I am sort of a creature of habit. I took up hiking a couple years ago. I tended to go to just a few trails over and over again. I would go to Deer Creek Canyon (and the Red Loop at the top), Bergan Peak or Mt. Falcon Park. I did this for several reasons. One, I knew where they were, where the trails lead (where they loop around to), and about how long it would take me complete the trail. Two, it is safer to know that where you are going has a bit of foot traffic – as a single girl hiking by myself I thought the trail should have either some people coming by every once in a while or at least somewhere that I would be able to get a cell phone signal. and Three, I could really just let my mind wander and work through whatever I needed to be thinking about (because I didn’t have to think about the trail). So when my friend Paul suggested we hike together, I though AWESOME we can try somewhere new.
I have tried other hikes by myself most of which were not as difficult as I had hoped (Three Sisters) or I found myself sort of bored. We looked up trails near my home and that were moderate or difficult on a website/app called AllTrails.com. AllTrails indicated that Indian Creek was a 14.5 mile loop – so we filled my backpack with water, a couple bananas and a few peanuts. Paul also had a backpack with a smaller water bottle and the umbrella (weather was thought to be a possibility). We drove to the edge of Pike National Forest. Parked the car. Strapped on our packs and set out for what we thought would be a three or so hour hike (the time we had done Deer Creek Canyon it was 2.5 hours and 11 miles). It was a lovely walk for quite a while. We enjoyed crossing the river/creek/run-off from one side to the other, across logs and fields. We headed what felt like almost up hill the whole way. We stopped at the top of a hill and asked a mountain biker his suggestion on where we should go. In my experience almost all the trails seem to lead in loops to get people back to their cars. The biker suggested we go to the bottom of the hill and then make a sharp (U turn like) right. We did so. When we got part way up that hill we couldn’t really tell if it was really a trail or a drain off gully. So we turned back around and headed back down to where we made the sharp U Turn. We continued on the path that went past the turn. (Nothing was marked or had signs – again most of the hills I’m used to hiking have some trail markers).
When we arrived at the top of the next hill – we realized we were along a powerline trail (It was not only marked but there were giant power lines sizzling above our heads and it was starting to rain a bit). So we continued on the trail heading toward what we thought was the point of where the loop would turn. At the point of the turn in the loop – (we were using GPS on our phones and AllTrails app maps), we headed up the hill. We quickly realized that this trail sort of ended at an abandoned old house (historical site). And also to really make things fun – we saw a chunk of fur in the grassy area and then peeking behind the bushes saw two full on skeletal remains of what we think were deer. After seeing that we fairly quickly decided to head toward the road – even though this was not the way the trail looped and it would send us away from our car. Also, at this point we were four hours into the hike that was supposed to only last a couple.
Heading down the hill, we noticed some giant tracks in the mud. I am no naturalist but I would really think it was the paw print of a mountain lion. We were also starting to run out of water. I had fairly guzzled the backpack full of water thinking it was only a couple hours and Paul had only taken small sips. So we were getting thirsty – and by the way of the map – we still had 7 or so miles to go (and my Fitbit had tracked that we had already gone 10 or so). The road/trail we were on led to the Roxborough Visitor’s Center where the super nice lady gave us a ride back to the car. It was nice of her – but I resented the fact that they kept saying, “these people who are lost.” We were not lost. We knew where we were and where we needed to be. That’s not lost right?
We will go back. Next time though, I think we will be more prepared. We will take more water, snacks, maybe a change of socks..we have even started a list of all the things we should be sure to include in the backpack. What are your Must-Haves? Have you even been lost – but really known where you are?