Sunday, October 19, 2008

A Walk in the Woods

The day started innocently enough. The promise: a fall family hike in beautiful Brown County State Park.

We started on the trail at 11:30. "Let's make the kids exercise a little before lunch," Erik said. Sure, why not--we'd had a late breakfast. "Are you happy?" asked Matt. Yes, we were all happy.
Matt was rearing to go. Right away he found a walking stick.
"Sacajawea" on the trail. She was both a fast walker and a curious collector. By the end of the hike her pockets bulged with acorns. Her braids bounced with her.
While the trees are still in the process of turning, there was stunning color in surprising places.
Most of the time these two were way ahead of Matt and me.  
We looked for deer and other animals but only saw a bunny. We were probably too noisy. We clattered through leaves. We heard leaves falling to the ground.
After one hour we found our trail was correctly labeled "rugged" on the map. The map? Who left the map in the car? The same person who said we didn't need a map? Where was the trail? Matt was starting to cry. Apparently he thought we were only taking a short hike to a picnic table (he had seen me packing the lunch). There were steep ravines. Large logs to go over and under, thickets, thorny thrashing branches...
It was beautiful, though. We hadn't yet panicked. That happened after we walked back and forth three times along the horse path (according to one rider, "waaaay far away from the road and any trail"). Either we had gone off the trail or the trail was missmarked. A 2.2 mile trail shouldn't take two hours. Right?
Or three hours. Thankfully lunch can be where you make it. Matt perked up. Here, Sarah is still traumatized from seeing her mother squat behind a tree. It didn't seem to hamper her appetite, however. Erik's thinking hard: do we continue on the horse path? Or turn around, again? We see more people on horses who keep saying to us, "we never see people walking in these parts." Where are we?
I am carrying Matt who is so tired he doesn't try to hang on. This view makes me almost glad we are lost, though.
Finally, we hear voices. Cars. Erik leaves me and the kids at a playground, then literally runs up up up a steep ridge road--for an hour and 15 minutes--to find the car.

The kids play but tire after an hour. Sarah: "What if Dad never returns?" I remember the book I have at home on edible forest plants. 

At almost 4:00 we see Erik in the car, happily listening to the Colts. We are happy to be together. Going home. The fall color in my own backyard has never looked so lovely.

5 comments:

camillaknits said...

I got a spider bite last time I had to use a makeshift potty-tree, and my rear was a much smaller target back then. I'm glad everyone made it out alive. Donner, party of... one? C

amywb said...

What a great story to tell the grandchildren. Who, um, didn't think you needed the map?

Stacy said...

Oh my! Sounds like you had quite the adventure! Matt and I made it out to Brown County as well - but didn't hit the trails - just drove and made stops to take pics.

Emily said...

Okay, you totally scared me here! Guess I should have thought ahead that if you were blogging it, that meant you had definitely made it out alive.

Jen said...

What fun! I know what you mean about tramatizing the kids with squating behind a tree! My kids couldn't believe that I would do that! I've missed see you at church, we'll have to get together for lunch or something!