Bergen - Mile 343 - Aug 9th, 2018
Planning and executing a trek like the one that Liam, Sam, Kristian, and I just completed is not an easy task. I've discussed in previous blog posts some of the logistical problems that can arise due to issues in food rationing, timing, and gear acquisition and maintenance. Being in the backcountry for an extended period of time is a certain kind of hard work that takes a certain type of person; not only must you be able to deal with bad weather, hunger, thirst, a heavy pack, difficult terrain, sore feet, chafing, joint pain, and just about any other difficulty you can imagine, you need to, despite all that, have a good time. If you don't, why come in the first place?
Luckily, I was blessed with just about the best three trail partners I could have asked for. Liam, Sam, and Kristian took hardship in stride, and each contributed their own sense of humor that helped lift the whole crew through the hard times, and helped make the fun times even better. I honestly don't believe we would have had nearly as successful of a trip as we did, if not for the complementary skills and personalities of all four of us.
Of course, we faced our share of adversity, conflict, and general unfunness on our five weeks on the trail. However, as the trek went on, those moments became less and less frequent, as we found solutions to the logistical and interpersonal issues that brought them about. I am confident that the lessons we learned from those moments will continue to help us throughout our lives. I can personally attest to the fact that each and every one of us has markedly grown as a person through the last month and a half.
Of course, the four of us could never have achieved what we did entirely on our own. We owe a huge amount of gratitude to the countless people and organizations who helped us throughout the planning process, on the trail, and continue to provide love and support to us even after the trek is over.
I'd first like to thank the parents of the whole crew: Lisa and Stephen Emsbo-Mattingly, Rod Cole and Debra Heaton, Liz Alia and Einar Ronquist, and my own parents, Carolyn Goldstein and Jon Haber. Every one of these people were supportive of our trek from the start, but not blindly so; they made sure to involve themselves in our planning, enough to ensure their comfort with our safety, but not so much that it interfered with our autonomy. I'd like to give a special thanks to the Coles for hosting a pre-trek planning meeting at their house, to Kristian's parents for hosting us in their house while we prepared for the hike, and to my parents and Liam's for generously putting us up for a few nights after the hike was over.
I'd like to thank the Vigander family for hosting us our first few nights in Norway, and for generously covering the costs of our DNT memberships. I'd like to thank the staff of NOLS Scandinavia, expecially Maija and Oscar, for helping us plan and generously opening their base to us. I'd also like to thank DNT, STF, and Metsahallitus, for maintaining the hundreds of kilometers of trail we hiked across, as well as providing inexpensive (or sometimes even free) lodging opportunities throughout the Nordic region, as well as countless other hiker services. I'd like to thank all the people we met along the trail who provided us with information, fellowship, and sometimes even food. I'd like to give a special thanks to Inger Marie and Mikkel Nilut for providing us with selfless and critical assistance in a time of need.
Lastly, I'd like to thank everyone who pledged to our fundraiser for IWGIA, an amazing charitable organization that fights for the rights of indigenous groups worldwide. As it happens, today as I'm writing this is the UN International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples. For more information, check out un.org/en/events/indigenousday/. I'm pleased to announce that we've succeeded in raising more than $1100 for them! If you pledged on our HikeFor page, please remember to actually donate your pledged amount to IWGIA; I'll send out a separate message for all of our sponsors, with info on how to do so. If you haven't donated yet and wish to, you still can! If you're able, we'd really appreciate your support for this fantastic charity. Every bit counts!
Eli, Liam, Sam, and Kristian
Bergen - Mile 343 - Aug 9th, 2018