After more than a week of not doing much (other than cooking, eating, and hanging around) I am in need of physical activity. My body is getting sofa-shaped and my back is getting sore from all the sitting. Today I went walking on Sörmlandsleden.

Christmas wasn’t white, but last night we got a bit of snow, as luck would have it. Everything was covered in a powdery layer of fresh, fluffy snow – very picturesque! The forest looks much prettier in white than in brown and black. Much of it was untouched by human feet, which made it extra beautiful.

Untouched by human feet, but not by any feet. The forest was full of animal tracks. I’ve never hiked after such fresh snowfall before, so I’ve never seen anything like this. I mean, I know in theory that there are animals in the woods. But as a loud and clumsy human walking through the woods, I normally never see them. Maybe a deer in the distance, that’s it. Now I got to see – well, still not the animals, but signs of just how omnipresent they are.

Fox tracks in particular were everywhere along the paths and footbridges. It seemed funny to me at first that a fox would choose to walk on footbridges on Sörmlandsleden. But then again, Sörmlandsleden follows old, established paths, which in turn probably started their lives as animal paths, centuries ago. So it’s not that the fox follows Sörmlandsleden – it’s Sörmlandsleden that follows old fox paths.

Stages 5 and 6 together are about 24-25 km, which is eight hours of walking at my normal hiking pace. Midwinter days are short, so eight hours is just at the limit. I started in the pre-dawn twilight and finished shortly after dark.