Walk on the Wild Side

I am a big fan of Tom Brown Jr. Each one of his books is loaded with information on tracking, survival, and other outdoor skills reinforced with some unbelievable first-hand stories. Brown also runs a wilderness survival and tracking school (in New Jersey of all places). You must be 18 years old to enroll, but that didn't deter 13-year-old Nicholas Clark. According to a story in the Seattle Times, Nicholas figured that if he worked cross-country—from his home in Washington to New Jersey—the tracking school might make an exception to the age rule. In the 13 days that followed, he survived on peanut butter, trail mix, and purified water; slept on spruce and hemlock boughs; and built fires for warmth. When authorities finally found him, his hands were so black with dirt they initially thought he had frostbite. I have to hand it to Nicholas. His trip may have been somewhat misguided, but he lasted a lot longer on his own than most people I know—almost two weeks. Anyone else ever find themselves in a tight spot? What survival tip or trick bailed you out? —Ben