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Home » 7 – Family Time and Chance Encounters

7 – Family Time and Chance Encounters

“I was afraid to ask if we could come and see you, since we know you’re doing this run self-supported,” my mom says, wrapping me in a hug. “But we’re just the emotional support team, that’s alright, right?” My dad chirps. He hugs me as well.

Damn. It feels so good to see friendly, known faces.

We walk back to Goslar together, my parents showing me blackberry shrubs and apple trees they’ve discovered along the road. They keep a good pace and the conversation distracts me from my bleeding feet. But by the time we reach the little restaurant my parents had chosen to visit, I’m limping visibly, barely able to keep myself steady. My dad takes my hand for the last few meters. “Still just emotional support,” he says, winking at me.

I order an alcohol-free beer/Fanta mix (Radler) and take off my shoes. The blister on my right heel has turned into a pulsing, bright red lump of skin. It hurts just to gently touch it. “Are you… going to go on tomorrow?” My mom asks carefully. “No way,” I huff. “I need a rest day. She sighs and smiles. “Good. We’ll stay with you.”

The conversation flows easily – which, after a while, confuses me. If you’ve read my Nordkapp story, you might remember how my mom made me promise to never go on a solo trip ever again. And here she is, as calm as a lazy Sunday afternoon.

“I don’t get it,” I’d said in a conversation on the phone just that morning. “The way I judge how adventurous something is, is usually by how freaked out by it my mom is. But even she doesn’t even seem to care!”

My mom turns to me. “So once you’re done with this, do you ever want to run a full marathon?” I blink at her in confusion. My dad stares. “You do know she’s running a marathon every day,” he says, disbelief lacing the sentence. “Actually more than that most days. Mom, you do know I’m running an Ultramarathon, right?” She laughs. “Oh no, I don’t, actually! After the last trip made me so nervous I couldn’t sleep at night, I decided to unfollow you on Instagram, and only read it once you’re safely back home. It’s better for my mental health.”

I gawk. And then break out in tears, I’m laughing so hard. “And I thought you didn’t gave a darn! Oh MAN! When all this time you’ve just been…. oh geez. Oh man. Ah, ignorance is bliss, you’re right.” My mom grins.

“Good to know my anxiety level is how you assess how crazy an idea is.”

Oops. I feel like she’s found a loophole.

We get back to the pension, where my parents have draped my bed with little gifts. A functioning power bank – a third smaller than the one I’ve got with me. My cries of exasperation over the charging situation have been heard. “You guys are the best,” I say, hugging them once more. “Thank you for coming here.”

“We want to go hiking a bit tomorrow, just a little,” they tell me before I head off to bed. “Sure, I can do a kilometer, or two,” I reply. Tomorrow is a rest day. And I will NOT do anything physically exerting, I promise myself.

But serendipity always strikes when you expect it least.

“What are you doing here?!” She laughs. “I’m running through Germany, what about you?” – “I’m climbin- wait, you’re doing what?!” I laugh in response, as we both still process bumping into one another on a random mountain road through the Harzer forest. I had seen climbers on the rocks around – and admittedly, I had sort of expected to perhaps see someone I knew. But to bump into one of my close friends from Magdeburg, Nele, on a random mountain road in the Harz? That’s serendipity for you, I guess.

“I mean, I saw on Instagram that you were doing something weird again, but I’ve been so busy with my studies, I didn’t quite realize how… weird… and how it’s happening right now.” She shoots me a look, her eyes narrowing. “Wait. This isn’t another mental breakdown thing again, is it?!” I remember how worked up Nele had gotten last year on my behalf, when she found out why I had been so sad lately – and then run off on my bike trip adventure. “No, don’t worry, I’m fine, just… wanted to see how far I could run.” She shakes her head, laughing. “You’re nuts.”

Nuts indeed, at your service.

My parents, who were the reason I was on that mountain road in the first place – they’re really into collecting hiking stamps these days – come back to us once they’ve noticed I’m with someone. “Want to stay with them?” My dad gestures at the other climbers with Nele. “Climbing… would be kinda cool, yeah!” He nods. “Alright, we’ll call you when we’re heading back to the car, have fun!”

Climbing on a rest day with friends, after waking up in a comfy bed. Dang, life is nice today.

We find a nice off-width to climb, but belatedly realize we’re missing large enough cams/friends to lead it. The other two climbers, RJ and Christoph, head up a protected climb on the other side, to place the rope on the anchor above our climb. And then Nele and I chat for a while, waiting for her partner, André to show up at the crag. He’s returning from a stag night. “And sounds pretty hungover,” Nele laughs, getting off the phone with him.

By a second, just as weird stroke of luck, he finds my parents, and the three of them join us at the crag. “…..I’m reaching a point where I just can’t be surprised much anymore,” I think.

It feels so good to get to climb again.

Running is great.

Climbing is better.

Being on the rock with friends?

The best.