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The smell of pine trees in the dark

Ahh…another interesting evening in the mountains, although this time wasn’t supposed to be as interesting as it was.  I had agreed to go on a hike with a friend to explore a new area.  The goal was to find a hike/trail that we could make into a group venture later in the summer.

Our hike started out nicely with a good trail and a beautiful views, it quickly turned into an adventure as we came upon a creek.  I think the hope was to be able to follow the creek on what should have been an established trail.  That didn’t happen.  There was an established trail, but the creek was following it, or rather the trail was the creek bed.  We tried going up and over bushwhacking our way over the hillside, but quickly turned back down towards the creek again as it looked a bit more promising and was our original intended route.  We didn’t want to get lost, you know.  As we followed the creek it became harder and harder to stay “dry”, making the alternative of walking in the creek much more appealing.  I tried to walk on top of the water for a bit, it didn’t work so well for me.  I think this is when I twisted my knee and ankle, making the rest of the hike a little slower.

As the evening went on (and yes – I mean evening as the sun was making a wonderful showing over the mountain tops) we bushwhacked a bit more until we ran across a trail that seemed to be following in the direction of the next waypoint loaded on our GPS.  But wait…something must go wrong…GPS batteries that is your cue to die.  Yes, they died but a spare should be in the pack on my hiking partner.  Spare batteries were there, but he wouldn’t find those for a least another hour or two.  You might be wondering now “an hour or two? What the heck were you doing” or “oh my, it must be dark by now, they’d better hurry up off that mountain”….I would be.  To answer your questions, I’m not sure what I was doing, I was following the direction of my hiking partner who promised me earlier he had never really been “lost” and did this type of exploring all the time.  Oh and yes, it was dark, very, very dark, and the thought of a Mountain Lion crossed my mind more than once!  A rattling (like a large cat) in the bushes is much scarier when you can’t see anything!!

Now, since it was dark and the trees and hills blocked any light we might have received from the city or the stars it was time to get the lamp out and walk with some artificial light.  OK…I guess it’s a good thing I carried a light…my partner forgot his.  No problem, one light should be plenty if you don’t consider the second person would have to wear his sunglasses to vaguely see a tiny bit because he was practically blind otherwise. His clear glasses were thought to have been left in the car on accident.

We trekked along, stopping to look at the map more than once.  All the while discussing how this trail seemed to be going the general direction we should be headed, west.  West, I believed would take us to a road that would then lead us back to the car.  But wait…didn’t I say we found some batteries later for the GPS? Oh yes, and that was a problem…as much as it might not seem that way.  Now, my job became “no…I really don’t want to lead a blind man through the forest (with downed trees/rocks/and everything else) in the pitch black with only one light to a trail we MIGHT run across.  Can we please stay on this trail where I already have to make sure you don’t trip on a rock, fall and break your ankle (again)?”

Eventually he listened to me and we stayed on the “safe” trail, which ultimately did lead to a road that led us back to the car.  The car looked so nice and inviting (not to mention warm – I was in a tank top and shorts), when we finally saw it at 3:00am.  How is the blind man going to drive me back to my car with sunglasses on?  Turns out the glasses weren’t in the car…they were in his pocket the entire time!  Oh well…now for the 70 minute drive down the mountain to my car so I can go home and call in sick to work and nurse my injured knee a bit.

The exploration hike turned into an adventure (for me at least) very quickly.  I’m not sure I was ever in any real danger but the extra food and water we brought were gone, I should have had a jacket (but his poncho worked as well as it could), extra batteries and glasses might be a good thing to carry, and one should always carry a light.  We were less than 10 miles from Boise, but it just proves that you really can never be over prepared.  Safety gear will come in handy at some point and you really should have it with you.  I’ll be stocking up a bit more in the future.

From what I could see, the terrain seemed to be wonderful and I can’t wait to go back and see it in the daylight.  Our goal was achieved and I/we will take hikers on a part of this trail sometime this summer (not the whole 10 miles, of course).  Just need to figure out what to call it, “lost hikers trail” or “blind man’s trail”?

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