When you go hiking, there are rules. Especially, if you're hiking solo. And it's winter. Rules such as: dress in layers, bring extra water, know the area or bring a map. Know your limits -- how far can you walk and how fast. Bring your cell phone. Let someone know where you are and when.
I managed to ignore most of them the other day, much to my chagrin.
It was a lovely winter day with just enough snow for a good snowshoe hike. I decided to hike around the lake where I kayak in the warm weather. I knew there were trails there, but had never walked them.
I had plans to meet a friend at 4:00 that day. I started out at 12:30, figuring I had plenty of time to get some good exercise in and be back in time to meet up with my friend. I set out walking with the idea that at a specific time, I would turn back to make sure I wouldn't be late. But, the weather was so perfect and I was enjoying the walk, that I decided I had time to got a bit farther than orginally planned. I decided to walk the full circumference of the lake. It was early, I thought I was at least half-way done (here's where the lack of a map comes into play), so I made the fateful decision to keep going.
That was a really, bad judgement call! I walked and walked, and suddenly lost the trail. I appeared to be in a residential neighborhood and there were no trail markers to be found. And, it was later than I expected (stopping often to take pictures didn't help the timing issue). I backtracked, and then decided to bushwack through the trees, following the shoreline of the lake.
Then I found the trail....and lost it again...and found it again. And I'm walking and walking. I'm getting tired. I kept thinking that the parking lot was just around the next bend. But it wasn't. Never. And now, I'm late. I call my friend and tell here I'll be late. Then I call her again and tell her I'll be very late.
And, I still have NO idea where the end of the trail is or how far I still need to hike. And now, I'm exhausted. The trail wanders up, down, around. I'm tripping over rocks and tree roots. I fall (but am not hurt, thankfully). I'm starting to whimper. I can hear cars on the road and keep thinking, I must be very close to the parking lot. But I'm not.
Finally, I abandon the trail and head up towards the road, thinking I'll be on the road that takes me to the entrance of the park. But no, not true. I'm on some other road, and I'm walking, and walking, and walking. I debate whether to call a cab, knock on the door of one of the houses on the street and beg for help, or call my frirend and ask her to come get me. I am soooo tired. I'm upset that I've ruined my plans with my friend, I'm sweaty and ready to cry.
And then, I see a mail truck. I stand by the side of the road with a pathetic look. He stops, asks if I need help. I tell him where I'm going and he lets me know that I'm very close. I ask if it's possible for him to give me a ride. The postman takes pity on me. I'm sure he's not supposed to have passengers, and he doesn't know that I'm NOT an axe murderer. But, he opens up the back of the truck, lets me get in and off we go. He offers me something to drink, a piece of fruit, and in general, is about as nice as any person can be. In about 5 minutes, he drops me off at the parking lot and I tell him, he's my hero. Because, if I had to walk, it probably would have taken me a good 20 minutes to get to my car, and I was totally done in.
I eventually meet up with my friend and she is so very understanding. Sigh. I'm still feeling a bit traumatized by the event. And my toes hurt from where I tripped over rocks and such. But, I learned my lesson. Next time, Greendragon goes a-hiking, she'll be a lot more careful!