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7th October
posted by amber

Future Hiker

Brady had the latest hiking gear – hobnail boots, wool pants and a cotton shirt, compass, canvas backpack, tarp, a bedroll, an axe, and simple food supplies such as a bag of rice and some cans of fruit and vegetables. He had paper and pencil to draw the map of his route as he explored it. He’d chosen not to bring a gun, but he had snare wire and fishing line and lures.

His wife dropped him off at the wilderness trailhead. Ten days later she’d return to pick him up after his adventure.

On the first day, Brady had problems with the boots. They fit poorly and had virtually no cushioning. The wool socks didn’t help – unlike his modern wool socks, these were scratchy and thin. The only good thing was that his blisters, not relieved by the historic cloth bandages, distracted him somewhat from the aches in his shoulders caused by the pack’s leather straps and from his craving for gorp.

The second day was worse. His skills at cooking over an open fire turned out to be poor, thus his dinner the night before and his breakfast that morning were culinary disasters – burned rice for dinner, over-cooked oatmeal for breakfast, chewy boiled coffee at both meals. His night had been uncomfortable. He hadn’t realized how much of a sense of security – albeit false – the walls of his tent had provided. The open-sided shelter created by the tarp felt like no shelter at all. Every slight noise in the woods made him wish he’d opted for the gun after all.

He struggled through the woods at less than a quarter of the speed he normally made, not making any effort to map his route. He made camp early so that he could try his hand at fishing in the stream, but he had no luck.

On the third day he decided to turn back. It didn’t matter to him any longer how many hikers were bragging about their ability to survive in the woods the old-fashioned way, how many had summited Everest without ‘cheating’ by using technological aids like clothing designed to negate the effects of low temperatures, oxygen and radio communication. This modern hiking fad was just not for him.

The Story 365 project is a year-long marathon of short story writing, with a new story written every day and posted on this website from May 1, 2011 – April 30, 2012. Stories must be a minimum of 200 words. Please help me by adding first line suggestions in the Comment section.

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