We don't hike like we used to. I remember constantly loading the kids into backpacks as we hiked for hours in the parks of Ohio. Now that we are surrounded by endless parks, beautiful landscape, and unforgettable scenery we seldom make it out for nature hikes. Sure, we are busier now with unpacking a new house and having a puppy, but really it's just finding the motivation to get everyone out and dressed properly for time outside.
Sunday I finally found the motivation. I got the girls excited about a nature hike with the dogs, and it was warm enough I didn't have to obsess over hats and mittens. The youngest even went hiking with fancy shoes and a dress, like I said, the battle was just getting out the door.
The leaves on the trees were colors that really can't be duplicated. It's hard to believe such a bright red is really found in nature, but it exists in the North East, really it does. The hike was invigorating. Everyone was so happy to be outside, the rocks sparkled and the girls were convinced all of the boulders must hold crystals since everything was sparkling. A fellow hiker we met at the start of the trail told us of a great lake for dogs to swim in, so the girls couldn't wait to find it to see if our new lab could swim.
After hiking for an hour, we didn't find the lake, and I wasn't finding the trail to be a circle as the map had promised. My mind started to panic. I had this vision of my cold wet girls huddled in a corner of the forest as my husband cleaned the warm basement at home without a care in the world. He doesn't worry like I do, so I pictured the end of daylight savings time bringing a 3:00 darkness where we would never find our way out of the forest. Certainly he wouldn't start looking for us until long after dinner, assuming we stopped to get a meal without him, while we were out and about. Again, he doesn't worry, so there is no way he is going to look for us. I worry, so my mind was starting to bring wild animals to our remote location.
To my hiking wonders' disappointment, including my own, we turned around after hiking for an hour and went back the exact way we came. Panic mode required that I review the photos I took to compare where we had been to give me the confidence that I did know where we were. I didn't let the girls know I was worried about getting home before famine and hypothermia took over (not really that worried about either, but I did want to be home before bedtime).
What I learned:
1. Study the map if you have never been to the place before and take it seriously.
2. Take a photo of the map so you can reference it when you want to turn around or keep heading forward, either way, it's good to have a copy of the map.
3. Bring a cellphone if it's really not too remote. This place was bigger than I thought, but certainly having the cellphone would have given me the false confidence I needed to keep going.
The kids had a great time since I didn't let on that I was needlessly paniked. No need to make them fear new trails!