The Pack

 I recently wrote a passage for a college writing course that I felt fitting to share with you all. The assignment was characterization through objects, focusing on the objects that different people carry in a fictitious story and how those objects shape who they are. My itch for the upcoming hunting season was the drive of this story, along with personal struggle and growth. I hope you enjoy.

The Pack

By Scott Mathson

This was the moment this group of men had been waiting for all year long. The morning started very early, 4:30 a.m., and the day was sure to be long. The sun was warmer than weeks prior and it felt more like mid-July summer rather than mid-October fall. Hunting season had arrived and two men trotted deeper into the Lolo National Forest, high above Lolo Creek.
John wasn’t used to carrying this much weight on his back. The pack must have weighed damn near seventy pounds. Sitting in his cubicle twelve months of the year had reversed his physical preparation for this; this hike was hell for him. Sure, he probably didn’t need certain things like the surplus (three plus gallons) of water he was packing or the clunky, old backup tent. He stared jealously at Allen’s new REI, two-man tent packed on his back with ease. John did carry sentimental items such as the empty 30-06 bullet casing that he shot his first deer with some thirty years prior; it was his good luck item, in a sense. Allen had been training for the hunting season nearly all year long. He had used this particular mountain as his treadmill for the past ten months (every other weekend, when his kids weren’t visiting him). He had been doing well with work lately and had treated himself to some new hunting/backpacking gear. His olive green, Osprey backpack was lightly loaded with the essential items for this hunt. His Nalgene, sunscreen, binoculars, bug repellant, bear spray, water purifier, and granola bars were all very accessible. The bear spray hung from a lime green carabiner on the left strap of this backpack. This hunt was going to be successful, he could feel it deep in his bones. The air was crisp, not muggy and the sun was sitting right where they needed it to be on time for camp setup.

hiking, backpack, hunting, hunting backpack

John caught Allen’s attention by whistling a high pitch, yet quiet tone.
“Hey man, s—hit. . .can. . .rest!?”
Allen chuckled and shook his head, saving his breath. They both opened up their differing backpacks, John reaching for his leftover Subway sandwich nestled deep inside the pack. He took an enormous bite and gestured to Allen, offering him some. Allen shook his head, reaching into his new backpack. He pulled out the accessible granola bars, unwrapped one and made sure to place the wrapper back in the garbage compartment the backpack offered.

John reached into his wool rich  pants’ left pocket (much too hot of a day for those bastards) and pulled out an orange lighter he had carried with him for the past three years. Trying to quit smoking was a royal bitch, but John knew he was stronger than the nicotine. He lit the orange, chipped lighter four times in his nervous, ritualistic way. He thought of why this was important to him and his family and stuck the lighter back in the grey, wool pants.

The men knew the time wasn’t going to take a break for them and that they must make camp before the fall sun set, around five. Their pace has nearly doubled since their twenty minute afternoon siesta. John was shaking his head, in the rear of the parade. Allen reached into his pocket, pulled out a wrinkled photo of Samantha and smiled. His ex-wife, Samantha was and will always be the love of his life. He awed at her blonde, curling hair in the photo, the blue of her eyes seeming heavenly. His thoughts traveled back five years, as his feet traveled mile after mile deeper into the forest.

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Maker! Web Designer • Front-end Developer • Digital Marketer • Musician • Montanan • Founder @mathsondesignco @whiskeywoodcreations | Former Marketing/Media @DIY_PETE Writing, woodworking, songwriting, blogging, and more. @scottmathson

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Posted in Hunting, Outdoors & Exploring, Writing

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