Last Saturday was a beautiful day and it’d been way too long since Jacob and I had enjoyed the great outdoors so we set out for the river to enjoy some fun in the sun and possibly a small hike.
On the way out we passed this old school-house and thought it was really cute.
Then, Jacob had a surprise for me. With his new job (we told you about that right? … anyway) he does a lot of driving and apparently he’d seen this look out tower.
So we climbed up it! 🙂
It was mighty tall!
And the view was awesome.
Now, you can’t see it in the pictures, and it’d be easy for me to just continue with the story, you none the wiser, but I gotta tell you…I had a death grip on those railings every bit of the way! That tower was TALL and a little shifty, not to mention there were almost no rails blocking you from falling off the sides. NOT KID FRIENDLY! As we were almost all the way back down we thought about counting all the stairs, but neither of us felt like going all the way back up. It could have been laziness, on my part it was mostly terror.
So after the beautiful view from the tower we continued on toward the river.
We made it to the river, which was really pretty and would have been pleasantly peaceful if it weren’t for the huge family off to the left (out of the picture) and the pontoon that showed up right as we got in the water. So with that, we ate our packed lunches and decided to try to find this other camp site Jacob had heard about that’s supposed to be beautiful and free [right in our price range :)] So on we went.
We found the camp site and it was indeed beautiful and free. We drove around the area, planning future camping weekends, and on the way out we saw a sign for a camping trail and excitedly stopped to investigate said trail. As you can see in the picture, we weren’t planning on, or prepared for, a serious hike. We both had swimsuits on, and not much more in the area of protection. So we set off to check it out.
We found the trail head and discovered that either way we went, it was gonna be a long hike. Without giving it a whole lot of thought (definitely not enough thought) we headed out for the shorter of the two trails, the South Loop.
As we began the hike we were really enjoying ourselves. The trail was pretty and there were lots of pretty flowers and vegetation along the way.
So as we’re enjoying ourselves on the hike we get to a part of the trail that’s really overgrown and thorny (not fun) and then shortly after we cleared that, we got to a fork in the road that wasn’t marked at all. Frustrated, we went a little ways down each path and decided to go to the left. (We both realize now that this was the point at which we should have turned back, but of course we didn’t.)
So on we went, still not too worried about the trail. A few hours later we got to a point in the trail with two signs, one for the North Loop (the 10 mile loop we opted out of) and one sign for Roby Lake. Obviously, we were once again frustrated and neither sign was any help. We had already been going for hours so the idea of going back seemed horrible and we went to the left toward Roby Lake, hoping that would be the one.
After a 1/2 mile or so down that path, and two forks, we decide that this isn’t the right one and we turn back to the same intersection with all the useless signs. It’s at this point that I start to vocalize what’s been running through my head for the last hour or so. We only have so much sunlight left. It was 3:3o when we started this hike and while the sun is still shining quite brightly, if we don’t find a way out in the next couple of hours…well, I don’t know what. As you can see…i was freaking out a little bit. Jacob and I figured that if we had already gone so long down the trail we were on, if we went on the North Loop maybe the end of the trail would be just about a mile down that way…we hoped. Either way, there was nothing else we could do but keep walking, so we did…for hours.
until we found ANOTHER fork in the road with a small sign:
The writing in Sharpie says “Big Piney Trail Camp”. Big Piney Trail was the name of the trail we started on so we figured this was a good way to go.
1/2 an hour later I started re-thinking the wisdom in following signs written in Sharpie in the middle of the forest. At this point I’m scared. I don’t want to spend the night in the forest. Oh AND, both our cell phones are still in the truck, we didn’t bother to bring those along. And the 1/2 full bottle of water we had started with was now almost empty. I knew we wouldn’t die if we didn’t get out soon, but that still didn’t bring me a lot of comfort with the prospect of spending the night in the wilderness with absolutely no provisions looming overhead.
This whole time we had been hoping to pass over a gravel road at some point because we had passed over one at the beginning of the trail and we figured we’d have to go back over to get back to the trail head.
Eventually we found the road and crossed it, following the trail on the other side. However, about a 1/4 mile in we decided that since the sun was already starting to go down, our best bet would be to go back to the gravel road and walk along that till we find the camp and possibly a car with helpful people.
So we turned around, found the road again, picked a direction to start walking and headed off. One car passed us, just waving but not stopping to help and I felt exhausted. We both had mud all up and down our legs, our faces were weathered and every movement came with a lot of effort. Finally, a car drove up and stopped so we asked which way the Paddy Creek Campground was – the opposite way we were heading of course. So we said thank you and turned around to walk. Graciously, the gentleman told us that they were headed there and they could give us a ride if we’d like.
I’m not sure I’ve ever felt that relieved. I heaved a great sigh and said thank you with all the gratitude I could muster, Jacob tossed his huge walking stick into the woods and we piled in.
By the time we got to the campground we learned that not only were we 2-3 miles from the campground, but we had ended up making a big circle without knowing, and approached the campground from the opposite direction we had left it.
As we reached the truck all of my exhaustion set in and I began to realize just how frightened I had been the whole time. Of course, my natural reaction to all of that was just to start laughing, incessantly. It wasn’t like a raucous laughter, just a small low chuckle that I couldn’t stop.
After deciding that none of the pictures were going to come out ok, we gave up on them and headed home, thankful for the fact that we could. We looked at the clock when we got in the truck – it was just after 8:30. As we drove home, the sun went down and by the time we got home, it was dark. My own bed has never felt so good!
What you should glean from this tale:
– Don’t be stupid
– When you have hesitations about an activity, speak up before it’s too late
– Don’t venture into the woods with your swimsuit, half a bottle of water for two people, and a camera. (dumb!)
– TAKE YOUR PHONE!
– Make sure there’s a trail map – if there isn’t, DON’T go!
– Don’t be stupid! (It needed to be stated twice – trust me!)
Glad to be home!