Photo by Joseph Cline
I woke up to my obnoxious alarm and stumbled out of bed, half asleep, into my kitchen on a quest for a snack. I slipped into my camoflage overalls that I only wear when I was going on an adventure, accompanied by my protective neon bucket hat. To say the least, I looked like a nutty kook.
As I do every day, I left my house for school with my backpack. However, that day I packed a hammock, a tarp, some duct tape, two hot dogs, a GoPro camera and a box of matches in place of my usual school supplies. I had thought of the idea for an expedition ten days prior while watching Bear Grylls navigate through a jungle in his show, “Man vs. Wild.” I was bewitched by the show and confidently knew I could do what he did: survive in the wilderness.
I decided my first mission as future Bear Grylls would be to survive in the wild for 24 hours with only limited supplies. But first I had to sit through the seven hour school day. After school, I hauled down Highway 69 to my family’s piece of land at 379th and Somerset. Hopping out of my Honda CRV, I waved goodbye to society and journeyed into the wilderness with my supplies.
My first task was crafting a basecamp. Being nothing more than a self-proclaimed man of nature, my vision of creating a tarp canopy above the hammock didn’t work out. Putting my faith in Mother Nature and hoping for nice weather, I moved on to locating firewood and a stick for my hot dogs.
I trekked all around my property looking for a good roasting stick, not long into my search my stomach began to grumble. On my way I spotted a small slimy frog. I thought to myself that Bear Grylls probably would have ate it to survive. I contemplated doing so and picked the little sucker up. His webbed feet and slimy frog skin grossed me out. I did not eat it.
I continued my journey, and as I got closer to the nearby creek, I realized my phone was missing from my pocket. In a frantic state of mind, I retraced my steps back to a familiar low-hanging tree and stopped for a second. Looking down, I was relieved to see my phone on the ground until I realized it was shattered, destroyed by Mother Nature herself.
When my phone cracked I knew Bear wouldn’t have cared, so I tried to not let it get to me. It did, the first sign that told me I was not up to par with Bear.
Next, I went down into the creek and spontaneously decided to take a dip in the water. After Stirpping down to my boxers, I gracfully belly-flopped into about ten inches of water. Shortly after impact, I felt my knee hit the rocky bottom of the creek and came out with a flesh wound. With an injured knee I re-dressed myself and headed back to basecamp.
Once home, I built a little house of wood about a foot tall with dead grass inside. I then dropped several matches on the bottom floor and watched as a fire appeared in front of my eyes.
I popped a hot dog on a pointy stick and roasted it to perfection, then ate it off the stick as I would a marshmallow and repeated this with my second dog. Once finished with my meal I checked my phone and saw that it was almost eight. I thought that was the longest five hours of my life, and decided to take a walk to stretch out a bit before going to bed.
I didn’t make it far before daylight disappeared. On the short walk back, I had a hard time navigating without a nightlight and stumbled over a rock and felt a pain in my left knee. After hobbling back to my hammock and examining my leg, I quickly diagnosed myself with a torn ACL. I couldn’t help but think my upcoming GABL basketball season would be over before it began. I doubted I would ever be like my idol.
With a throbbing knee I struggled my way into my sleeping bag. Every time I had previously gone to my farm, I had always heard coyotes at night. I had hoped that night would be different, but it wasn’t. As I dozed off I could hear them howling in the near distance. I got the chills and told myself they wouldn’t eat me in my sleep. If I was able to walk I probably would have packed up and gone to sleep in my car, but I stayed. I knew Bear would have.
I slept like a baby in a hammock, until I woke up right before 7 a.m. to rain sprinkling on my face. I knew I should have taped that tarp up, Mother Nature was playing with me.
Luckily the rain passed after only 10 minutes, so I just laid in my hammock and looked up at the trees while I assessed my injuries. My knee had made a miraculous recovery in the night, but a new pain had arisen in my collar bone. I guessed I had just slept on it weird.
While I swayed in my hammock, I told myself that I had survived the bulk of the wild, and I would be able to write a story if I left before the 24 hour mark. I had little interest in staying there for seven more hours.
My one goal was to stay for 24 hours and I couldn’t even manage to do that. Bear’s challenges are much more tough and longer than mine was. While driving home, I found out I was best suited for air conditioning than the outdoors. And I also realized I would never be like Bear.