Chapter Twenty is one of my favorites. As I re read the chapter, I can remember not only writing it but many of the thoughts and feelings I had about other events in my life at that time. With reference to the hero's journey, our boy Charlie gets into a real pack of trouble in this chapter. It is his first night away from home and things don't go well for him. He selects a camp on the shores of Reid Lake. There is a nice sandy beach just off the camp and shelter on three sides. He catches a nice trout for supper, builds a fire and settles into what he believes will be a nice night's sleep. Of course, things don't stay that way. A storm sweeps across the lake. Remember, it is early spring and Charlie is up "north" so the nights would be cold. Charlie, of course, had not properly secured his camp to withstand the sudden, violent storm.
Well, just about everything goes wrong. His tarp / shelter comes loose and blows out into the lake. His horse runs away and his food supply is ransacked by some animal or animals. He and Loki are drenched from the cold rain and wind and start to experience the effect from hypothermia (even though I never used that term :) For a brief moment, he begins to panic or at least have panic like feelings. He is able to push aside the panic and get organized. After the storm passes, he knows he needs to build a fire. I was reminded of Jack London's short story, "To Build a Fire," when I wrote these couple of paragraphs.
"Well after midnight, the storm passed. The wind stopped blowing. The lake finally calmed down. Charlie could now think about building a fire. It would be long, cold night without a fire. He reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out one of three fire starting kits. He knew it was there. It was his third kit. He had put it there for just such an occasion. He smiled to himself as he reached into his pocket and felt the oilskin bundle.
It didn't take all that long to build the fire, although in the aftermath of the sudden storm it seemed painfully slow. The dry birch bark and pine needles that he kept in the kit flared up when the spark from his flint stone hit the dry tinder. He broke off some dead pine branches and carefully put the smaller ones on the fire. He added bigger branches, taking care not to overwhelm the small but delightful looking blaze. Next, he repositioned some of the branches to make way for larger pieces of pine. He looked at the fire. He was proud of himself. He was proud of the fire. Loki seemed pleased at the fire starting skills of his master as well. With the smaller tarp secure and the fire now going strong, Charlie suddenly was hungry and thirsty."