A Story by C-Trainer

A young man obsessed with the outdoors and the bond he has with his father. Once his father dies, he looks to go on "the trip" and struggles to find his way, emotionally and literally.


By Craig Trainer
            When Connor Erikson was a kid, there was nothing that could force him inside. He loved being outside so much, he considered Mother Nature to be his second mother. And neither one of his mothers could get him to go inside. Mother Nature would send violent thunderstorms his way, which pelted his tent with rain, wind, and sometimes hail. He laughed them away the same way he laughed at his real mom when she would beg him to come inside. Connor even outlasted a week-long swarm of mosquitoes that infested the marsh, next to where he set up base, at the end of his yard. The irritating buzzing and biting of the mosquitoes weren’t even enough to force him into the safety of his house. Instead he stayed outside until he figured out how to become invisible to the insects, and he did. Covering himself in mud made him invisible to the heat seeking insects.
            Mr. Erikson took notice of how much his son loved the outdoors, and decided to teach him how to survive in the wild. He would read him stories of outdoorsmen, and people who survived life-threatening situations, and would take him on week long hikes in the mountains behind their Colorado home. After showing progression in a close environment, Mr. Erikson thought it would be time Connor to start exploring elsewhere. So every year in June, Mr. Erikson took Connor to different locations around the country and camped out for a whole week. Connor learned how to read tracks and catch fish without a pole, and what type of plants were safe to eat. But most importantly, he learned how to react when he get lost. Connor hated getting lost because he felt embarrassed when he had to admit it.
            Even when Connor would get lost, his dad was always supportive of him, making sure that he stayed positive. “Mistakes are going to happen Connor,” he would say, “you have to keep your head on straight so you can fix them.”
            For thirteen years the father and son duo traveled around the country looking for their next big adventure. When they came home, Connor enjoyed telling the stories to his mom and sister, Tori. Connor became fascinated by the story of Christopher McCandless, who went off into the world by himself, and ended up dying alone in the Denali National Park reserve in Alaska. Mr. Erikson knew that this was one of Connor’s favorite stories. So for his son’s twenty-fifth birthday, Mr. Erikson surprised him by telling him that Denali would be their next trip. Connor was ecstatic when he heard the news, jumping around his house like his sister would if she had gotten concert tickets for the Jonas Brothers. But three months before the trip, Mr. Erikson unexpectedly died in his sleep. The day of the funeral, Connor put the trip’s itinerary in the coffin with his dad.
            Connor went on two small trips in the following two months to try to clear his head, but returned home early from them both of them. When he walked in the door, disappointment was all his family could see.
            “Sweetie, I know how much you miss your father, but you can’t give up on what you love doing,” she said to him.
            “I know, Ma. It’s just so different now,” he said as tears streaked down his face.
            “You know he wouldn’t want to see you acting like this,” she said strongly to get his full attention, “he’s probably standing behind you leaning against that wall with his arms crossed tapping his foot and staring at you.”
Connor looked up at his mom, then dropped his head between his knees and buried it with his hands. Little puddles began to build on the floor in the living room, getting bigger with every tear that fell off of his face.
Mrs. Erikson left the room for a minute, and then returned with a dusty old brown bag that was tattered and torn around the seams. She dropped the bag in front of his feet, and a little cloud of dust puffed up off the bag. 
“Connor,” she said to make him look up, “you know what you have to do.” 
Connor cracked a smile when he saw his old camping bag. He picked it up and went outside and set up his tent, in the same place he did as a kid, rolled out his sleeping bag, and tried to go to sleep. His mind was racing, and would not let him sleep, so he lay in the grass beside his tent and stared up into the clear dark sky. He took a few deep breaths and listened to the chatter of the insects and frogs in the marsh. The wind rustled together some of the taller grass, and tree branches gently rubbed against each other. In the distance, the call of the coyote was as clear as the sky. He felt at peace for the first time in a while.
While taking in his surroundings, he realized that he could do the same thing with the memories of his father, and feel the same type of peace he was feeling at that moment. And after he accepted it, his brain finally let him get some sleep. The sun emerged on the horizon, at the same time Connor exited his tent, and both he and the morning had a fresh feeling. Connor walked into the middle of his yard and said to himself, “I’m going to Alaska!” He leaned back so he was looking up into the sky and spread his arms out to his sides as far as they would go and screamed to his dad, “I’M GOING TO ALASKA!” Connor felt a cool warmness on his left cheek, the same place that his dad used to put his hand when the two had heart to heart talks. 
Connor went inside with his confidence restored. He got his clothes, supplies, and gear together, and then found a route that we wanted to travel once he got to Denali. He had his mom call the airport to make travel arrangements while he finished up getting his things together. After breakfast, his mom and Tori helped him put his bags into his truck, then Tori gave him a hug.  Connor could feel that she was nervous, and he told her that everything was going to be alright. Mrs. Erikson slipped away while Connor said goodbye to his sister. When she came back she had his dad’s compass, and gave it to him. He thanked her for the gift, kissed them both goodbye and told them he would get in touch with them once he got to Alaska. Then he got into his truck and drove to the airport.
Connor had finally arrived to his destination, and took the deepest breath of the freshest air his lungs had ever tasted. He found a payphone and made a call home to let his family know he had made it to Alaska safely. He promised to call in a few days from his cell phone that he was using for emergencies only. He then stopped and bought a lighter, then hitched a ride to the entrance of the reserve. Connor began his trip with a three hour hike into the reserve, until night began approaching. He set up camp for the night, sat in his tent, listening to the sounds of his new environment while reading Into the Wild
When morning came, Connor looked at his map and decided to make the twenty-five mile hike to the river that would lead passed Mt. McKinley.   He packed up his gear and went forward. The scenery was like nothing he had even seen before. Endless tall grass, some skinny trees were a pleasant greenish tan color, and the blueness of the sky has the sharpest shade of blue he had ever looked at. The mountain peaks still had a trace of snow on them, even though it was early June. It was a cool, dry temperature in the 70’s which made walking with thirty pounds of gear easy. 
After six hours of walking, Connor found a boulder that he could sit down and relax on before he continued on. He was a little over halfway to his goal. As he climbed the rock, he noticed that there was a lot of movement in the tall grass about fifty feet ahead of where he was. He crouched down on the boulder and kept an eye on the movement in the grass. Looking around to see if there was anything else around him, Connor noticed that he wasn’t far from a small, but rapidly moving stream. Out of the taller grass emerged a grizzly bear cub. Connor’s heart began to pound, because he knew the mother bear wasn’t far away, and he didn’t know whether he was up or downwind from it. That question was answered moments later when the vicious roar of the enormous bear came from a few yards behind him. Connor slowly looked back and saw the giant bear walking through a large section of bushes about thirty yards from him. It stood up on its hind legs, with its mouth wide open, showing its teeth. None of the training that he and his father did could have prepared him for this moment. The cub started to come closer to the boulder where Connor was latched onto, and the bear again released an intimidating roar that echoed through the reserve. Connor looked again at the stream, and decided to take his chance at out running the bear.
Connor shot off of the boulder like a bottle rocket, and the bears pursued him. He was screaming as he was running, “AHH! Oh s**t, oh s**t, oh s**t. Get away from me!” He yelled trying to discourage the bear, which was gaining on him. Connor could feel the warmth of the bear’s breath against his back, and he was still about 25 feet from the water. “Dad, help me!” he screamed as he was approaching the waters edge. Knowing that the bear was good in the water, Connor knew he was going to have to dive and swim, and as he jumped, the bear took a swat at him, and caught him in the left calf. Connor hit the water and screamed in pain, when he surfaced, he saw that the water around him was red. The bear and her cub stood at the waters edge. The mother again stood tall, tilting her head to the side groaning, while the cub was biting at her feet, playfully. The fast moving current quickly carried him away from the bear, but Connor couldn’t overcome the pain enough to swim back to the bank. The boulders were pin-balling Connor down the stream, which kept him from attempting to swim to the bank. The current seemed to shift and it carried him to a place where he could claw himself out of the frigid water. Connor finally had a chance to look at his leg. He could see that he was in serious trouble, and was losing a large amount of blood. There were three claw marks that went from below his knee to the back of his calf. The cuts didn’t make it to the bone, but they still did a lot of damage. He took his belt off and tightened it around his upper thigh, to slow the blood flow through the femoral artery. Connor had brought first aid equipment with him on the trip, but it was in his bag, which was still resting on the boulder back where he encountered the grizzly. Connor was nervous that the scent of his blood in the air would bring the parks other ferocious pack of predators, wolves, his way. He tore away strips of his shirt to bandage his wounds, and when he was done, Connor realized something that really upset him. He was lost. 
The stream carried him a good four miles off course in a winding pattern, and his map, and cell phone were back in the bag. His adrenaline rush started to dissipate, which sent him into a state of shock and he passed out. When he woke up, it was almost dark, and Connor crawled up a small hill looking for somewhere he could take shelter in for the night. To his disappointment, there was nothing but flat surface all around him; he was going to have to spend the night exposed to the wilderness. The air was rapidly getting colder, his body was shaking and the pain in his leg was becoming more than his body could take. Although he got control of the bleeding, he was worried about infection that would be a result from the bear claw. 
As he crawled back to the bank, he remembered that he had put the lighter in his pocket, which amazingly stayed in his pocket while he escaped the grizzly. The first several times he tried to spark it, the lighter wouldn’t fire, but after about two minutes of trying he got it to light. Using all his remaining energy, Connor scrounged together some drift wood from the bank, some grass, and attempted to light a fire to keep warm, and keep predators away. 
“God damnit, just light! Just f****n’ light,” Connor screamed in frustration. After trying for almost an hour to keep the fire going, he finally had it, and then he passed out exhausted form the ordeal.
            When he woke up in the morning, the fire was just about extinguished. All he could think about was his mom and sister back home, and how he didn’t want to die. Connor tried to stand up, but couldn’t get to his feet, and fell face first onto the ground. When he looked up he saw something odd caught in some grass growing out of the water. He crawled over to it, and was shocked. It was his father’s compass. Even though Connor couldn’t move, he felt a bit better about the situation because he felt that his dad was there with him.
            Connor spent the day in that spot. His leg was still unusable and was feeling the effect of the blood he lost, but mostly hunger had kept him put. He didn’t want to exert the energy in moving that he couldn’t restore by eating.   He was able to get a decent sized fire built before he spent his second night in the open. He was bombarded with a mixture of emotions through out the nigh. Some were optimistic thoughts, and others were of him dying and being carried off by a pack of wolves. He got close to the fire, and slept for the night. Morning came, and he decided he was going to try to move, and made a makeshift splint out of some drift wood and his shirt. As he crawled down the bank, he realized that it was wasting a lot of energy and wasn’t getting very far. He could feel his body getting weaker and decided to try one last thing in hopes to get out of the park. He crawled back into the water. The coldness sent shock up his injured leg, but soon made it numb and the pain subsided. Connor let the current take him by its will. He began to cry, and had given up hope that he was going to survive.
            Then he heard something unusual. It was a faint buzz that reminded him of those pesky mosquitoes back when he was a child. He pulled himself out of the water and laid along the stream bank and looked around for the sound. It was beginning to get louder, and more familiar to his ears. It was the sound of a small plane. Connor fumbled around in his pocket, trying to pull out the compass to use to reflect the sun. The plane was getting closer, and Connor waved his arm, screamed, and tried to signal the plane. The plane circled around and went back the way it came. The excitement of the moment gave him a natural shot of adrenaline which allowed him to stand up. He saw a place that would provide shelter, in case the plane didn’t see him. He decided to head for it, to be safe. It took him a half an hour to make it to the rock. He managed to use the last of his strength to pull himself up on the rock, and when he did, he saw a site that deflated his lungs. Standing in the water, only a few yards from where he was lying when the plane flew over head, was another bear. It had its head in the water looking for fish, and Connor knew that he was downwind from it, for now. All the wind had to do was shift and he would be in serious danger. The bear eventually went back the way it came, but just seeing the bear scared him badly.
            “I give up,” he whispered as he closed his eyes and laid his head down on the rock. Connor relaxed the grip that he had on the rock, and his body lay there, looking lifeless.
            Connor could feel the life draining out of him, and his senses had almost completely stopped working. When he could keep his eyes open, his vision was blurred, and he couldn’t hear very well. He heard a low pitched drumming, and it felt like he was being lifted up. He figured it was his dad lifting him up into the heavens because he could faintly hear a man’s voice. The drumming was getting louder, but he didn’t recognize it. He felt himself rising even more, and then his eyes shot open when he felt a sharp pain stab his arm. He looked around and panicked for a moment before losing consciousness again.
            He was not dead, and his body was not being lifted to the heavens. The plane’s pilot radioed in the location of where he saw Connor, and a rescue helicopter came and picked him up, and was air lifting him to a hospital. 
            Connor woke up four days later and was startled when he realized he was in a hospital. A quick panic was ended when he felt a hand on his. It was his sister. He took a deep breath, realizing that he was alive, but felt something was wrong. He looked down to the end of the bed and noticed that his left leg ended at the bottom of his knee.
            “The doctors said the belt around your thigh saved your life, so the infection didn’t get into your blood stream,” Tori said with streaking tears. “You promised everything would be alright, I almost lost you!”
            Connor had no words; he just opened his arms for his sister to give him a hug. His mom and the doctors came in to the room and were happy to see that Connor was awake and responsive. The doctors talked with Connor for a while, explaining why they had to remove the lower part of his leg, and how lucky he was to be alive. The doctors left the room so the family could be together. Tori eventually fell asleep on the hospital bed next to her brother. He looked over her head and saw the compass sitting on the table; he smiled and looked up to the ceiling. “Thanks pop.”

© 2009 C-Trainer

Author's Note

I couldn't come up with a title i thought was suitable which is why it is untitled, this is a second draft,

My Review

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Yeah, I totally have title block!! I've spent hours throwing paper in the trash with failed titles. I have only been writing stories for a little less than a year. Thank you for all of your positive comments.

Posted 8 Years Ago

Okay young man, how long did you say you had been writing?
From this story, I would say since birth. This is a wonderful retelling of the bond a young man has with his Father, and the lessons he imparted on his son. The storyline flows without distraction. I was hooked, and that is KEY to any good story. You have a wonderful, natural, easy storyteller inside of you. (By the way, Into the Wild is one of my top stories and movies.) I think this is just an awesome story. Got title block? Try what I try.. If you could describe this piece in a word, or a short phrase, what would it be? Think, it will come..
I am sending you a message on this as well.


Posted 8 Years Ago

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2 Reviews
Added on October 21, 2009



Plainfield, IN

Hello. I am a 24 year old from New Jersey, and I have just moved to Indiana. I would like to get to know some local writers too, so if you are from Indiana, I'd be happy to meet you. I'm new to the.. more..

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