Let's Go on a Hike (Day 51, Year 3)

I think all hikes include certain phases--sort of like grieving--in which you cycle through a bevy of  emotions and behaviors, both functional and dysfunctional. Like today, we were all so excited for a day together eating at our favorite Pine Barrens spot (the Pic-A-Lilli) for wings, ears, corn fritters and fried pickles and then head into Wharton State Forest for a hike. 

Excitement is the first stage of hike emotions. 

We continued our excitement with a dash of adventure seeking when we decided we would not do our usual hike from Atsion Mansion and instead drive to a trail entry a little deeper in Wharton to hike and explore the Lower Forge Primitive Campground. Over lunch, Chloe and Mike discussed how they'd like to hike a larger section of the Batona Trail, camping halfway. They did not include the other three of us in this discussion; because apparently we are not "serious" enough.

This is the next stage of hike emotions: left-out feelings.

We began our hike and for a variety of reasons some of us felt left-out as we progressed. We all cycled through this feeling at our own pace. Mike felt left-out because he had no water. Nicholas felt left-out because he wanted to walk on the sandy road versus the pink trail. I was still angry that me, the WOMAN WHO IS A GIRL SCOUT LEADER AND REMEMBERED TO PACK HER OWN WATER, was considered not serious enough. Chloe went left-out because no one was screaming with her. Lily did not feel left out; but wished she was left out because we are all horrifying. 

At some point, we made it to the campground. Mike was disappointed there was not any potable water. But there was a primitive toilet (no one used this) and there was a man hanging up a tent hammock. I assume that man is on the run from the mafia or law enforcement or an angry girlfriend because WHY ELSE WOULD YOU CAMP IN THE WOODS IN FEBRUARY. Anyway, he did not kill us, so I guess it is fine.

This was another stage of hike emotions: fear. 

When it was time to begin our return journey to the car, a small contingency thought we should explore an unmarked trail that would be a short cut to the car. This trail included a river. You can see by the photo below that the upper right sections in red depict when we were stopped, angrily pacing and discussing all the reasons WHY WE SHOULD NOT FORD THE RIVER. 

The first reason is because we all know what happens on the Oregon Trail when you ford a river. 


The second reason is because we are not fording a river to take a shortcut and I do not even know why I was forced to entertain that idea. 

This is another stage of hike emotions: domestic arguments. 

Then, quickly, Nicholas entered the hysteria stage of hike emotions and sat down on the trail protesting the 3+ miles we'd have to walk back. There was a lot of whining and adjacent hysteria. Chloe, who took a break from walking and whittling a spear (she was still in the fear stage), amped up the hysteria by demanding Nicholas jump on her back. Lily began listening to Lady Gaga. Mike then put Nicholas on his back and off we went onto the stage of hike emotions that people who are walking in the desert for days feel: exhaustion, disenchantment, confusion and resignation. 

Chloe dug out her lantern and mentioned that at least we'd have light tonight when we LIVED IN THE WHARTON FOREST.

Eventually, of course, we made it back to the car, only by the Grace of the Lord and the luck of the fools. the children had a sudden burst of energy and ran into the vehicle, entering the final stage of hike emotions: relief. 

Of course, we are already planning our next hikes. . and will definitely make sure we don't have water or bandaids.