Chapter 9 - Hunger

Once again I woke up late to the sound of the river crashing next to me. I got up and stretched to find that the meat had dried on the black rocks. The sun was beating down overhead, a perfect day to travel further on the river. This travel was exhausting. I walked to the riverbed and pulled the spruce root I had dug up out from underneath the rocks I had used to pin it down. Using the sharp stick I had retrieved the night before, I poked holes carefully through each piece of dried meat and threaded the spruce root through each piece. I then bound the spruce root around my neck, making a garment of food I could carry easily. I was concerned the root would snag on a tree over the river, so I tied it as loose as I could.

Leaving my sharp stick and makeshift blade behind, I continued down the river on my raft. I tried to be as observant as possible, looking for any signs of food. I travelled through valleys and plains, around twists and bends in the river, falling out of my craft several times due to sweeping trees, rocks and rapids. I could tell the river was getting rougher and at some point I would have to continue on foot, which was daunting. I hadn't left my shoes behind, but they were wearing down and wouldn't last forever. By sunset I was absolutley exhausted.

Pulling my raft to the side of the shore, I sat down and began to cry. This was much more difficult than I ever could have imagined. I thought floating down a river would be like driving a car, but it was a much more extreme chore. It required extensive concentration and physical strength, and I could already feel myself getting stronger, but nonetheless this was a challenge. Seeing the sun setting, I realized I must quickly build a shelter in order to survive the windy night.

As per the usual, I gathered as many branches as I could and laid them around the tree. My shelter wasn't as warm this time as I had to quit building because of the dark. I was afraid of the dark, and I preferred to be in my shelter at night. I knew there were wild animals out there, and they were dangerous. I could hear them. I thought I might even see them. Because of the cold, I ate the rest of the food that I had nervously as I lay awake at night. Finally crying myself to sleep, I slept through to the afternoon of the next day, enjoying sleeping in the warm sun of the day.

When I awoke I was hungry, but I had nothing to eat. I looked around for anything to eat and found nothing. Sitting down to think, I decided I would have to continue moving. I could potentially survive for weeks without food, but travelling on the river would exhaust my body's reserves long before this. So I pushed off again, this time looking more meticulously for rabbit holes, stopping every time I even suspected one. Finally several hours later, I found a few rabbit holes up the hill from the riverbank. I set up snares to hopefully catch the rabbits, and set about making a shelter again. I decided I would stay here for a few days until I found food and managed to dry it for eating. Having spent more time, I had actually managed to build a shelter I felt would be warm. I insulated the spruce branches with grass and moss, building my shelter once again directly against a large tree where I could curl up.

I sat on the riverbank again, watching my snares up the hill. I saw no rabbits, which I figured made sense as I had likely scared them off. There was little lichon around and no algea in the silty river, so I couldn't find much to eat. I ate some of the grasses I had used to build my shelter. I fell asleep on the riverbank and woke up cold and shivering. I moved to the shelter where I was much warmer, but still felt uncomfortable for the better part of an hour. This was almost worse than the family I was living with.

Three days passed. I checked the snares as often as I thought would be acceptable so as not to scare off the rabbits. These dens must have been abandoned, as I couldn't find any rabbits and was beginning to feel like I was starving. My whole body ached and felt awful, I wished I had tried to stretch out the rabbit meat to make it last longer. Nothing I could find to eat was filling. I considered staying in place and waiting for rescue, but eventually on the morning of the third day I decided I had to leave. I pushed my raft off the shore again, trying to keep my composure as I plunged back into the mess of rocks, trees and rapids.

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