The days following my ‘rest’ in Innhavet went fairly smoothly, a bit of guilt laden tunnel hopping meaning I made serious progress on the first day and the following couple went pretty much by the book.
Yet again, I met more friendly faces along the way, seeming to rapidly lose any fear of approaching strangers and being lucky that the ones I have approached have been extremely friendly.
I also had the 1000km boundary approaching – an exciting prospect. In Innhavet I had proudly declared I had covered 960km – making it just 40km to the golden marker. Having revisited my notes however, it turns out I had actually done 975km. This, combined with the 15km travelled on my rest day to find an appropriate place to camp, meant that on day 40 I set off with just 10km to complete before I could cross that golden line.
Day 40 – Sunday 11th August – Lakeside to Fauske…
The night I left Innhavet I had planned on a short 10km to find a quiet place to camp and to shorten my next day to 35km. Unfortunately having travelled 10km, I found that there was a distinct lack of places to camp, and so found myself having to walk an extra 5km, all the time losing light as I hadn’t planned to be walking for this long. Eventually I found a small spot next to a stream on the banks of a huge lake – this would have to do I thought to myself as I took off my pack and started to assemble my tent.
One thing I have learnt about myself on this trip is that in order to guarantee a good nights sleep, I had to pitch somewhere where I felt comfortable, or else risk jumping at every feint whisper of a noise outside the tent (in other words I am a massive wimp!). On this occasion I didn’t feel comfortable – there was just something creepy about this spot – but I had ran out of time to be fussy and so just went for it anyway.
At first I was a little bit twitchy – but the steady trickle of the stream and my aching muscles soon sent me to sleep… so far so good.
However after a couple of hours something caused me to wake up. After a short where am I? moment I realised that the noise of the stream had changed – I could here the water flowing differently and the occasional glug – convincing me that something (or more frighteningly someone) was stood in the stream flowing just metres from my head.
My instinct was to freeze – desperately listening to see if I could work out any details. After a few minutes (though it felt longer) I craved human contact and lifted my phone to respond to a text message. Luckily, the lovely person at the other end was still awake and a brief conversation distracted me. After another few minutes I heard a few more glugs and the stream returned to its normal flow. Needless to say I froze again for a good few minutes, but then must have drifted back off into sleep – thankfully this time not waking til morning. I have no idea what was stood in the stream… in fact I am starting to question whether anything was or of my imagination was just on overdrive. But it was scary at the time… and I will be doing my best not to pitch up in a hurry again any time soon!
Anyways onto the day – turns out it was destined to be a wet one and though I passed the 10km (1000km) marker early on, the driving rain and winds meant I didn’t stop to enjoy it, instead opting to put my head down and trudge down the road another 12km or so.
Just as I approached the first tunnel and considered trying to flag someone down for a lift, I was extremely lucky and a lady pulled up next to me and offered me a lift. Explaining that just through the tunnel would be great, and apologising for being so soggy (she did not mind, this was a hire car), I climbed in and we set off. The usual questions of where I was heading and why on earth I was doing it being the first to break the silence. After this, Kristen (to put a name to the driver) examined that tunnels were no place for walkers and that I risked almost certain death every time I entered one. She also told me the next bit of road was more tunnel than road, and was adamant she would take me through all of them safely. When I tried to contest, stating that I had to walk the gaps or I would have a guilty conscience she dismissed this and said that I could blame her, she was giving me no choice but to be safe and so my conscience could be clear.
This was a little easier said than done and as the miles clocked up I felt a little uneasy. Kristen, being the incredibly kind hearted woman she is, could see this written on my face and continued to reassure me this was the sensible thing to do. I began to agree as we pulled up just after the last of the tunnels – now only about 10km outside of a town I was meant to reach in another two days time. As I left the car, Kristen found a bag of food from the boot – gifting me with a huge amount of cheese – something which the very thought of made my mouth water! We hugged and I felt grateful to have met such a wonderful and kind person – we have exchanged contacts too so hopefully this will not be the last time I see her! I did feel guilty about the distance – and a little unsure of how to alter my plans to fit – but for now all I could do was keep walking into the worsening storm towards the town of Fauske.
As I did so I managed to convince myself this was just the universes way of giving me something back for the pain and hold ups earlier in the trip. This may not be entirely true – but it put the negative voices in my head to bed – making me feel much better.
I arrived in Fauske soaking wet and a little battered from the strong winds I seemed to be walking directly into. Searching for a place to eat and charge my phone, I eventually wandered into a petrol station. By chance, in here I met a kayaker whom I had chatted to briefly on the road earlier on. We chatted for a little while- I asked him how his kayaking trip had gone – and we exchanged Facebook details. He advised me that the storm was set to get worse and that it may be worth finding somewhere to stay for the night. Conscious of my bank balance but also really doubting the sleep I would get in this weather, I agreed and set off for a campsite about 4km down the road – delighted when I got there to be offered a cabin for a discounted price of 350kr.
Warm, dry and absolutely stuff fed full of cheese, I slept well that night and was delighted to see the sun poking through the clouds in the morning.
Day 41 – Monday 12th August – Fauske Camping to Røkland…
The following day I had one mission – to conquer tunnel guilt by making good progress on foot. There were three tunnels lined up on my route today, but I would keep any tunnel milage to a minimum and keep plodding on. Through the first and longest of the tunnels this was easy – roadworks meant a safety car was escorting vehicles through and they were happy to give me a lift – dropping me off just outside the other end of the tunnel.
The next two were much shorter (both less than 1km) and had what sort of resembled a path at the side.. so I decided to take a risk and walk them. On the longer of the two I did feel a little faint in the middle- conscious of the fumes I had been warned about I slowed to a walk – but this may have been all in my head. Fortunately apart from this, my tunnel crossings went smoothly and I felt a bit better about the progress I was making.
I covered close to 40km this day and though when I finally went to bed I was tired, I was pleased with the progress I had made and felt my tunnel guilt from the previous day subsiding further. Tomorrow I would have 20km of flat before heading up a mountain pass – the size of which at this point I didn’t know – but I had been warned about by my kayaking friend. It was a little daunting, but at the same time I was looking forward to the challenge, and to getting up in the hills that I had seen standing beautifully in the distance for days, patiently awaiting my arrival…