Lost. The beautiful green forest quickly became terrifying. Trees in every direction and no obvious way out.
I have camped as long as I can remember. And not campground camping with a tent pitched beside a car. Real backcountry camping.
Camping taught many lessons from trip planning, to hanging a bear bag, to reading a map and more. But one experience forever stands-out in my memory.
I was 12 and we took an older friend along to the Algonquin Park interior. She suggested we bushwhack and I agreed against my better judgement because I looked up to her. I had been taught not to wander and keep a landmark in view.
We became disoriented and lost in the woods. It quickly turned into one of the most terrifying experiences of my life. Eventually we stumbled across a trail. Panic set in as I realized it was a backpacking trail and could take days to walk out. She again convinced me to wander into the woods.
I thought about the stupidity of my decisions. About how I knew better. This was a early introduction to the consequences of peer pressure.
As the sun lowered in the sky, the short walk turned into hours. We stumbled across an old logging road and I suddenly got my bearings. We were far out, but I had a direction. With a deep breath I took charge of the situation. It was time to stop blindly following.
We arrived to my family preparing to contact the park rangers. We probably would have been fine, but not everyone’s story ends well. At 12 it was a horrifying experience. I vowed to never be talked into a poor decision again. A life lesson.
What have you learned in the wilderness?