A menacing wind kept throwing tiny frozen gauntlets at my face, challenging me to keep running despite the fact that said gauntlets had built a thick layer of ice on my glasses and I couldn't see a thing. Not that I was so keen on seeing the endless hill that lay before me. It went on forever.
I had braved the icy rain and headwind to run up the hill and see what condition the snowmobile track by the lake looked like. Our coach had told me last Saturday that there was a map of snowmobile tracks online, and I had found it, revealing a whole new, exciting world that just waited out there for someone like me to come and explore it. This particular snowmobile track went past the tall hill I've had my eye on the last few days. But when I got there, I saw that it hadn't been used in a while, which would make it difficult to run on. This particular project will have to wait until spring.
|That's the one, in the distance. Doesn't look like much, but appearances can be deceiving.|
I continued on the road. There was no traffic and I had left the last houses of the town behind me. The wind growled in my face and slapped me with sleet, but I stubbornly fought back. It was a strange feeling, being here all alone. I was close to civilisation, but at the same time I was in the middle of a forest. A bruised sky was hanging low over my head, threatening to bring down doom upon me. I couldn't help thinking about the bear that was said to have awoken and gone for a stroll in the area, and when I saw some big tracks in the snow I just had to stop and look.
|It came from the clearing on the left side of the road...|
|...and disappeared into the woods on the right side of the road.|
No idea what animal made those, but it was big. My foot could easily fit in one of them. Not saying that it was a bear; maybe it was a moose. But the thought stayed with me even after I took a right turn onto a westwards forest road. I caught myself looking nervously at the trees around me a few times. Spooked? You bet.
The feeling that I was the last person left in the world and that I was running through a post-apocalyptic landscape persisted. The smell of chopped wood suddenly hit my nostrils, surprising me. I could see no chopped wood anywhere around me. The mystery was solved a couple of hundred metres later, when I came across a cabin, deserted by the looks of it, half-hidden behind a pile of tree trunks.
I have obviously watched way too many horror movies. My imagination was working overtime, creating scenarios about wild animals jumping at me from the woods or ill-willed strangers hiding in the cabin taking an interest in me. I blame the wind. Add some screeching violins and it would have been the perfect soundtrack to a Hitchcockian bloodbath.
I turned and ran back the same way. I could now hear barking in the distance. It sounded like a dog, but with the wind carrying and distorting all sounds it could have been anything. A deer. A snowmobile. As I got back to the main road, I felt how the wind was now on my back, gently pushing me up the hills. When the wind is on your back, life feels easier. Safer. Once I was back among the houses, I smiled a little bit. The run had been fun and exciting after all.