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Survival School: Day 22
Aug 5, 2007, 11:19p - Life

Self-portrait on day 22, after 4.5 days of being entirely alone

Goodbye, lonely home

6th day of SOLO -> 1st day of Student Ex

Last day of solo! Woke up, mostly overcast. Packed up my stuff, got my last meal going. Bandanas on top & bottom to try to keep it warm, but it didn't do much.

Last breakfast alone, heating up in the sun


Got ready to leave! I was so ready, the group was supposed to come @ solar noon. Ate cold stew @ around 10 am, then napped for a little while when I heard the hoots. Refilled on water, put on my pack, & walked to the path. After not seeing people (aside from myself in my camera screen) for 5 days, they all looked really funny, like animals of a strange species I've never seen before. My mind had forgotten what people looked like - really, really weird. We could have all been giraffes that spoke, for all I knew. And though I had been dreaming a lot about people, my dreams clearly contained the concept of people rather than any literal imagery. And somehow my own face wasn't enough to keep the image of humanity alive in my mind. My mind had somewhat purged itself in its isolation. I wonder what else my mind has purged itself of? I guess I'll find out when I return to civilization.

Everyone looked much dirtier, harrier, & more tanned than when we left. It was also sort of hard to use my own voice - it felt a bit foreign & also unrecognized. But I got used to talking really quickly. I actually only talked to myself a couple times during solo, a lot less than I expected to. Hannes built a large fish catch, & [I] also saw Abe, Nick, Ted on the path. Picked up everyone else as we got back up the river, to our meeting spot. We got our final rations for student ex, final stage of the course. Same as beginning rations: lentils, quinoa, potatoes, carrots, onions, garlic, salt, pepper, cinnamon, condensed milk, bullion, & oats. We also got individual spelt flour for ash cakes, & GORP. Steve told us about student ex: 5 nights, laid out the maps & showed us our course. No instructors, just the 12 of us for this final stage. We did our pow-wow - most people really liked solo, though many were also frustrated by the difficulty of making fire. Rob also did not get any fire going, even though he tried for 8 hours. He also seemed deeply emotionally frustrated by this, hurt pride. I didn't feel bad at all - somehow I felt that the skill would come when it would come, even if it waited until after the whole course was over. I talked about how I used chewing as my biggest form of distraction, & people chuckled. That's why the 5th day was the hardest - so little left to chew on. I told people it was really hard, & that I cried several times, and that I was ready for it to be over. After thinking about it more, I was really addicted to distraction, even if it was the miniscule act of chewing. Even that is too much of one. My next goal, I think, is to try to not move for 3 days continuously. That should really take the distraction level down a notch, & really let me get into the nether regions of my mind. I need to do this one day.

After circle, we left the instructors & had a really short hike for the day, down past the solo spots. Found a good field, though it had a ton of flies. Found a good camp spot under a Pinon w/ Hannes, then we went fishing! Fishing license for 7 days was $32, & only 3 of us got them. We went out to the river, set the trap [that Hannes had made on solo], & tried to scare fish into it, but to no avail. We kept hiking upstream to find a good spot, w/ slow current, little reflection, clear water, & fish. Finally, I saw a fish, green body & pink fins, just sitting still next to a rock. First fish I saw all day. Slowly came up to it, hands in water, slowly, under it, ... then it escaped! Hot damn. They're too fast, the moment you touch one they get the hell out of there. They taught us how to hand fish - basically what I described, just grabbing the fish out of the water, no tools. After the first fish encounter, Hannes caught a fish farther upstream, so I went to that area - long & flat & clear. I saw another trout, & it went & hid in the same overhang as Hannes'. There was no way out, & though it squirmed a lot, I got it, one hand tucked under the gills, the other close to the tail, a firm grip. It was absolutely amazing - first fish I've ever caught, & I did it w/ my bare hands! Way amazing ... Unbelievable. I gutted it & hung it on Hannes' stick w/ his fish.

We caught 2 fish w/ our bare hands!

Yay, I'm happy!

A close-up of the 2 trout, gutted. The black stuff along the spine is blood, I think.

Another angle of the trout

Hannes, holding our prize in one hand and the fish catch he made on solo in the other - we weren't able to catch any fish with the catch, just with our bare hands

Didn't catch any more, though we saw a bunch, but I was so stoked. We cooked it over the fire that night, & shared w/ the whole group. I ate an eye, which looked like a round ball of cheese, but didn't have any flavor.

Getting the fire going for dinner: Cliff, Jeff, Rob, Nic, & Leland

Stew was OK - I actually preferred my raw onion flavored cold meals on SOLO, which I wouldn't have expected @ all. Fire restriction had been lifted, so we were actually able to have a real fire pit [instead of the Billy cans]. Stayed up late, talked about religion as power manipulation, & spirituality. Went to bed, under same tree as Hannes, chatted a bit. Jeff is so structured, mechanical, & falsely confident & yet so unsure of himself - strange person, curious. Slept OK, not great, but only 6 more nights to go, including that night. Dreamt as usual.

(written on day 24)

Read comments (1) - Comment

To me - Feb 7, 2015, 2:23a
Seems you have no problem killing a fish, but when it comes to a bigger mammal it becomes murder,

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