Middle school sucks for everyone, but most of us just suffer through the spitballs, sparkly lip gloss, and painful awkwardness in the hope that we'll see better days. But when 13-year-old Nicholas Clark faced the gnarly prospect of being forced to go to public middle school after a life of home schooling, he had a better idea: The Washington teen chose wilderness.
Clark lit out into the mountains and rivers of the Cascades, hoping to survive in the wild and eventually make it to Tom Brown Jr.'s Tracker School in New Jersey. The school doesn't accept anyone under 18, but Clark figured that if he succeeded in his quest, Brown would have no choice but to accept this junior Grizzly Adams.
Clark didn't make it to Dirty Jersey, but he lasted 11 days, surviving on peanut butter, trail mix, and river water purified with iodine tablets. When night fell, Survivorman Jr. collected spruce and hemlock boughs to sleep on, and he built fires to stay warm and dry his clothes.
He made his way east by following rivers, and even made his way above treeline. A boy after our own hearts, he traveled fast and light, packing just a sleeping bag, tarp, matches, two packs of cookies, trail mix, tortillas, honey, and four bottles of water. He "didn't want the weight" of toothpaste or soap.
Eventually, the rigors of wilderness survival wore on Clark despite his successes, and he missed his family, so he used his compass and landmarks to orient himself and get back to his hometown. Eventually he found a logging road that led to a gas station and a phone.
Clark has since decided that junior high "doesn't have to be a bad thing" and he hopes to continue practicing his survival skills and indulging his love of nature without playing hooky.
If middle school ever starts to really bum you out, Nick, just remember one thing: You're a complete badass.