We hiked in for 2.5 miles and had lunch by a stream where Bonnie swam and Clyde was filled with anxiety over his fear of water. Which is really a big existential crisis for a Labrador Retriever and left him absolutely exhausted. Not to mention his buddy the lazy kid who complained the whole way to the stream and showed no signs of stopping anytime soon. That lazy kid, counterintuitively, exerts a huge amount of time and energy into being a huge pain in the ass. Which is actually kind of commendable. Sort of.
It was the way back on a trail, that wasn't well marked, where we got lost. As a person, with a terrible sense of direction, this happens to me quite frequently, so I wasn't alarmed. At first. We joked about it. Like who we'd eat first if worst came to worst. And then we had that awkward moment when we all voted for the same person. That lazy, whiner kid, just so there was no more endless droning on and complaining. We bushwhacked to try to get back on the trail. Before we just tried to get on any trail.
We were lost for 4 hours. Making this a 6 hour hike.
And we were out of water without cell service.
Which is when two of the kids started catastrophizing, which is highly contagious. And my reserves were already low from dealing with that lazy, whiner kid. So although I was saying all the right positive, encouraging things, my head started to swirl with worst case scenarios a bit. What if we have to carry a 85 lb dog with heat exhaustion out? What if someone gets bit by a rattlesnake? And that DVD I had to return to the library was due the next day. What if I got charged a late fee, because I was dead in a forest hiking with a 85 lb dog on my back and a rattlesnake bite? WHAT THEN?
And just for a while, all the bullshit got stripped away.
The fighting stopped. Because we all knew what was truly important. Even that ungrateful, lazy, whiner kid. As late afternoon approached, we took a family vote and headed in the winning direction. Which in a couple of miles led us to an empty hunting cabin and in a couple more miles led us to someone's home. And a very kind person who drove us back to our car at the trail head. In hindsight, maybe that poisonous mushroom we saw early in the hike was a sign. Maybe that we're all metaphorically lost and need to find our way back home at some point. Or maybe we should just bring a GPS next time.