As Morton walked along the mud path, he noticed the heavy dew all around him. At night, as he slept in his tent, a colder climate had been battling with the creatures all around him. The morning had a white tone that came from the frost on some of the leaves and dead insects that hadn’t been properly prepared for the cold. He looked at it all in wonder, as it was the first time in his trip in which he saw such a thing. Granted, he had been out in the wilderness for only a week, but he already felt like a proper explorer.
His next assignment was to look for a lake or a pond in order to wash his body. He hadn’t been able to properly clean himself since he had entered the moors, and it was time for it, judging by a small cloud formed by many tiny mosquitoes. It was a little bit funny to be followed by those creatures all over the place, no matter if he stumbled to the ground or if he climbed down or up a wall. They were as resistant as him and, after a couple of days; they became little more than his own shadow.
At the end of the mud path, a large amount of tall bushes covered what lay beyond. The sun was casting its first few rays onto the world and it seemed it was going to be a great day for his expedition. He had been granted a permit to explore for two weeks but he intended to traverse the park in order to reach the north border post before the two-week mark and there he would ask for another permit of the same amount of time. He needed at least one month, or that’s what he thought anyways.
Morton had asked for the month period at first but he had only received a laugh and a severe look from the guard that was supposed to be giving the permits. They were not available online, so people had to go to the post and just make an exposé about why they wanted to enter the park and how would they spend their time in there. They also asked for people to have a proper plan for sleeping and eating. Even if they granted the permit, one had to sign several papers before going in.
He didn’t mind at all. He signed everything they wanted because he needed that place; he needed to get lost in there for at least one month. He couldn’t deal with the real world, with the urban settings anymore. He had found the natural park while surfing the Internet and he had decided that was the perfect place to go. Besides, he could say he needed to go in there to take pictures and have some video footage of the place for a documentary. He had a degree in cinema but he had never used it. Not until it became relevant to get the damn permit.
Once everything had been set, he prepared himself by watching several videos on the matter of camping and exploring. He had signed on for rock climbing lessons and he got only the basics before it was time to leave. The only people that knew what he was doing were his parents but they didn’t say anything besides wishing him good luck. After all, that trip had not cost them a dime and all the camping equipment had been bought in a second hand specialized store. Morton had done everything correctly.
He left very early one day before they woke up, leaving only a handwritten letter on his bed. In it, he told his parents that he loved them but that he needed time to get his mind and his life in order. He needed to get away from every single thing that, according to him, was poisoning his life and his mind. He wanted to be well, he wanted to try and have a proper life. Not that he hadn’t tried before but all his attempts had proven unsuccessful and the trip to the moors was just an idea that seemed perfect.
In the cabin on the south entrance, he received every single piece of advice every other person entering the moors had received before him: how to properly put off fires for cooking, how to dispose of bones and other proteins, where not to go, what not to do, what animals to be aware of, which plants could cause his eyes to pop and several other nice anecdotes and advices like those. Once he actually crossed the gate, every other person around him was getting ready for lunch.
He remembered all that as he pulled out a survival knife from his backpack and started slashing at the bushes on the mud path. He smiled at the memory of his first day there, as if he had become an experienced hiker in just a few days. The smile went away when he realized cutting branches with such a small knife would take several hours. He decided to put the knife away and try to do it by hand. In a matter of minutes, he got both his hands covered in shallow and deep cuts.
In a way, it was nice to feel the pain. It was strange and gross and fantastic to see blood on his hands. He rarely ever cut himself shaving at home or something like that. Looking at what was inside his veins was very bizarre but it somehow made him felt like the trips was worth every single one of those cuts, every single pain he had felt since he had gotten in the wilderness. His feet got swollen often and his skin was getting rashes all over the place but it was part of something much more important that he definitely wanted to go through.
He decided to rest for a while. Morton wanted to walk more before the sun was on its highest point but he decided eating before the long road ahead would be much better for his energy. He took out a couple of granola bars from his backpack and started eating them slowly, as if he wanted to flavor them and enjoy their texture. To be honest, he was fed up with the taste and aspect of the bars but it was the only thing that he had on his bag, as he hadn’t prepared himself as well as he had expected.
Before coming in, the people from the park had told him that, in case of severe malnutrition or lack of proper food, he would be allowed to kill certain animals in order to cook and eat them. He would have to dispose of them correctly and hunt them with proper care. So he did. Morton had never hunted or done anything that even remotely similar. But on the second day of his trip, just to try his skills out, he was able to kill a rabbit with a bow and arrow he had been given by the owner of the second hand store.
It had been more a toy than a proper weapon but Morton had received the gift with great enthusiasm. He had always wanted to use one of those but had never been given the opportunity. Now, a week after the beginning of his journey, he had killed several animals and had disposed of every non-usable part in the proper way. He had cooked the meat with some bags of tomato sauce he had brought and the flavor was just perfect. Had become a great hunter and a pretty good cook.
There, in the middle of nowhere, he had felt for the first time how it was to be someone that was worth something. It was the first time that he realized that he might know something that most people don’t and that, if hunting and cooking a rabbit was seen as a handy skill in daily life, he would be regarded as more than he had ever been regarded as. He had been a failure for half of his life and now he finally thought he could he be changing that dynamic. He felt he could be becoming someone.
After eater the granola bars and putting the wraps on his litter bag, he continued to tear down the branches until, finally, the bushes gave in and he was able to pass to the other side. What he saw made him yell in happiness, even if he wasn’t supposed to do that.
A green valley covered by some mist could be seen below, between tall mountains and ridges. Morton was standing on a cliff looking at the majestic of nature. There, he felt special for the very first time in his life and he couldn’t do much else than crying in silence.