Chapter 6 - The Raft

I was getting hungry. I knew humans could survive on little food for some time as long as they had water, and I had fresh water right by my side. I wasn't very concerned, I figured I would just head down the river as fast as I could and find my own food on the way to a new home where I could find better shelter. I didn't hear any voices following me, so there wasn't much of a search yet. I knew I could escape from this torturous family, all I needed was technology.

I decided to build a craft to help myself travel down the river faster. I knew nothing I built would last long or work very well, but there was plenty of dry driftwood I could lift and there were spruce roots in the bank. Spruce roots make great rope, which I learned from women in town who made baskets from them and the bark of birch trees. I wasn't exactly making baskets, but I was intent on building a raft. I set stones under the longer roots I wanted, exposed to the air from the flow of the river. I took a sharp rock and hammered it against the rocks below and the roots, breaking them free one by one until I had a large handful of spruce root rope I could use. I figured this might be useful for snaring small animals as well. I took small branches from spruce trees, laying them on top of a row of logs I had placed on the beach, the ends of each log in the river. Binding the logs to the spruce branches on top with the roots, I had created a simple yet functional raft.

I sat on top of the raft only to feel it give way to my weight slightly. I packed more branches beneath the spruce root binding to keep it tighter. It was plenty top heavy, so I had to lie low. I could lie on my back or stomach on the raft and stay mostly out of the water, steering with my hands. I knew I would get wet in the whitewater, but it was better than just swimming. The water was almost entirely composed of snowmelt in this river, and as such it was the coldest part of the landscape. Satisfied with the protection from the elements I had created with my bare hands, I began to push the raft into the river.

I laid on my stomach, my back arched over the pile of branches which made up the raft. I was mostly dry, with the water splashing against my feet and hands. The water moved quickly, slamming my craft against rocks and pulling into ripping rapids. A few times I fell off and lost the craft, having to swim after it. A particularily large rapid pulled me under and caught the raft, only to throw it into an eddy to the side of the river, breaking from the impact with the rapid. I once again lashed the logs together with the spruce roots, tighter this time, and put myself back on the river.

It was getting dark and I was getting cold. I knew I couldn't stay on the river at night, it simply felt too cold. It would have been more comfortable to travel all day and night given my hunger, but I couldn't do this. So hopped off of my raft, pushed and dragged it into the shallows and finally dragged it a far as I could, about a third of the way onto the shore. The raft was impressivley intact, it had fared well despite the rocky river's rapids. This wasn't encouraging enough to stop me from panicking. I was very cold.

There were mossy groves by the shore but it was starting to get windy. Using a sharp, broken stone, I began cutting as many of the lower branches from spruce trees as I could, which quickly warmed me up. I propped them all against a tree with soft moss underneath, and continued piling up branches until I couldn't feel the wind inside. I didn't know how to make a fire but I couldn't have used one anyway, I was directly under spruce branches. I wasn't warm, but I wasn't hypothermic either. I got up to drink in the middle of the night and felt warmer when I returned to sleep. I could live like this, if only I had something to eat. I would have to search for food along the river.

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