I woke up to the sudden gust of wind coming through the window, sending a rippling chill down my spine. My eyes were drawn to the bright, gleaming moon outside my window. I knew if I got out of bed to try to fix that window, it would stay the exact way, so I didn’t even bother. That night I could not sleep, so I simply stared at the moon. The moon brought me a sense of peace that has been lacking these last few weeks. My son, Thomas, is the brightest little child who deserves better than this crummy house, this crummy town. He deserves to go to a great school. We live in a small town in Norway called Liten Rygg. At night-time, it can get down in the ’20s. My son shouldn’t have to sleep with five blankets just to keep him warm because I can’t afford to fix the broken window in my home. I became overwhelmed with all these feelings of guilt, so I drew my attention back to the moon. It was then that I created a plan. A plan to turn both mine and Thomas’s life around. First, I needed to get a new job. I needed to get out of this crummy home, this crummy town. This plan brought me peace, except for the fact that you have to act on plans for them to happen. I will figure it out, I always do. My eyes then felt heavy. The bright moon shining in my eyes was now covered and all I saw was darkness.
I woke up the next morning at 6:30 am, yeah, bright and early. I crept by Thomas’s room and made my way to the kitchen. I had a sudden craving for bread and jam, even though we didn’t have bread nor jam. My neighbor, Silvia, always has freshly baked bread. I decided to walk over to her house before Thomas woke up. I pulled the wool coat over my body and opened the door, which by the way made a screeching noise, of course. The cold, bitter air spread through my body faster than a lightning bolt. I looked in the windows of the homes next to me, covered in frost. I reached Silvias home. She had a beautiful home let me tell you. It was bright red, had white trimmed windows, lush grass on the roof, and a beautiful walkway up to her front door. I dreamed of having a home like this. If I follow my plan, my dream could become a reality. She gave me a woven basket with a warm, fresh loaf of bread. The smell of the cooked dough rose out from the basket and filled my nose with the most lovely smell. I walked back to my home shivering from the bitter Norwegian air. Thomas is seven years old, I have been raising him all by myself for the past six years. My husband, Kenneth died from an incurable disease a year after sweet Thomas was born. Raising Thomas on my own has been a real struggle, especially having no steady income. I wanted a change. I wanted to live in a beautiful house and I wanted Thomas to go to a good school that would set him up to have a great future. Again, I was filled with so many feelings of guilt and sorrow and sadly, there was no moon to look at. No moon to relieve me from my stress and worry. I entered Thomas’s room to wake him up. He was all curled up in his blankets looking so innocent and calm. I fed him toast with jam and decided it was time to tell him about my plan. “Thomas” I said in a soft voice, “I have a plan that’s going to make our lives better forever.” “You do?!” he replied in an exciting voice. “I do darling, but I warn you, some things are going to change.” I started telling him about my plan. We were going to move to Stein Bekk, located on the other side of the Scandinavian Mountains. This town is absolutely beautiful. I traveled there when I was a young child. I loved the feel of it, simple yet upbeat. The homes are beautiful, there are more job opportunities, and my most favorite part, it has beautiful cobblestone streets that make you feel like you are in a fairytale. I knew that moving there would grant me a better job and a better school for Thomas. It would set us both up for success. There were a few things I would need to figure out before we would act on this plan. I do not have a car and I cannot afford a plane ticket for both Thomas and me to fly over the Scandinavian Mountains. We would have to backpack through them. I know a few people who have done it with somewhat success, meaning, they reached their destination at some point. We would sleep in a tent each night. I was not thrilled about having to hike through the Scandinavian Mountains alone with my 7-year-old son, but I knew a bright future was on the other side. Thomas didn’t make many friends here, so leaving this town wouldn’t be a problem for him. I told him we were going to leave in two days.
That night, I laid in my bed looking at the moon. I was filled with mixed emotions. I was excited to reach a new town, one that didn’t have tiny homes, only one coffee shop, one local farm, broken streets, rain falling from the sky 95% of the day, and silence that filled me with the utmost loneliness. I’ve never been super religious, but when I become overly stressed or worried, I look at the moon and pray. It brings me a sense of peace and comfort that my husband used to bring me. That night I looked at the moon for around half an hour, praying that we would make it over the mountains safe, that we would have a better life on the other side. I fell asleep chilled by the cold, bitter air coming through the broken window. That morning, I started to pack for Stein Bekk. I borrowed two backpacks from our neighbor Silvia. With her age, she’s not going to need them anytime soon. We would be carrying everything on our backs, so we had to pack the bare essentials. Two outfits for me, two outfits for Thomas, two jackets, one blanket, a flashlight, hatchet, first aid kit, a few cooking supplies, canned food Silvia gave us, a fire starter, our tent, sleeping bags, and a water purifier. Packing up the bags filled me with much anxiety. Were we going to stay safe? Will we have enough food? Will the storms in the mountains be dangerous? Will we encounter any wildlife? I tried to focus my mind on the other side of the trip, reaching Stein Bekk. In the morning, we would be waking up with the sun and taking off.
I woke up just as the sun rose above the hill. The light from the sun slowly but surely filled my room with a glowing yellow color. Thomas was in a deep sleep and I felt bad for waking him up. I made eggs and bacon because I knew it would give us enough protein for the long hike ahead. I looked at the thermostat and read 20 degrees Fahrenheit. We covered our bodies with as many layers as we could. I felt like I was forgetting something, then I remembered my necklace Kenneth gave me for our first anniversary. I ran into my room and grabbed it off the nightstand, then placed it on my neck. Once it touched my skin, I was filled with peace and I was no longer anxious about our journey ahead. I put the key on the counter for the landlord and we left. Left the house that was half broken, didn’t have heat, had broken windows, doors, and floorboards. As soon as we stepped outside, a sudden chill filled our bodies. “Mom I’m cold,” Thomas said right when we got outside. “Once we start moving our bodies we will warm-up, don’t worry my Thomas.” We walked through the town, noticing all of the small homes and closed shops. We walked up to the main trailhead we would take across the mountains to get to Stein Bekk. There were a lot of hikers there, mainly tourists, as it is a huge tourist attraction. I took a map out of the box at the front of the trailhead. The total length of the trail was twelve miles, we would be doing five today, five tomorrow, and two the following day. We started up the trail at 7:30 am. It was absolutely stunning. The rolling hills, wildflowers, streams, rivers, and cliffs were captivating. Our packs weren’t too heavy, so the hike wasn’t too difficult. We were about half a mile in, sitting on a rock for a snack break when I heard a howl. Usually, you hear multiple howls because wolves travel in packs, but it was just one. The howl got closer and closer, but I didn’t see any trace of wolves. Thomas became filled with fear, so I had to comfort him, also trying to comfort myself. We kept hiking and the sound got closer. I got my hatchet out of my pack and carried it in one hand, holding Thomas’s hand tight in the other. I kept my eyes peeled and scoped out our surroundings. I looked behind and saw a sudden figure. It was in the shape of a wolf, but it was see-through. I only saw it for a flash of a second until it disappeared. I was never one to believe in ghosts, but I was sure what I just saw was a wolf ghost. At that moment, I had no clue what to do. According to the map, the warming hut was about half a mile away. I decided we should walk to it. My heart was pounding and my mind was filled with fear, terror, and worry. The only thing at that moment that filled me with peace was the landscape. The beauty around me was truly moving to my soul. It removed my feelings of anxiety with feelings of peace. There was a river that flowed along the side of the trail. The sound of the river, birds, and sudden gusts of wind filled my ears. Thomas loved nature almost as much as me. He loved seeing the birds flying in the air and the insects along the trail. He had a bright smile across his face which transformed to mine. The fresh, crisp, clear Norweigen air was refreshing. I no longer felt the need to hold the hatchet in my hand, in case the ghost-like wolf came back. I put it back into my pack and Thomas and I kept hiking. I saw the hut in the distance. I was able to take a breath of relief when it came into my vision. Thomas and I walked into the small, warm hut. There were a few people in there who were also backpacking, which made me feel safer knowing there would be other backpackers in the same area as us. The man at the front desk offered us water and little snacks. We took our packs off and refueled ourselves. I talked to a few of the other backpackers and wanted to ask if they have seen or heard of the wolf ghost, but I didn’t want them to think I was crazy.
We stayed in the hut for about thirty minutes, then decided to go back out to keep up our pace so we could reach five miles in. Thomas started to get very tired, so we had to take frequent breaks. We reached our tent site at 6:30. Thomas helped me set up our tent and we started to unpack our cooking supplies. Once the tent was set up, I made rice and beans for dinner. Thomas went to gather wood for the fire. “Stay where I can see you, Thomas,” I said. I set up the inside of our tent with blankets and our sleeping bags when I heard a loud, piercing scream coming from Thomas. I quickly ran out of the tent and ran up the hill where Thomas was standing in shock. I ran up and hugged him saying, “My darling what happened, are you ok?”. “Mother, I just saw a gh gh gh.” “Say it Thomas. A what?” “A ghost,” he said in a terrified voice. He saw the wolf ghost as well. Now, we are both filled with the same amount of fear and anxiety. He had only heard it earlier, but now that he’s seen it, it will be harder for him to forget about it. We gathered up the sticks he had collected and walked back down to our tent. I took out the hatchet from my pack and kept it close. I made dinner as fast as I could. Thomas and I ate our food very quickly. He was shaking out of fear and I tried to comfort him, but I knew nothing I could do or say would make him feel better. I wish I had someone to try to calm me because quite frankly, I was scared for my life. I then thought of Kenneth. I missed him. I held my necklace tight in my hand. Thomas went inside the tent to get ready for bed. I sat on the log and watched the moon become visible from the clouds covering it. I stared at the moon and prayed. Prayed for the safety of Thomas and me. I prayed that we would get to Stein Beckk safe and sound. I went into the tent with Thomas and we both settled in for bed. I told Thomas all about Stein Bekk. The beautiful creeks that run along the street, the cobblestone streets, and the big beautiful homes. He was especially excited about the big homes. He was also excited to meet new friends. I hope it will be all he and I hoped for. I told Thomas a story to help him fall asleep and in the middle of my story, I saw a flash of light, then thunder. Out of nowhere, it started to rain. The rain was beating on the tent with so much power, almost as if it was giant pebbles hitting the tent. The flashes of lightning and thunder terrified Thomas. Going into this trip, I knew there would be storms, but not this bad. I held Thomas close and felt his heart beating fast. The next thunder rumble followed with a howl. A loud howl. Louder than any others we have heard. Longer too. It was close, very close. Thomas simply froze in fear and so did I. It seemed as if the wolf ghost was right outside our tent. We obviously couldn’t hear any footsteps because well, it’s a spirit or something, so we had to determine how close it was by how loud the howl was. I heard some of the pots and pans I accidentally left outside get knocked over. Thomas started screaming and I tried my hardest to comfort him. I put the hatchet close to me in case the wolf ghost came closer. There was a mesh part of the tent located directly above our tent. The moon was shining right through. I prayed the hardest I have ever prayed in my entire life. Then, the moon was again covered by the clouds. We didn’t hear any howls or things being knocked over for fifteen minutes, so I had assumed it finally left us. Thomas cried himself to sleep and I laid there in bed. I was so incredibly terrified and simply had no clue what to do. I closed my eyes and tried to think about the beautiful scenery we saw today. My mind ran with the rolling hills, creek, and clouds that seemed to be in such a rush to get somewhere. The storm suddenly stopped. There were no more flashes or thunder, it was now quiet. I listened to the gusts of wind, crickets, and streams that were close to our tent. Then, I heard a voice. All I could make out was “I’m here to protect you.” My first thought was, “Was this God talking to me?”, but again, I’m not super religious. Even though I didn’t know where the voice came from, it filled me with peace and reassurance. I fell asleep soon after that.
The following morning, Thomas and I ate fast and started the next five miles. There were many branches knocked down from the storm. It was a beautiful day, the birds were singing, the sun was shining, and there was not a cloud in the sky. We walked up a steep hill and at the top was the wolf ghost. It was simply standing there. It did not look angry, which was good because I didn’t want to get attacked. Thomas and I just stood there staring at the ghost wolf. It stared at us too. Then, it sprinted to us. Screams came out of our mouths at the same time. I grabbed the hatchet out of my pack and ran to hide behind a large rock. It got closer and closer. I threw the hatchet at it, but it just went right through the ghost. Then, it ran away. When we left the shield of the rock, we walked up the hill. There was a hut at the bottom of the hill. We walked down to it. Inside was an old man who offered us water and food. He said, “I heard some screaming, was that you two?” “Yes sir, that was us.” He replied with a little giggle “My guess is you saw the wolf ghost.” When he first said that, I was confused because he said it so calmly. He then went on to tell us all about the ghost. He said it has been roaming around these mountains for several years. He said it is known as the guardian wolf spirit. It is a ghost wolf that follows backpackers on their journey across these mountains. I told him about how it tried to kill us. “That wolf spirit? He wouldn’t hurt a soul.” I felt stupid and just started to laugh. I told him about how I thought we were going to die. I also told him about the storm and the voice I heard. Turns out, the voice that said, “I am here to protect you,” was the wolf spirit. I was filled with relief and peace, something I haven’t felt for the last twenty-four hours. He told Thomas and me all about how scared backpackers come into his hut, concerned about the wolf. Turns out, the wolf ghost has helped lots of people get across the mountains safely. I left the hut feeling confident and safe. We got to our campsite late that night and fell asleep very quickly. I woke up that morning with the sun. Thomas was still sleeping, so I snuck out of the tent and watched the sunrise. The sun slowly rose above the hills and it made everything colorful. The flowers became bright and the grass looks greener than ever. When Thomas woke up, he came out and watched the sunrise with me. I put my arm around him and squeezed him tight. The sun moved up our faces and made us look like glowing figures. We packed up our stuff and hiked the last two miles. A mile in, the wolf ghost appeared out of the trees, but I was not scared this time, I was calm. The wolf walked up to us and sat about ten feet away from us. He apologized for frightening us so much and told us he was following us to keep us safe. He said most backpackers get into a difficult situation and he helps them out of it. The wolf left and before he got too far, I yelled, “Thank you for protecting people wolf spirit.” It looked back at us and left. We reached the end of the trailhead and I was filled with relief and excitement. We reached the town of Stein Bekk. It was just as I imagined. The houses were colorful and large, the cobblestone gave me fairytale vibes, and the sound of the creeks running everywhere made me feel like I was home. Home for good. This was going to be a new start for Thomas and me. It was going to be good, I felt it in my heart. We would be staying in a cheap bed and breakfast that night. Tomorrow, we will go house hunting and I will look for a job. I looked back on our venture across the Scandinavian Mountains and smiled. At that point, I knew when I felt stressed, I could simply think about the luscious hills, birds singing, and wildflowers to bring me instant peace. We did it. We reached our destination safely, all thanks to the wolf ghost. The wolf ghost acted as a guardian during our trip. I felt something really bad would’ve happened if that spirit wasn’t with us. Who knows, maybe that storm could’ve taken our whole tent off the ground, but instead, we stayed inside it safe and warm. That trip forever changed my life. It brought me to my new life here in Stein Bekk. The Scandinavian Mountains are a safe place for me, and I know I will be able to go there whenever I need to. Anyway, that’s my story of the wolf ghost. I’m sure other backpackers have other stories to share.