The Hike

Lucy Clarke

The following is an exclusive excerpt from The Hike, by Lucy Clarke. In the following passage, a woman out for an excursion in nature is warned against continuing her journey. Lucy Clarke was inspired to write The Hike after spending five days trekking through the wild, rugged beauty of Norway with a tent on her back. She is the author of seven other destination thrillers, which have sold more than a million copies around the world.

Liz strode across the valley, sun on her face, long grass brushing her lower legs. The air smelled of ozone and pine.

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She smiled: they were out here, the four of them, hiking beneath a wide, blue Norwegian sky, tents on their backs! She felt strong and fit, her hiking boots sturdy on the even, giving ground.

Patrick always joked that Liz was really a six-foot person trapped in a five-foot body. The twins complained that she walked too fast—but she loved striding out, feeling her heart rate climb.

They’d already passed the lake and ascended a hillside, where they’d stopped for lunch, leaning against their packs while eating sandwiches prepared for them in the lodge kitchen. Now they were enjoying the last of the flat terrain as they crossed the valley bottom. Layers of undulating green stretched as far as the eye could see, meadow rolling into tree-lined hillside, climbing into mountain. The breeze was gentle, the sun full and bright.

She paused, glancing back. The others were a distance behind her, the drift of their voices mingling with the far-off tinkle of sheep bells. Maggie was at the rear, spine curved under the weight of her pack. Liz had recently read an article about the demotivating effects of being at the rear of a group—and made a mental note to make sure Maggie took a turn leading.

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Up ahead, a fallen log lay at the side of the path. She paused there to give the others the chance to catch up. She shrugged her pack from her shoulders and took out her water bottle, absorbing the view.

The path through the valley intersected farmland. In the distance, there was a traditional red clapboard barn. A tractor was parked in front of it, huge cylinder bales of hay shrink-wrapped in plastic sheeting. Beside the barn was a small house, chimney smoking. She wondered what it must be like to live somewhere so remote. It looked beautiful on a sunny day like this, but what about in winter when the fields were covered in snow and the track leading in and out wouldn’t be plowed?

Liz felt a prickling sensation at the back of her neck and had the feeling she was being watched.

She turned.

A thickset woman in dark trousers was standing at the edge of the field, leaning her forearms on a fence post. She looked a decade older than Liz, her skin tanned and weathered.

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“God morgen!” Liz called.

“Hiking the Svelle trail?” she asked in perfect English, eyes warm.

“Yes, that’s right.”

She pushed her lips together, then turned and looked west in the direction of the coast. “Have you checked the weather?”

“Yes.” She’d checked three weather apps this morning, until she found one that gave her a forecast she liked. The first two had shown lightning and thunderstorms tomorrow evening. The third hadn’t.

“A low pressure is coming. It will bring a storm tomorrow.”

Liz glanced up at the clear, bright blue sky. “We’ve got waterproofs.”

The woman smiled lightly, but her voice was firm as she said, “Better to wait until it passes, ja?”

They couldn’t wait. This was their window. It was either set out today or not do it at all. She wasn’t disregarding the woman’s advice—this was her territory, not Liz’s—but they couldn’t derail the entire trip based on one person’s opinion. If there was a storm, they’d take shelter. They would handle it. She glanced over her shoulder and, spotting Joni, felt a guilty flush in her neck.

“Tell your friends to turn back,” the woman said quietly, seriously. Then she pushed away from the fence line and crossed the field.

Turning around just wasn’t an option. Liz needed this. She pictured returning home to the uncertainty of everything that awaited her and having failed at this one thing. No. She wouldn’t let that happen.

Liz glanced at her friends. Joni was singing, fingertips dusting the long grass. Maggie’s cheeks were flushed with the sun. Helena was walking straight-backed, no phone pressed to her ear. They all needed this just as much as Liz did. She wouldn’t make a choice based on fear.

When they reached her, Joni asked, “What did the lady say?”

Liz hesitated only for a moment. “That it’s a beautiful day for hiking.”


From THE HIKE. Used with the permission of the publisher, PUTNAM. Copyright © 2023 by LUCY CLARKE. All rights reserved.

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