You can never tell just what will happen when you go on the long trail,
that is one of its charms, nor do you know what you will be called upon
to do. The girl best versed in the ways of the water as well as of the
woods is surest of safety, and can be most helpful to her party.
Possibly you may never be called upon to build a raft, and again an
emergency may arise when a raft will not only be convenient but
necessary. When such an emergency does come it is not likely
that you will have anything besides the roughest of building material
and no tools besides your small axe or hatchet. But with your axe you
can chop off limbs of sufficient size for the raft from fallen trees,
and with ropes made of the inner bark of trees you can bind your small
logs together in such a way as to hold them firmly. Do not use green
wood, it will not float like the dry. Logs about twelve inches in
diameter are the best, but half that size will make a good raft. Six
feet by twelve is a fair size. The smaller the logs the larger the raft
must be in order to carry any weight, for it must cover a wider surface
of water than is necessary for one made of large logs. One good-sized
log will carry your weight easily, but a small one will sink beneath
If you have two long, strong ropes you can use them for binding the logs
together; if not you must make the ropes from fibre of some kind. Daniel
C. Beard in his book, "Boat-Building and Boating," tells of making a
very strong rope of the inner bark of a chestnut-tree which had been
killed by fire. The fibre torn off in long strips must be twisted by two
persons, or one end may be tied to a branch while you twist the other.
When two are twisting one person takes one end, the other takes the
other end, and, standing as far apart as possible, each twists the fibre
between her fingers, turning it in opposite directions until when held
slack it will double on itself and make a double twist. The ends are
then brought together and the rope kept from snarling until it is bent
at the middle and allowed to double twist evenly all the way to the end.
The fibre rope will be a little less than _half_ the length of the
original strands, and it should be about the size of heavy clothes-line
rope. The short lengths of rope must be tied together to make two long
ropes. Use the square knot in tying to make sure that it will not slip.
When the knot is wet it will be quite secure.