Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Lost in the Woods part II or "Some Who Wander Actually ARE Lost"

continuing from Lost in the Woods part I...

So, at this point I was delirious.  It was almost dark, we could barely see, and all we had was a small wind up flashlight.  For some reason, winding that flashlight kept me going.  Eventually we got back to the camp of college guys.  I actually scared them because they could see this crazy woman in the dark with wild hair streaming in the wind, coming at them rapidly.  "You were just moving SO fast!" they said, slightly alarmed.  While they were chatting with my husband, kindly offering campsite shelter and food, I was already climbing the next mountain.  All I could think of was my kids and worried family, I was not about to set up camp.  

My poor husband was frightened, more so by me than the situation.  I was usually way ahead of him, fueled by terror and determination, and at one point he noticed me walking right past a bear while cursing the entire wilderness area and screaming at the sharp rocks in the rugged "path."  Apparently this large dark bear just froze in my presence and after I was several yards away, retreated into the nearby forest.   I still feel bad about cursing the wilderness area.  

It's funny how the mind works when you are in a histrionic state.  Rationally, I should have been afraid of stepping on snakes, running into bears, breaking my ankle on those awful trails... but no.  I was not afraid of those things!  My greatest fear was being on that trail forever.  It would never end, we would be there from now on and nobody would ever see us again except for that man telling us we were off the map!  I wanted the trail to end.  I was in a mumbling stage at this point, winding the flashlight and moving forward.   

It was 1 AM when we finally reached an area with a cell phone signal and started making our way down a steep ski slope.  My in-laws had already contacted the local police but at that point we had them call off the search.  We finally knew where we were.  Ski slopes seem more slippery in the summer when they are covered in mud and gravel, especially in the dark.  I had bruises in places I dare not mention and my ankles were throbbing from repeatedly stumbling in the dark. Regardless, we were on a definite path home.  My father-in-law met us at the bottom of the slope and we were back at the cabin around 2 AM.

The next morning I was at a nearby coffee shop in Davis, WV.  It was a rugged scene, the baristas were dressed as if they engaged in rock climbing during their lunch breaks and the air was filled with the smell of coffee and mud, along with adventurous conversations.  There were more mountain bikes outside than cars and I felt like an outsider in their ruggedly cool world.  "You from here?" I was asked.  Eventually I came out with it.  "We were lost in the wilderness for over 12 hours yesterday!"  All of a sudden, I was one of them!  Rugged people were surrounding me, asking questions, sharing similar stories, guys with beards nodded with respect and admiration for my survival skills.  I left out the screaming/mumbling part of the adventure.  Then I realized my husband and kids were waiting in the car so I gathered my coffees and said my goodbyes.  

While we were lost, I cursed Dolly Sods and decreed to the wilderness that I would never... ever... return.  EVER!   A few days later, I was going through all the amazing photos I captured in this beautiful wilderness.   I will return there someday, obviously better equipped and mentally prepared for the true meaning of the word "adventure."