A Chapter Ends
I am sad and grateful, fighting back tears through a smile. The final leg by bicycle, to Grense Jakobselv and the open Barents Sea was completed on Friday. The weather window was short but ideal. I took my usual bike and trailer rig, with a few extra celebratory supplies, and Helene provided the company and local knowledge. These are a very special last 60km: arctic vegetation struggles to hold onto 2.6 billion year old rock, half the age of the earth. At last a true sense of wilderness and silence.
The final 10km are along a gorge, with Russia just a stone's throw away across the river, though stone throwing is explicitly prohibited.
With 5km to go we pick up some wood for a fire, Helene has pre-arranged the drop. The couple who put out the wood invite us for a coffee. The warmth of the Norwegians really extends from border to border.
We are nearly there, just 3km of bouncy track to go, when the trailer gives out. It drags me off the road and now lays there arm busted. With gear slung over backs we make the final miles and arrive at the estuary hamlet. My favourite place? Maybe.
The sunset is fitting. We camp on a suitably perfect grassy knoll; cook reindeer meat and potatoes in cream over open fire. A band of light goes contrary to the direction of the thin high cloud. Soon after the aurora begins and at times the entire sky is painted in strokes of green. The display lasts an hour or so. More than ever, I know this is the end.
The trailer is kaput, we recover it the next day by car, in rain and wind. The old rocks now dusted with snow.
I had been considering cycling back to the UK, making use of ferry from Esbjerg (Denmark) to Harwich, but learn that this service is discontinued. Helene also asks if I want to cycle back. The truth is: no. Now I would like to go and see my family. I book a flight. Easy as that. And again the tears flow.