I do not know how long I have been living in the woods. I am estimating that I have been here for about 4 months. It feels like I have been here for an eternity. I have grown to adapt to this infinite place filled with miles of trees and wildlife. This place is filled with vibrant colors of greens, yellows, blues, and browns. I used to think it was beautiful, but now I see it every day. I forget what it is like to appreciate nature’s beauty.
My name is AJ, but I haven’t heard it for a long time. I miss the sound of other voices speaking to me. The only living things I talk to are the animals, like the squirrels and deer that are all around me. I am originally from Seattle. I came to Newfoundland, Canada to visit Gros Mourne National Park.
I was hiking through the park when I saw this interesting trail. I, being the curious person that I am, veered left leaving the tourists and tour guide and followed the trail down to this beautiful lake. When I reached the lake, I was astonished by what I saw. The water was a deep shade of blue. It was so vast that I couldn’t see the end of the lake from where I was standing. It was also surrounded by steep rock walls almost 2,000 feet tall. It is said that the glaciers carved the land into a lake. The sign next to it said that it was called the Western Brook Pond. I admired the lake so long that I forgot about where I was in that moment.
I started to head back to the trail that the tour guide was leading us on. I walked for about a mile with the tree tops towering over the trail, not being able to see the sky above me. I started to get a worried, so I decided to take a shortcut. I ventured to the right of the trail. I was walking through the jungle of bushes and trees. I thought that I would be able to reach the endpoint of the tour, but the woods kept going on and on. I pulled out my phone to try to locate where I was, but it was dead. I had been playing video games on it the whole ride here. I came here with my brother. I wonder if he noticed I was missing. I was really starting to get scared at this point. I had no idea where I was, and neither did anyone else. I was all alone in this huge forest. I began to lose hope that I would get out.
It was starting to get dark and it was a little chilly out. I was wearing a windbreaker and had a little bit of food and water to last me a couple of days in my backpack. I started to build a shelter out of sticks and leaves that I could stay in for the night. I decided that I would keep looking for a way out in the morning.
The first night was rough. I had stayed out in the wilderness before, but not alone. I started a fire with sticks, which I had learned from Boy Scouts many years ago. I had never thought being in Boy Scouts was going to be useful in life, but I was now glad that I had done it. Every noise I heard I thought it was a bear or something that could eat me. There were so many mosquitoes and other bugs that kept bothering me as I was trying to go to sleep. The next morning I went out and explored the woods. I began to get used to my surroundings. I taught myself how to hunt for food and other resources.
Since the day I got lost out here in the woods, my goal has been to not die. I realized that I needed to teach myself how to survive, and I did. I have been staying out here for a couple months now. I have been exploring further and further from my shelter every day to try to find my way out. So far I have only discovered more woods. I have not found anything new. The last couple months have been extremely boring. Every day I just think about how I will survive the next day. I have taught myself more things than I ever thought were possible.
Tomorrow I am trying something new. I figured that going toward the same place everyday to try to find something is useless. I just want to get out of here. Instead of going towards what I thought was the National Park, I am going to go the opposite way. I decided that today after I came back from exploring. I have spent most of my time sitting by the fire to use my imagination to come up with creative stories that everyone knew me for back home. When I was tired and all out of ideas for writing, I put out the fire and climbed into my shelter and went to sleep.
When I woke up, it was dusk. The sunrise was an open view from where I had my shelter. I admired the painting in the sky every day. The morning air was cold. I got lost in the middle of summer. It is just starting to become colder. That means that if I don’t get out of here soon, I am going to have to adapt to the snow and cold weather, which I am not prepared for. I packed some meat that I had hunted and cooked on the fire last night in my bag. I also packed my canteen, which had water from the lake. I started walking west. Every 1,000 feet, or so, I dropped a familiar rock or stick, so I would know how to get back to my shelter. I had been walking for a long time. I could tell it was noon from where the sun was that peered right above me. I took a quick break to eat and drink water.
When I got back up to my feet, I noticed something on the horizon. I was standing on one of the big rock walls. I saw smoke from about 3 miles west of where I was standing. I don’t know if it was a forest fire or not. I was scared that it was, but I found myself running towards it anyway. I think part of myself had hope that someone was there, that someone had started the fire. I eventually got tired of running and began walking. I had always enjoyed running when I was home. I would run around in my huge yard. These days, I don’t have enough energy. It took me about 20 minutes to reach the smoke. Since I have been lost, I have taught myself how to cover a lot of ground in a short period of time. I was about 500 yards from the smoke. I thought I was hallucinating, or maybe my eyes were playing tricks with me. As I walked closer, I was getting really excited. I had that feeling you get in your stomach when something happens, and you just can’t believe it.
Before my eyes was a cabin! The smoke that I saw on top of the rock wall was chimney smoke. I quickly ran up to the door and tried to open it. It was locked. I began to lose hope, just like I had when I couldn’t find my way back to the tour. I frantically began walking around the cabin, checking all of the windows, trying to open them. I walked back to the front door. As I was just about to bust open the door with my body, I noticed the welcome mat. In movies, people leave a key under the mat. These owners might, too. Then, with the last bit of hope I had, I lifted up the rug, and there it was. The key was right there! I quickly picked it up and unlocked the door.
Inside was the usual cozy cabin setup. It had a small living room and kitchen. It also had a bathroom and two bedrooms off of the living room. A couch and some chairs surrounded the fireplace, which was still going. That means that someone had just left, and they are probably coming back. I had to act fast. My first instinct was to look for food in the kitchen. I opened up an old icebox and saw an abundance of food. I grabbed everything that would fit into my bag. Then, I looked for a phone. I looked all over for someone’s cell phone. Then I realized that there was a wall phone in the kitchen. The phone was one of those old ones with a curly cord connected to it. I picked up the phone and held it up to my ear. There was no signal.
I kept searching. I walked into the master bedroom. There on the nightstand was someone’s cell phone. As soon as I picked it up, I heard someone walk into the cabin. I snatched up the phone and ran to the closet to hide. I would not be able to call my brother, so I will text him.
“Carter, it’s AJ! I am lost in the woods around Gros Mourne National Park. I need to be rescued. HELP!”
As I waited for Carter’s response, I was terrified that they were going to hear me in this dark, dingy closet. It was a tight space, filled with heavy coats and a lot of shoes.
“AJ, I called the cops. They are going to try to find you. I thought you were gone forever! Do you know what area you are in?”
“I wandered off to the Western Brook Pond when I got lost. I don’t know where I went from there. I found this cabin and took the owner’s cell phone. I heard them enter the cabin, and now I am hiding in this closet.”
“You need to get out of the closet. Maybe they could help you!” Carter replied.
I decided to take his advice. I slowly crept out of the closet and walked into the living room. The owners were standing in the kitchen.
“Hello,” I said cautiously.
The owners dropped what they were doing and turned around frantically.
“Who are you?” They both asked.
The owners were a couple. The woman was short with bleach blonde hair. The man was around 6 feet tall and had a long face.
“I am AJ Gibson. I got lost out here in the woods about 4 months ago. I don’t know if anyone has been looking for me, but I discovered your cabin today. I had been walking for about 8 miles trying to find something to get me out of here. Please, can you help me?”
“Of course! Everyone has been looking for you. You have been all over the news lately,” The woman said.
“I took your phone that I found in your room and texted my brother. He called the cops and they sent a search party out. Where is this place?” I asked, handing the phone back to the man.
“We are about 20 miles outside of a tiny town called Cow Head. We live there. We could take you there and someone can come get you. Would you want that?” The man asked.
“Yes, sir, I would like that,” I said.
We all went outside and climbed into the vehicle. It was a big black truck. The man started the truck and pulled out. I asked the woman if she could text my brother and give him details about where they were taking me. I was too busy thinking of how to get out of here, I didn’t realize how tired I was. I fell asleep as soon as we pulled onto the road. When I felt the truck jolt to a stop, I woke up. I had dreamt that I was stranded in the woods in the middle of winter.
When I got out of the truck, a search party was there waiting for me. They all ran up to me. They immediately started talking to me all at once. They lead me to an ambulance, so they could check if I was ill.
They told me that they were going to take me to the airport and that my family had bought me a ticket to fly back home. I thanked the couple and got into a white car to head to the airport.
When I woke up, I barely remember getting on the plane. I was extremely tired. I got off the plane to greet my whole entire family. They all were so happy to see me. I was thrilled to see them, too. I have always valued my family so much. All the time I was gone, I think that my family is what kept me alive. Being lost in the woods has been the scariest thing that has happened to me. It has also taught me the most important thing in life, to never give up.