Day 24 St. Olav’s, August 8th, 22km, Kong Carl Johans Klev > Vuku
True Love Digs a Cat Hole
My first thought upon waking, before I even opened my eyes, was “it’s 12.5 miles to groceries.” I knew we had enough food for breakfast, but it was going to be a long day before we got to refuel. I was already a little panicky.
I woke up and swung my legs out of the tent to this lovely view. For a moment, it distracted me from the grocery issue.
We made coffee and finished off the rest of our rations: a generous serving of granola and some fatty meat sticks. I felt good about the staying power, a strong blend of fiber, protein, and fat.
We packed away camp, crossed the sketchy suspension bridge, and got back on the trail. I was focused, ready to chip away at the 12.5 miles as fast as I could. But then, in the grass along the trail, we spotted something. It was tiny and red, so familiar and yet so foreign.
A tiny, wild strawberry.
I popped one in my mouth and was shocked at how full of flavor it was. How was it possible that something so tiny could taste so good?
We started collecting them, stooping awkwardly with our giant packs. After we each had a heaping handful, we decided to keep moving. The tasty treat took the edge off my grocery store anxiety.
We were walking along a desolate stretch of the trail when my stomach rumbled. And then it rolled. I slowed my pace until the wave passed. A few minutes later, the wave hit again. It hit so hard that I stopped and loosened the belt on my pack. It seemed that the combination of granola, black coffee, and meat sticks had hit bottom.
I was beginning to sweat as my guts rumbled more aggressively. I started looking around for anywhere I could use for cover. The trail was right by the highway, and even though there was very little traffic, there wasn’t even a ditch I could duck down into for some privacy.
I alerted Andy to my distress and emphasized the urgency.
Thankfully, we saw a grove of trees in the distance. I shuffled toward cover. Andy was ahead of me and was getting out the small trowel and toilet kit we had packed. I was taking off my pack when another hard wave hit my guts.
“Andy, I don’t think I can squat down to dig a hole. I’m so sorry. Can you help me?”
And so he did. Even in my sweaty, rumbly state, I was touched by the act of love and service. Only someone who really loves you would dig a cat hole for you.
Then I revealed to Andy that I had never pooped in the wild before.
“What? Really? How is that possible?”
“I don’t know, but I haven’t and I’m really nervous.”
“Well, you don’t have much of a choice, so good luck.”
“Ok but… can you go over there by the road? Don’t look. And don’t listen.”
I approach the hole. I take my phone out of my back pocket and set it nearby. I tucked my sunglasses in my bra. I had toilet paper, a plastic bag, the trowel, and hand sanitizer. All systems go.
I dropped my pants and squatted.
And then the cool wind hit me. And I started laughing. I felt so exposed and so vulnerable and awkward. I settled in for the download, but I couldn’t stop laughing.
Andy called from the road, “Are…you ok back there?”
I answered, at this point shrieking with laughter, “I’M AN ANIMAL!”
I grabbed my phone because I thought, I should get a picture of my face right now, so I can tell this story to my friends later and have something to illustrate the hilarity of it all.
I took a selfie, then set my phone at a safe distance while I wrapped up the transaction.
I had pulled my pants up and was bending forward to cover the hole with soil when
The sunglasses that had been tucked into my bra fell right into the uncovered cat hole.
Right into the deposit I had just made.
I shrieked, “NOOOOOOO! Oh why God, why?!”
Andy was concerned, but because he promised to keep a respectful distance, he didn’t come running to see what had happened. And I was thankful. I didn’t need anyone else to witness my shame.
I gingerly fished them out, wiped them off, then doused my sunglasses in hand sanitizer. We were going to be on the trail for at least another week, and I wasn’t willing to go without sunglasses. Also, I couldn’t just litter like that, right? “Leave no trace” and all?
I finished covering the hole and sheepishly made my way out of the woods to where Andy was waiting.
“Listen. I dropped my sunglasses in the cat hole. Before I covered it. I cleaned them. It’s fine. The good news is, I got this funny picture of my face during my first wild shit in the woods.”
The Most Perfect Day
Despite my shameful (but hilarious) cat hole moment, that day ended up being one of the best days on the entire trail. The weather was overcast but warm. As we walked along the dirt road of the trail, we noticed that both sides of the trail were thick with raspberry bushes. What a treat!
It felt like I was in a dream. I was eating the raspberries as fast as I could pluck them. The strawberries were great and all, but the raspberries were so much easier to get to because they’re higher off the ground. A warm, summer rain started to fall, but it was so light that we didn’t bother putting on our rain gear.
We continued picking berries and eating our way along the trail until we were soaked and satisfied. It was the most perfect summer day.
That afternoon we arrived in Vuku, tired and damp, happy to finally be in town.
There was a cabin for rent at a campground across the bridge from the grocery store. There was more rain in the forecast, and we thought a night in a dry cabin with a kitchen might be worth the splurge. The campground was otherwise empty, so we called the number listed on the sign and made a reservation. When the owner, an older Norwegian woman, arrived, we were a little shocked at the price she gave us for a night in the primitive cabin. But the clouds were rolling in, so we made a deal.
We dropped our gear at the cabin then walked across the bridge into town for groceries. We treated ourselves and got fixings for tacos, as well as our usual resupply of trail mix, eggs, ramen, cookies, and juice. We were so thankful we splurged on the cabin because as we were walking back with our groceries, it started raining again, this time heavily.
We showered, then hand-washed some of our clothes. We hung them to dry in the heat from the woodstove in the middle of the room. It was a real luxury. Our dinner of tacos was fabulous, and we demolished everything. We fell asleep with full bellies, dry and toasty in our cabin while a cold rain fell outside.