in Northern CA has to be one of the best places to have a writer's conference. Great food. Gorgeous scenery. And hundreds of other writers who delight in even the smallest adventure.
After my workshops today, I wandered away from camp and hiked through the towers of sequoia trees until my path petered out. Below me was a stream, and on the other side were two wide paths leading, of course, to mysterious new places. So I climbed down and crossed the water on a sliver of a log.
There was a local hiker on the other side so I asked her how to get back to camp. She told me it was easy. Go left and stay on the lower path until I found the foot bridge. Cross it, and I'd be back.
But the lower path didn't stay low. It climbed higher and higher until I was almost at the top of the steep hill. I looked for a side trail that would lead me back down to the river, but never saw one under the thick brush and leaves.
The path curved, and as I hiked around it, I saw a camo-dressed guy chopping wood. He ignored me as I stepped closer, smiled, and stepped closer again. "How do I get across the river?"
He refused to meet my eye, grunting back at me instead. "The bridge is out."
"Okay..." I started to turn. "Is there, like, another bridge that maybe isn't so out?"
He swung his ax into the log, pointed toward the trees, and said something about there being a chain and a bridge that way. Good enough.
Even though his directions were a little sketchy, I found the narrow bridge and discovered that the trail back to camp was blocked on the other side--a nice detail my ax-wielding friend might have mentioned.
I hiked up a new hill, away from the trail, and followed worn railroad tracks toward what I thought would be the camp. Instead I found a couple more people...and they took pity on me. The guy pointed toward a meadow and listed off the bridges I needed to cross and hills I needed to climb to get back. Thankfully, he was right, and an hour or so after I started my short hike, I walked back into camp.
I'm thinking that before I tackle Mt. Hermon's wilderness again, I may just get directions prior to my departure. Or maybe I'll take my cell with me so I can call for a little back-up. Or maybe I'll get really smart and take a friend.
After I told someone how I'd gotten lost on the mountain, she said it sounded like fun and asked if she could go hiking with me tomorrow. Only a writer would understand....