Hiking with Hunger

It had been two days since we had last seen a shop. Acutely aware of the need to compromise between having enough to eat and keeping our pack weight down, we had bought sparingly for the five days ahead; a decision that we now regretted.

“We got any bread?” Jake said, two hours after leaving camp.

“We’ve had our rations for the morning already,” I lamented, feeling my stomach moan at the thought of waiting any long.

“How did we get it so wrong? We’ve been on the path for five months. We should have known better.”

With straining eyes I glared up at the trail ahead. Winding through a landscape of broken rubble and sparse, woody shrub, the track climbed steeply to the Col de Fenestre, a craggy dip in the skyline connecting France with Italy. “Maybe we could have a little jam?” I offered desperately. “I’m running out of energy.”

Escaping the wind, we huddled between two large rocks and pulled the pot of jam from my pack. It was a distressing moment. Feeding tiny spoonfuls of sugar into my mouth, I was sure that I was swallowing more dust from the dry air than I was food. I began to worry about the coming days, and as Jake screwed the lid back onto the pot, I could see that he too was concerned.

“Right,” Jake said suddenly, after several minutes of silence, “we’ve got two options.”  Scrambling abruptly to his feet, I could see that Jake had made a decision. “Either we turn back and retrace our steps, something I certainly don’t want to do, or we quit feeling sorry for ourselves and push on. I vote we keep moving. There are people in this world far worse off than us.”

“You’re right.” Adopting Jake’s enthusiasm, I pushed off the rock and stood up into the wind. Without another thought, we slung on our packs, rediscovered the trail, and made decisively for the Italian border.

About Danny Graham

I am a 27-year-old Englishman, currently living on the western coast of Canada. From my bedroom window - which looks south across the Strait of Juan de Fuca and towards the Olympic National Park - I can see river otters playing in tangles of kelp and seaweed. These are the things that are important to me and I like to write them down. I would like to learn more about memoir writing.
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6 Responses to Hiking with Hunger

  1. Jude says:

    This sounds like an extract of a wonderful adventure. You have been able to pinpoint the scene and the emotions very well. I certainly wanted to read more and find out how you fared. I bet there were plenty of other incidents along the way.

    • Danny Graham says:

      It truly was an incredible adventure Jude, I won’t have any better (an odd thing to say considering my age, I know). And yes, there were many incidents, a positive now because it means I have more to write about, but at the time, not so fun :)

  2. Des says:

    Daniel, I think you nailed this exercise. I was engrossed in what you wrote from start to finish.

    I can’t think why for the moment, but I smiled when you said:“Maybe we could have a little jam?” I offered desperately. “I’m running out of energy.” I loved it. Perhaps it was because it had a certain authenticity to it.

    I think you’re seeing the power of dialogue too. You used it well and it shaped character for me. For example, in my mind’s eye I now see Jake as a young man of strong determination who can keep his mind on the goal should the need arise. I got that from what he said.

    • Danny Graham says:

      I feel like dialogue is something we are both appreciating more and more, Des. It’s amazing how a few words, which are actually no-descriptive, can create/develop a character so effectively.

  3. ethroop710 says:

    Danny, I liked the realistic feel that the piece offered. I felt like your use of dialogue was spot on, not lacking in substance or overwhelming, either. I realize it’s a single part of a bigger whole, but I think it’s worth mentioning that this was intriguing enough to desire more content than this small segment alone.

    You could tweak your second-to-last paragraph. “Suddenly” could be eliminated, as “abruptly” covers the base you were going for, I think. “I could see that Jake made a decision” seemed unnecessary as it currently is, but I feel like you could modify that portion of the sentence to make it offer more emotional and relatable appeal to the reader, using a show rather than tell approach, as you’d done in the moments prior with your use of “after several minutes of silence” and “abruptly”. Then again, as the flipped side of a mixed feeling regarding that bit, I like the fact that you, a character, made an outright observation of the other character; if you stick with that, perhaps just modifying the way you state that observation will give it more relatable effect for the reader.

    Thanks for sharing, Danny! I look forward to further pieces you may post.

    • Danny Graham says:

      Hello ethroop710,

      Thank you very much for your feedback. Your points are very worthy and I will look to work on them for my future work.

      I have now completed the course, and though I may pop on from time to time to read an entry or two, would like to wish you enjoyment with you writing.

      Danny

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