I know I'm in here constantly endorsing the benefits of hiking for fitness and try to pass myself off as an outdoorsy type, but I'm ready to fess up that my experience of last Sunday has made me re-consider my favoured form of exercise.
I live little more than ½ hour from the sprawling metropolis of Canada's largest city, yet minutes from my subdivision there are still farms and forests. In fact, my favourite trail system is only 10 minutes away by car, so a friend and I decided to take advantage of the cool, yet spring-like weather, and set out for a wee hike.
It's an 18km paved trail system within a beautiful valley with plenty of wooden steps, dirt pathways up steep hills, and sturdy bridges over babbling brooks, so it's a really good workout that takes just under 2 hours, depending on your choice of trail. On Sunday though, it turned into a 5 hr. nightmare.
Not content to walk the marked trails, my friend (who considers herself a true nature nut) insisted we venture into the surrounding forest to make for a more challenging workout and so we could truly appreciate our surroundings in their most natural form. "What if we get lost?" I asked timidly. She assured me that so long as we walked in a southerly direction we'd never be too far from civilization and, in any event, we'd eventually meet up again with the trail system. I was a bit skeptical because, as mentioned, we were deep in a valley, surrounded by Canadian Shield and though subdivisions and strip malls may be in close vicinity, getting to them is a different matter. However, I followed her blindly into the abyss.
Oh yeah, it was nice for the first hour or two, until a frog leaped up out of a bog and bounced off my stomach, the shock of which caused me to stumble and brush my leg against poison ivy (excuse me while I re-apply my calamine lotion), and then I walked straight into a low branch (forehead height) because I was looking down trying not to step in deer poop, and, to complete the poop equation, a Canada Goose (no doubt back from wintering down south) flew over and pooped on the top of my head. Okay, I'd had enough and didn't mind telling my friend I was ready to be led back to the trail so we could find our way to the parking lot, go home and clean up. One look at my friend's face told me all I needed to know. Then she confirmed my worst fears – we were well and truly lost.
I was not a happy camper (in fact, had I been a camper at least I would have had a tent and provisions). As we wandered around aimlessly I tried to think what Richard Hatch would do. My survival skills being non-existent, I began to fear what would happen when it got dark (I think I read somewhere that you can start a fire by rubbing two boy scouts together, but that wasn't an option).
As time went on I had to inform my friend we were clearly going around in circles. When she asked how I knew, I was tempted to say it was because I remember having already seen that rare coniferous tree to our right, but the truth was we'd passed the same dang squirrel at least 20 times and at this point it was rolling around the ground laughing it's tail off at us. Miss Know It All Nature Lover told me not to panic because she knew that the sun sets in the west, moss grows on the east side of trees, streams run in a southerly direction and the petals of Trillium flowers always point north. So, as far as I could figure, we were in a south-easterly north-westerly position, which meant absolutely jack to me because I'd been kicked out of Girl Guides over 30 years ago for smoking (before having attained any orientation badges)!
Presently a gust of wind arose. My friend wet her finger, then held it up to determine what direction it was blowing. However, I was suddenly distracted by a sense of the oh so familiar. My friend saw the look of revelation on my face and anxiously asked if I'd seen or heard something. "I smell KFC" I bellowed. I instinctively followed that scent of chicken flesh rolled in herbs and spices burbling in boiling trans-fat. Reaching a particular spot, I stopped and pointed skyward – "It's up there".
Naturally it meant having to scale a sheer cliff (well, let's say it was a VERY steep hill) which was tough going as the dirt was still soft and moist and difficult to grip. I thought at one point I'd have to abandon my bra and use it as a lasso (I figured the cups would fit securely around a couple of boulders and I could hoist myself up – but I feared for my friend, seeing as her bra would do little more than dislodge a few pebbles.) Fortunately it did not come to that, as eventually we were able to scramble up (after some belly shimmying). As we crested that cliff, bloodied and muddied, lo and behold our salvation stood in all its glory; proof that my nose had not failed me – KFC!
It had been over five hours and I was a little light-headed (not to say thirsty and hungry), so perhaps I just imagined that the Colonel's beady eyes were willing me to enter, yet did I succumb to his charms?? NO!! Okay, I have to admit it might have been because the only money we had was my emergency telephone quarter, which I promptly fished out of my soggy hiking boot and used to call a cab to take us back to my car!
I'm considering joining a gym.