You won’t believe it, but I got lost in the woods and an Uber saved me!
Ever read or hear those news stories about people who get lost in the woods and end up calling 911 because they got lost? And then, you wonder, how can that actually happen? Well, it happened to me recently. Honestly, I was beyond scared but did my best to keep it together. Having my dog kept me calm.
Trauma of Being Lost
A few things in this universe frighten me. Getting lost is one of those things. When I was several years younger, maybe a pre-teen, I took a walk with a cousin through my grandma’s neighborhood. We separated and for the life of me, I could not find my way back to 11 Budd Avenue and my grandma’s distinct, olive-green colored trailer. I walked around and around the neighborhood, thinking her trailer had moved as a bad joke on me. Eventually, my cousin came to the rescue and found me.
Over the years and to this day, I have recurring dreams of being lost and not being able to find where I need to be. I realize no one enjoys getting lost, although, sometimes it is about the journey rather than the destination, but the thought of being lost terrifies me.
During my travels, I have gotten lost many times and I have been able to find my way to where I need to be. Not on this particular night.
Enjoying Benefits of Daylight Saving
In keeping my New Year #20in20 goal of moving more, I have been visiting a local park each evening and walking my dog. I decided visiting Oaks Park in North Port, Florida, a pretty park with live oaks, palm trees, the Myakkahatchee Creek, ravine, and hiking and mountain biking trails. What it does not have is a map or signage indicating trails, at least none I could find or see.
I hit the dog-friendly park about 6:30 p.m. which gave my dog, Radcliff, and I about an hour in the park. We followed it along the creek and followed a narrow bridge across it. Two mountain bikers passed us and I figured it must be a loop trail. But as we walked along the ridge of the ravine, I did not see any bridges across. On my phone, I could see where I needed to go. But, trails are not mapped. Google Maps said it would take two hours to reach the trailhead. TWO HOURS!
Wait. I’m Lost!
I was at the point where I knew if we turned around, it would be very dark going back. If I pushed forward, it was wishful thinking of finding a bridge across. The ravine was about 20 feet high and steep down. Bushwacking and climbling down and across the creek and up the other side was not an option. It was not safe. Plus, my battery was dying. Do I save it for light or for GPS for a two-hour walk?
I found a way to cross the creek which meant wet and muddy feet. I saw two young men and asked, which way is the parking area. They directed me to a road. What? Another entrance into the park?
I followed the entrance/exit out and sure enough, it was a road. In what looked like the middle of nowhere. Sometime during the 20th century, roads were built in North Port with anticipation homes would be built. Today, many of these roads are overgrown with weeds and grasses with little to no signs of development.
There was enough light and I decided to go back into the park, confident I could make it to the parking area. After walking for at least 20 minutes and well past sunset, I ended up a short distance from where I just left. How did that happen? It was like a bad horror movie of walking forever in the woods only to end up back where I started.
Uber Saves Lost Hiker
One of my faults is my reluctance for asking for help. But this time, I knew I needed help. I tried finding an Uber but none were available. They told me to try again later. Friends I texted and called were unavailable.
There was some moonlight but it was dark enough, there aren’t any streetlights out there, and the mosquitoes were buzzing. Second time’s a charm and I did find an Uber. He was 20 minutes away and he saved my sanity. Thankfully, the mud we picked up in the creek had dried off and we didn’t leave any dirt in the car.
After summonsing an Uber, I called the North Port Police (non emergency line). First, telling them I did something dumb. I got lost in the woods! Then, I told the wonderful dispatcher know if they saw my vehicle at the park, that I am okay. The dispatcher was wonderful
The Uber ride to my car was about 20 minutes. I know we did not walk that far but because of the roadways and creek, that’s how long it took. My driver was awesome. He asked if my car had fuel and a working battery.
I Was So Unprepared
I had planned for a brief walk in the woods and not a night in the woods. It could have been worse. And, I realize how I was unprepared. I had a water bottle for Radcliff, some treats for him, my iPhone with dying battery, and my car key. I left my purse, with ID, in the car, along with my key chain, which has a whistle. A friend, an experienced outdoorsman, asked if I had something to make a fire. Of course not! Unless my iPhone battery combusted! No matter how short the planned hike or walk, I will be better prepared. I already ordered a Fire Starter Necklace, in pink, of course!
What is one thing you carry when out for a short walk?
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