Lost in the Woods

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I want to tell you how my family got lost in the woods on a marked trail and nearly died. That may be a little dramatic, but it is the truth. I blame my wife. Not for being dramatic…that’s my department, but for getting us lost. As part of a little family outing a few weeks ago, we decided to go on a hike and visit the ghost town of Leesburg.

Our Own Sacajawea

Jenn said, “I know where there is a trail.” The kids and I waited for the punchline knowing it would be a doozy. “I’m serious,” she continued, “a friend and I went snowshoeing there once…it leads to a pretty meadow.” We laughed so hard that milk came out our collective noses. It was figurative milk because we weren’t actually drinking milk, but that is how hard we laughed. It’s not that we didn’t believe her…no, we didn’t believe her. Jenn thinks that hiking boots exist to shorten the distance between the bottoms of capri pants and your ankles. Most people don’t realize the importance of maintaining the proper ratio of exposed shin.

Turns out Jenn was right. I got out a map of the area, and she helped me sound out the hard words. I located the Washington Monument right away. Fortunately our children know how to read a map and helped us find the area Jenn wanted to take us. Sure enough, there were little dotted lines. Everyone knows little dotted lines mean hiking trails…or possibly wolf feeding zones…we were hoping for trails. Jenn just smiled smugly.

We packed a picnic lunch to enjoy after our hike. I also secretly encouraged the boys to bring their survival kits in case we got lost. We loaded in the family Suburban and headed for the hills. Characteristic for our family, we had to return to the house twice for forgotten items. It was late morning and the weather was pleasant. There seemed to be a lot of traffic on the dirt road we traveled, but hunting season had recently opened.

Wapiti Loop

After several false sightings, Jenn spotted a trailhead sign she thought was familiar. It said “Wapiti Loop”. As we turned onto the primitive road, I took the opportunity to display my knowledge to our children. I said, “Did you know that “wapiti” is Native American for mountain bike? I heard several snickers from the back seat and Jenn rolled her eyes so hard I thought they might get stuck. It happens to her a lot…must be a problem with her contacts.

We crawled over rocks and ruts with tree branches scraping the sides of the Suburban. Jenn said, “I think this might be a Jeep trail hon. “ I decided it would be prudent to park then, at a wide spot where we might possibly turn around. We clambered out of the vehicle sucking in the fresh air. I sucked a little too hard and inhaled a few no-see-ums. Coughing, choking, and gasping I asked everyone, “Isn’t this great?”

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From where we parked, the road continued into the woods with trails branching of in several directions. They were marked by reflectors every so often and had quaint names like “Meadow Trail”, “Wapiti Loop”, and “Danger, Do Not Enter”. Jenn pointed us to the one headed in the direction she recalled from her supposed snowshoeing excursion. I tugged my capris down closer to my hiking boots before we set out.

We forge ahead

We crossed a small stream and followed the reflectors showing us the way. The trail split several times, and Jenn would confidently choose our path. Approximately ten minutes into our hike we came to another stream and a bit of a swampy area all around it. The children spotted the next reflector beyond  and quickly found a way across. Our faithful canine, Pearl, balked at the stream and whined. I had to carry her, writhing, while balanced on a limb the size of my wrist . Meanwhile, Jenn had gone off-trail to find a better crossing. I could see her struggling through brush and trees while attempting to navigate dry stones and fallen logs. Her progress was much slower than the kids, who were just disappearing ahead of us.

When Jenn struggled back to where I was, she was sweating and her hair was in disarray. I asked “Did you find a better path?” She just glared at me and set off to catch our children. Unexpectedly, we emerged from the trees within sight of our Suburban. Again, I inhaled deeply. “Smell that? Meadow Breeze, just like the hand soap in our bathroom. “

“Let’s try that trail next.” Jenn growled. That one did not lead to a meadow either. We hiked and explored for a while thoroughly enjoying each other and the forest. We had lunch when we returned to the Suburban. As we were seated on logs and rocks enjoying our sandwiches, three hunters walked toward us from the direction of the main road. They clutched rifles and were dressed head to toe in blaze orange. We snickered to ourselves after they passed because there wasn’t going to be a deer within miles after our troop had invaded the woods, and their pants touched the tops of their hiking boots.

As we drove on, headed for the ghost town of Leesburg, we spotted another trailhead. “I think that is the place I remember” Jenn said sheepishly.

Jenn, I would get lost with you anytime…in fact, I would be lost without you. Happy anniversary. Idaho doesn’t suck and neither does being married to an amazing woman.

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