Remember that sci-fi novel from the early 60's??? Well, I re-wrote it yesterday!
As you might remember, I had decided to turn around and head back on the Marshland Trail, then by the Boardwalk Trail...then across the road to the RV... easy peasy....15-20 minute walk. Luckily it wasn't far because it was very hot, very muggy and very buggy, eventho' I had all the mosquito netting on...they were still really bothersome.
So I'm walking....and walking....and walking....something doesn't seem right. Hmmmmmm....I must have missed a turn. No big deal, I'll just turn around and walk for a few minutes and I'll see it. Hmmmmmmmmm....walking, walking, walking.... now this REALLY doesn't seem right. But I'm on a "trail" so if I just keep going it will probably circle around somewhere. Ahhhhh....let's look at the handy map! Trouble is, no where on it does it say "You Are Here". Well, I'll just keep walking... la de da... nice day for exploring, even with the heat... walking, walking, walking....still hearing rumblings of thunder from some direction. Not good since I didn't bring anything that my cameras will fit into. Oh well....I'm sure I'll be back to the campsite soon.
Nothing is resembling the map at all! Some of the trails I pass are actually called "roads"...they have a little wooden sign....I have no idea what that means....but they must lead to somewhere, but of course, they aren't on the map. Walking, walking, walking.....getting very hot, but drinking water. Ahhhhh.... let's look at Google Maps on the cell phone! Seems easy enough!
Hmmmmmmmmm....seems it can't locate me right now. Well, I'll just keep walking for awhile. (By now about 2 hours have passed.) Finally I come upon a spot that has a kiosk and a description of the view of yet another swampy spot. No map on the kiosk and this place isn't on my trail map for some reason. But, I'm still thinking about taking photos! At this point, little raindrops start coming down. I lay all of my stuff down and try to rearrange my little pack to fit the cameras in. Not really working. But, it's just barely sprinkling...will worry about it if it really starts raining....I can't be too far away from the campsite.
At this point, there are two ways to go....which route do I take? I decide to take the one marked E. Sanctuary Road. All roads lead somewhere...right? These aren't really "roads"...they are more like trails, but wide enough for a car. So, they are grassy, with just a hint of where tires would follow. Now I'm out of the forest and in a bit more of an open area. Have NO idea which way I'm going or where I've been! Walking...walking...walking.... my back is hurting and I can now feel blisters forming on the bottom of my feet, but it's getting later and later, still with the rain threat. Have to keep going....water is tasting pretty good right now!
This "road" eventually leads back into the forest. Great. Soon a deer jumps out and crosses my path about 20 feet in front of me....wondering what else could jump out! Bugs are getting bad...decide to spray Deet all around me. Where's the Deet spray???? I must have dropped it somewhere...the pockets in this little pack aren't very deep. Oh well. A little farther I have yet another option as which trail to take. Straight or take a left? For some, I'm sure, logical reason, I go left. Another "road" name. Time to check the map just in case I see something that will give me a clue. WHERE'S THE MAP??? Oh geeze....I must have left it back at the kiosk. WAY too far to go back and get it. Oh well...I'm lost anyway, that stupid map hasn't helped me so far anyway.
Getting really tired now. Water is getting low. I try Google Maps again and VOILA! Success! It has found me! This "road" is on Google! But EGADS! I'm almost at the other end of the reserve! (The reserve is 24,000 acres.) How did I get way down here??? But at least GPS can get me back now. Ok...it looks like I have to walk just under TWO MILES and then make a turn. TWO MILES?? That's a long, long way at this point...running low on H20, feet are hurting more, very hot...cell phone battery is depleting....but I have to keep moving....
Walking, walking, walking....hit the two mile spot and turn. Now GPS is telling me to go another 1.3 miles to the next turn. YOU'VE GOT TO BE KIDDING! This isn't good! But I trudge onward with another deer jumping out across my path and up ahead....what's that? I've got my trusty camera....looks like wild turkeys! I can barely lift the dumb camera at this point, but I get the shot before they trot into the woods. Yay!
On I go....I finally reach what looks like a "real" road...one of those sandy, dirt roads. It's on the map, so I should be home free soon! No chance! Google says WALK another mile and I'll get to a regular paved road....thinking it's the one I was on before getting to the reserve. Also remembering it was still a long way from the camp site from that point. Can't think about that...have another mile to go before I even get there....if I do! Walking...walking...walking...this is NOT fun! But at least I know where I am.
I get to the paved roadway and actually try to wave someone down, but he didn't see me. It's not a busy road at all...I wait a few minutes....no cars....might be awhile before another car comes by. I can walk on this road, or take a "short cut" on another one of the forest roads. "Short cut" sounds really good about now, eventho' I'm walking, not driving. GPS says it's almost another mile to get to the road the campsite is on which goes back into the reserve...the one with the pretty canopied trees. I'm never going to make it...have about 1" of water left....but I have to keep going...I can't be out here in the dark. Why would I have brought a flashlight for a short, 20 minute hike in the middle of the day???? I can barely walk by now...
FINALLY, I reach Santee Gun Club Road!!! I can see on GPS where I am on the road. I remember when I was coming here it was 3 miles from the beginning of this road to the campsite. Hmmmmmmm...I'm not very far up the road at this point...so I'm estimating I have at least 2 more miles to go. By now, I have stopped to rest for a couple of minutes several times....barely sipping water to conserve what I have....can't really think about much except just getting back "home"! Follow the Yellow Brick Road keeps running through my head. My cell phone battery is very low now, but I don't need it any more so I make one call for moral support - it's now 6:00pm....no answer. I've been trekking for over 4 hours straight. Gotta keep going...there is light at the end of the tunnel.
For perspective, this is basically what the whole thing looked like. I don't know if I got every twist and turn on here, but you get the idea. Where the camera is should have been the entire hike...from one circle to the other and back. Obviously, the red line was the reality! The face is what I was feeling like about then!
Just when I think I can't take another step I hear something behind me...IT'S A TRUCK (not a bus)! I flag them down and see it's an "official" truck from the reserve. I ask them if they could please take me up to the campsite. "No problem!" HALLELUJAH! Come to find out they are alligator researchers who work at night...they were towing a boat. The driver said there are 250-300 alligators "around here".... have even seen some crossing the road we were on. Yikes! Confirmed that splash I heard in the Marshland Trail swamp. Anyway....a couple of minutes later, they drop me right in front of the RV. Lifesavers!!
I hobbled in and ripped off my clothes which were soaking wet, downed about a gallon of water, turned on the A/C and looked at the quarter-size blister on the bottom of each foot and collapsed. It was now 6:40pm. What should have taken 15 minutes, took over 4.5 hours. The average person walks 3-3.5 miles/hr...do the math! LOL! I couldn't even fix dinner. And even worse, I didn't have enough energy to even make a *mostly ice* drink, i.e., something alcoholic!
But, it all ended fine. Now this was an adventure! Kinda wanted to see a gator tho'! Moral of the story:
When The Going Gets Tough....