I got lost today.
As I was standing in the forest encompassed by giant trees, for a brief moment I felt swallowed. I couldn’t make sense of which way was home because I was running a loop that I’d never done before. Standing there looking for some marker to show the trail, I couldn’t remember the turns I had taken off the main route to even get to where I came from.
Real smart, Emily.
Another really smart thing I did was not tell anyone where I was going. As my heart started beating a bit faster and I looked down at my phone with no service, I realized in that moment I was completely vulnerable.
I hadn’t seen footprints in the mud for a few kilometers, and it had been raining all morning. It’s wild- all of the places your mind will take you in moments of vulnerability. I started to imagine I was being stalked by a mountain lion, or what would happen if I encountered a bear. I was completely vulnerable to my surroundings, and in a moment of uncertainty and possible foolishness I only had one choice.
To trust my gut.
And my gut of course, said to do just one more foolish thing: not stay put or retrace my steps back to the main trail, but to forge my own path along a riverbed that headed downward (meaning it must be the direction of the road, right?)
My decision to not make wise choices came from sheer negligence. I knew going onto the trail that I would lose cell service. I knew that no one knew where I was. I knew it was a bit of a complicated loop with lots of unmarked trails.
What I also know is that even in foolishness, and even in getting lost in the wilderness, my gut will lead me home.
There’s power in being vulnerable, open to your circumstances, and trusting that you have everything you need to get yourself home. Trusting that pure logic will lead you and that your gut and sense of direction will launch your feet into the steps you need to be taking.
For those of you that follow my blog, you know that everything I allude to in my wilderness adventures is a metaphor, so I’ll let you put two and two together (trust your gut so to speak) with this one.
Getting physically lost, I knew that I made some dumb choices out there. Among them, not bringing water was the most important to me (I may have been nursing a light hangover).
Bush wacking my way for a couple kms and battling the stories about noises that I heard made me hyper aware of my vulnerability. And also, that I am actually in fact, not invincible.
But right when I needed it to, my intuition kicked in. First it punched my pride in the face (yes I should have called someone, been aware of my path and brought water), but then it reminded me of how smart and capable I am to handle a wide many unforeseen circumstance that may come my way.
Some while later I found a post with a marker and it led me to a trail and then out to a road. Finding the road was like a breath of fresh air. A measure of success that even in my stupidity I can make it out okay.
Even in life if i don’t always make good choices and even if I have a moment of panic, I have everything I need to overcome and forge a path.
Make sure when you go for a solo hike into the mountains you call someone. It’s probably the best idea.
Oh, and if you’re hungover, bring water.