Bow Drill to Blazes
The Bow Drill Battle
SNAP… one of the sticks on my bow drill broke AGAIN… I had been trying to make a fire for at least 3 hours, and the tender blisters on my hands were screaming for me to stop. Surrounded by shredded string and failure, I promised myself that this would be the last time I would try before calling it a night. I twisted my drill back into the bow I had crafted, using sticks from around the yard and bright pink nylon string, and lined up the nooks in the wood, previously sanded away by disappointing tries. I was determined. Not determined to make fire, but to make progress. I started moving the bow back and forth slowly with my right hand, as I tried to figure out a promising placement for the piece of wood in my left. I kept focused… really focused on placement, pressure, and speed. As the pieces of wood settled into each other, the process became easier and more fluid. I continued to apply more pressure and increase the speed as if I was sawing away at my amateur knowledge. The friction points became hot and black, and a tiny trail of smoke began to dance upwards, carrying with it the smell of summer nights and memories. My eyes grew larger and my smile radiated at the neighbors, but just when I thought I had it…CRACK. The stick broke again.
Reflection to Realization
I laid back in the grass like it was an emerald carpet and looked up at the trees waving to me in the breeze of the early evening. The skin on my hands was ripped, and I felt them pulsating at me with anger, but I wasn’t angry…I had made it further than I ever had before, and was excited to try again tomorrow. As I lay in the dew-covered grass, my mind raced with thoughts. Graduation. Work. Projects. Trail Preparation…all competing for first place like they were part of a NASCAR race circling around my brain. I closed my eyes in an attempt to wave the red flag, and reflected on that present moment.
How did I get here? Why am I practicing survival skills to hike one of the longest hikes in the United States? To this point, I have gotten very black and white answers from everyone I had talked to about the trail, which usually went something like “You’re crazy. You could die!” or “Heck yeah, I support it!.”
I grew up racing cars…so how did I get into hiking? When did I become so in love with nature? I hiked and camped a few times with my family, but nothing to the extent of my current ambitions. And to be honest, I’m not really sure how I got here. All I can think of are the great people I have run into along the way, and how they have influenced me. Although I may have found these people by chance, it was definitely for a reason, and I’ll be forever thankful for them.
So now I get to the golden question… why do I want to hike the Appalachian Trail?
Hiking gives me freedom, keeps me humble, and fills my soul. Seeing the wind through the trees and feeling the kiss of Mother Nature’s sunlight literally gives me a feeling of completeness. Combining the spiritual nature of the wilderness with the culture and community that comes with the Appalachian Trail will surely provide priceless memories, lifelong friendships, and increased knowledge and wisdom. With this, I am trying to find myself. I am graduating in December and have no idea what I want to do. All I know is that I want to do something that doesn’t feel like work, something that I love doing and feel like I am making a difference. This trip will allow me to experience the soul-filling qualities of nature and allow me time to search and discover myself as a person.
For this trip, I would like to tap into my writing skills, and document my experience for many people to see and be a part of. I would love to answer people’s questions, comments, and concerns and interact with others throughout my adventure.
I have 3 main goals during my thru hike on the Appalachian Trail:
1) Find the top 10 wonders of the trail
2) Find the best pizza in the East
3) Capture candid moments to show the culture and community on the trail.
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