One of my favorite hobbies is to hike. Usually, the trails chosen are fairly easy and resemble Old Man’s Cave at Hocking Hills. Wide open spaces, awe inspiring cliff faces and tiny caves one can crawl in to investigate. It’s nearly impossible to be lost or unsure of where you are. As long as you stay on the trail. It was decided to check out Alum Creek to see if we can discover trails. Alum Creek is a beautiful state park in Lewis Center about 10 minutes from where I live. That drive definitely beats the 2 hours to Hocking Hills. So, we gave it a whirl.
Rocks and Roots Trail came up in a Google search, we parked at the end since that is where GPS sent us. I like to live a little adventurously, so I just went with it and did no additional research. The sign at the beginning said one trail was 2.8 miles and the second was 4.5 miles. So off we went in the direction we thought was 2.8 miles.
In the beginning, I felt exhilarated. Nature and hiking has been my favorite things and I am reminded of this as we trek near the water, hop over a tiny creek, and clambered across small trenches carved by rain over time. Coming around a bend, I look to my left because I had a feeling of being watched. Noticing movement, I can make out a deer between branches of a tree growing vertically. This moment was magnificent. The deer didn’t take off. It stood there staring, probably deciding whether we were friendlies or were foes. After a brief moment, it bowed its head to eat the vegetation. Message clear: we are friendlies. 😊 We noticed a second one further back, camouflaged by the low hanging branches filled with leaves. After admiring for a few more moments we moved forward.
As we continued further and further into the woods, the path became overgrown. Obviously this was not a well worn section, but we kept going not really thinking anything of it. There were markings on the trees and ground. That eased any thoughts of getting lost. At one point, we almost turned around. The winding and rough path gave an illusion that the journey was longer than actuality. I said “Let’s keep going. I have a feeling we are almost to the end and to find that we were so close but turned around would be disappointing”.
Ten minutes went by. Then twenty minutes. Oh god, when will this ever end! Energy was depleting and misery was setting in. Hard. I seriously just wanted to quit. Stop moving and give up right then and there. GPS on our phones weren’t really useful. We did notice a housing development nearby. The only problem was just how we were going to get there. I had an inkling we chose the longer path and not the intended path. Looking at our GPS confirmed that when we could see the easier path alongside the housing development. What a blow. We were stuck on this godforsaken trail with no end in sight. Getting back to the car was the only thing I wanted. Getting back into hiking was meant to be eased into. Short and easy. These thoughts kept running through my mind. Focusing on the negative and where I wish I were wasn’t helping anyone.
Stopping at a tiny clearing, I ate an orange hoping food would help clear my mind. Color to my face and energy immediately coursed through my body. It was like how I imagine the feeling of injecting myself with Jet from Fallout would feel.
Something like this!
Which only lasted 10 minutes and I was back to fighting with my mental strength to keep pushing. My feet were starting to rub wrong, my thighs were burning and I just wanted to breakdown and cry out of sheer exhaustion. Out of fear that we won’t make it out. Silly, irrational thoughts will pop up. In reality, we both had our phones. We would make it out.
I didn’t realize how easy it is to fall into the pit of darkness in the mind. How fast you can believe in hopelessness. Where I believed I was strong and can make it through anything, I was finding that I can be broken down just as easily as anyone else.
Nonetheless, I put one foot in front of the other. My husband encouraging me and ensuring me I am doing great.
Then a fork in the trail! Pulling up the GPS we discovered it was pointing to the housing development and the easy trail home. A decision had to be made. Trust that this new trail will truly bring us to where we need or keep going on the current trail. The fact the new trail was going in the direction we needed, was good enough for me. Thunder was rolling. I wanted to get back before the rain began. With this new hope, my walk had a new spring in it and we made it to the easy trail! We were right! Thank goodness.
We still had to trek it back. The rain started, but good thing we packed rain jackets in case. We made a pit stop to put on our jackets and replenish with electrolytes. I reallllly had to pee. And I considered holding it because I knew restrooms were nearby. Since I didn’t know how long it would take and in case we ended up in another kerfuffle, I squat down and let it all out. Screw it. I’ve earned a bit of indecency.
I have never been so happy to see the car coming into view. Soaked and exhausted we have finally made it back.
Happiness exuded from every bit of me.
I freakin’ did it!
WE did it.
I’ve had mentally trying times. Nothing comes close to the distress of not knowing when it would ever end. When can I go home? This puts many things in perspective and contributes to the feeling of empathy towards anyone who goes through this on a daily basis.
We walked about half of the actual trail we took. In total, the trip was 5 miles. Never have I walked this long other than Disney World. At least Disney has some basic comforts and clear destination.
Through all I really want to do this again. Now that I know I am fully capable, this will be a serious hobby from here on out.
Pinterest here I come!