Christmas in the forest

Fourth day on the trail. Perhaps we’ll get to Bario tomorrow, perhaps not. I don’t really worry about it. On one hand I begin to feel the tiredness, I realize it from my walking pace slowing down more and earlier during the day than it did in the past days. On the other hand I am now used to the weight of the backpack, and I am not in a rush for leaving the forest and the company of my silent guides.

Last night it rained, so the leeches are active and abundant, but the day is sunny as usual. The Sun rays rarely reach the forest floor, but the good weather keeps the trail from being too muddy and the night’s from being too chilly.
I fail to gain an idea of how many people walk this path. Ukau says “many white people”, but he cannot give me a numeric estimate. The notion of quantity, as the one of distance, is very relative among the people if the interior. We have not met any people, of any skin colour, since we left Long Sabai. In many places Ukau and Luat have to reinvent the path because of fallen trees, and they often add earmarks to the old ones covered by new bark and lichens. I fail to imagine “many” people roaming this forest.
My walking skills in the forest have improved, but most of my attention and energy are still invested in finding footholds, not stumbling, and checking where my guides are. It reminds me of an ibterview to an Italian writer and climber (Aldo Nove?) who once went trekking in the Himalaya region. He recalled that he went there for the sceneries and the great soaces, but he ended up spending most of the time during the marches staring at the feet of the guides and porters walking in front of him.

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