In the meantime it was spring and life was abundant. Flowers bloomed in the meadows and insects flew and crawled all over. Tobal learned to make containers and drinking cups out of the green bark of birch trees and boiled water in them. He used them to make teas and ointments that kept the deerflies and ticks away.
His skin became tanned and his muscles hard from the constant exposure and work. He could stay outside in any weather and walk the entire day without being exhausted. By the end of the second week Tobal was living completely on his own food. He was not only finding food but was providing food for Rafe to eat. He still had trouble cooking though. Nothing he cooked tasted as good as the mouth watering victuals that Rafe provided. Still Rafe never complained. Tobal learned the importance of keeping his knife razor sharp, both of them. He kept the one from his initiation on his belt and his old knife strapped to his right leg above his ankle just as Rafe did.
By the end of the second week he was getting bored with the monotony of the daily grind and the constant need to keep busy. He was looking forward to something new. They moved out from Rafe's small valley and travelled in different directions meeting up at designated spots on the map every other day. Tobal became proficient with the map and with triangulating where he was at any given time.
He spent some evenings alone and others with Rafe. The evenings he spent with Rafe were spent creating different kinds of shelters and sleeping in them. He was amazed at how many things could be used for shelter. But they all had the bed made of soft fragrant pine boughs and he followed the first rule of never sleeping on the ground if it could be avoided.
Leaning trees that had fallen provided shelter when combined with the gray poncho material. Two trees and his walking stick lashed between them became an impromptu tent. Lean-to shelters were easily made and he also made a small teepee using the gray blanket material.
The need for water was always present and he never strayed too far from a good supply of it. He learned where to look for fresh water springs and waterholes. He also learned to collect rain water with his poncho or blanket and fill his canteens and other containers. Rain water was fresh and didn't need to be boiled. Water from stagnant pools needed to be boiled before drinking.
He practiced continuously with the sling and his bow. He got his first deer at the end of the third week. He was really excited even though there was too much meat. They spent two days slicing and smoking it into jerky that could be stored away to eat later. It made his pack much heavier and he cached some carefully in a tree marking the spot on his map so he could return to it later.
Once in awhile they would see an air sled in the distance with a medic on it. They would wave and sometimes the medic would wave back. Medics were not allowed to interfere with the Apprentice degrees unless there was an emergency but they did keep an eye on things.
It was during the fourth and final week that Rafe asked Tobal to look at the map and decide where he was going to solo.