone so Farmor is also there, we talk about my crappy hiker diet, how much my feet have grown, my mature father makes a penis joke (the only audience is his mother and daughter…) and then we hang up. I continue waiting at Pizzabakeren, re-reading Lindy West’s fabulous book Shrill and eating candy (being a hiker is so fun).
Knut shows up, orders a pizza, and I grill him on the PCT, as if I can somehow wheedle him into telling me that I can 100% accomplish it, as if he is some kind of hiking oracle.
We walk to Spangereid together, chatting about hiking, the people we’ve met, the food we eat, the other people who’ve hiked NPL this year, etc. The kilometers fly by! Suddenly we’re sitting at the gas station in Spangereid, it’s 6pm and tomorrow morning I will be done hiking. How freaking bananas is that?!? You guys… I did the thing… I actually did it. This is way too much for me to wrap my head around. I feel like the beginning of this hike dragged on for so long and then suddenly I just apparated to the finish line. As if this hike was a novel wherein the first chapter never seemed to end and everything happened and then the second chapter was a page long and included the words ‘the end’. I am simultaneously not at all ready for this to be over, and so ready for it to be. I don’t know. I am not emotionally mature enough in this precise moment to really understand how I’m feeling. All I do know is that there will be crying tomorrow. For now though I’m going to pretend I don’t need to be a grown up and deal with my feelings and instead I’m gonna flirt with strangers that I’m never gonna meet on tinder. #Iamnotanadult
Also, today I saw the world’s prettiest cows, look!!