I packed my backpack. Tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, stove, saw, GPS, first aid kit, tool kit, long johns, mittens… And I meticulously prepared the resupply boxes. Russenes, Maze, Kautokeino, Abisko, Sulitjelma… The names were exotic and adventurous. Each box had a number on it indicating how many day rations it contained, and I portioned oatmeal and powdered milk, freeze dried dinners, chocolate and nuts, maps, panty liners, sunscreen and shoe wax. I glide waxed my skies and I borrowed a snow sled. And I broke in my hiking boots. But then something very bad happened.
First, it was like a muscle fever, the familiar soreness one gets from a hard run or weight training. But the dull, aching pain in my calves worsened. Each day I was stiffer than the day before. Six weeks to go and I walked like a stork.
I canceled Easter skiing and saw my friends in Sweden instead. There my calves swelled and stowed until they felt like logs, hammering and cramping when I walked, when I sat, when I biked and when I lay flat. I went home. Of course, I googled. I also saw a GP, a rheumatologist, and my physiotherapist. I gave myself every possible and impossible diagnosis, but the professionals gave me none. I swam. I stretched. I had massages. I slept with a night splint. And I downloaded “The mind-body prescription” from Audible and told myself it was a mental thing. So I went for a run. It was doable, with a limp, on soft ground. But the day after I was very convinced it was not just a mental thing.
Yesterday I saw my GP again, and he told me what I knew deep down inside: “Anne, I think you should mentally prepare yourself for this to take months rather than weeks of healing. If you choose to ignore the pain and start your walk from North Cape to Lindesnes, you might harm your body severely and risk a long-lasting injury.” I bit my lip at the doctor`s office, but as soon as I was out in the waiting room I was just a little girl despite my 45 years, and I called my mum and cried on the phone and then two assistants showed me to a private room and gave me water and tissues and comfort. “And on top of everything I forgot the cake.” It was my last day at work. I`d sold my dental practice where I`d worked for ten years, today should just be a short day finishing my last patients and having lunch with my colleges, and here I was, succumbed in tears with my patients waiting and the cake home in the freezer.
My parents delivered the cake. And I pulled myself together and saw my patients. Then we had lunch and I would never have imagined how sad I would be the last day at work. “We`ve bought you something. It was supposed to be something for your hike.” It was a present. Accompanied by a beautiful, touching farewell card from my colleges. I opened my gift and it was an assortment of chocolates, and I could feel the tears burning in my eyes.
Now it`s one o`clock in the morning. My brother is home from Bergen, and today he and Dad and I pitched a party tent in my garden and set the tables for tomorrow when my cousins and uncles and aunts are coming for our annual family gathering. It looks like it`s going to be a calm and sunny Saturday. But just a few days ago I woke up to a white carpet. I thought of the Prince song; Sometimes it snows in April. But the late spring snow seldom lasts.
I`ve delayed my hike, but I haven`t canceled it. Things could be worse. It`s not like I`ve missed the Olympics. I watched Hilary Clinton`s concession speech this evening – others misfortune makes things a bit easier. Besides, I think it`s a pretty good speech.
I`ve figured out that I can start from North Cape as late as July 1st and still reach Lindesnes before the conditions get too harsh. And if I`m not ready by then, I can do one section this year and the rest next year. In the meantime, I`ll do a lot of swimming. Good thing I`m a swimmer! And Norway is a paddler`s paradise. I might even treat myself with a new kayak.