Anyone who knows me knows that, even though I’m not in the best physical shape, I LOVE to go hiking. The mountains are my happy place, and living in the foothills of North Carolina gives me easy access to them. However, I usually have a hard time finding people to go with me. My husband was never really been a fan of it and I don’t have many friends. About eight years ago, I thought that it would be a good idea to take my son Brent with me. Brent was about 5 or 6 at the time, and I thought that hiking would be a good way for us to spend time together outside of the house doing something free and fun.
Today, my son isn’t much of an outdoors man. However, he quite enjoyed going hiking with me when he was little. Our favorite place to hike was Hanging Rock State Park. Every few weekends we would pack a picnic lunch, douse ourselves in sunscreen, and take to the park. Because my son was so young, I chose to stick to the shorter trails that led to the lower cascade falls. Typically, the two of us would hike down to the falls, splash around for a little bit, and then head back to the picnic tables for lunch.
After hiking down to the falls one weekend, my son and I were still feeling adventurous and wanted to hike for a bit longer. At the end of the falls, I saw a sign that said “Indian Creek Trail 0.2 miles,” and decided that we would give it a try…big mistake. Brent and I followed the the warn trail path into the woods. There wasn’t much to see along the way aside from trees and foliage. I kept expecting to run into some kind of creek or body of water but we never did. We trekked further and into the forest. I was starting to feel that we had walked much further than 0.2 miles, but wasn’t sure if it would be quicker to turn around and go back the way we came or to keep pushing onward. Surely we must be close to the end, I thought.
I asked my son what he wanted to do, and he said he wanted to keep going. After spending another hour on the trail, I was really starting to worry that we had gotten lost. No other hikers were around us and my cell phone had no signal. The trail seemed less and less worn the further we walked down it. I can’t say how much longer we went on like this. It must have been at least several hours. I was exhausted and scared but was trying to mask it so Brent, who was skipping down the trail without a care, wouldn’t be scared. It seemed like we had not other choice but to keep going forward.
Eventually, my son and I emerged from the woods onto a road. Little did I know, we were only half way through our journey. I was disoriented at first. I looked left and right trying to figure out where we were. In the distance, I could see the entrance gate to the park. I was relieved at first, thinking that it would only be a short walk from the entrance gate to the parking lot, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. It didn’t take me long to realize that our entire walk would be on a winding incline, we were on a mountain after all. My son was finally starting to lose his stamina. The poor little guy started crying that his feet hurt, so I tried to carry him for a while on my back.
We had to take a lot of sit brakes. Cars rarely drove by, but when they did I tried to flag them down. No one stopped. Even the park workers zooming past on golf carts couldn’t see that we needed help. It had to have been at least several miles from the entrance gate to the parking lot. At some point, a man jogged up beside us. He was barely sweating as me and my son were drenched and panting for breath. He asked us how we were doing, commented on the weather, and then went on his way. I couldn’t believe that anyone would actually jog up this incline for fun!
We went on like this for another two hours. I almost cried when we crested the hill and could finally see the parking lot in the distance. Our feet were blistered and I had a raging sun burn despite the sun screen I had put on. I apologized over and over again to my son for the mishap. Thankfully he wasn’t too traumatized by it. However, I did learn an important lesson that day, never set off down a trail without researching it first!
Do you enjoy hiking? Have you ever found yourself lost in the woods? I would love to hear from you in the comment section below. If you enjoyed this post, please shoot me a like, comment, or follow.
Love Always, AnxiouslyM