It has been a while since I have written about a hike, so I knew it was time to tell another tale. Not to mention, my Saturday hike through Golden Gate Canyon State Park does not only deserve a review; it deserves a story.
One of the reasons I have not written many “happy hiking” blogs as of late is because of the way I have been feeling. I attempted a 14-er several weekends ago but was not able to make it to the top, and how could I write about a hike without mentioning the summit? On Saturday morning, I was feeling better than most days, so I was excited to go on a short hike with friends (4-4.5 miles).
My fiance, two friends, and I all packed in my friend’s jeep renegade and hit the road. We drove to the State Park and decided to choose one of four trails that were moderately short with less difficulty. In the end, we chose the “Burro” trail, which was a 4.5 mile loop marked “difficult.”
This rating must have been based on the steady incline to the “summit.” Because this was a loop trail, rather than out-and-back, there was not necessarily a summit off Burro Trail. (Key words: not necessarily)
About 2.5 miles into the hike, we stopped at a teepee that we had found in the middle of the forest to eat our packed lunches. It was a nice break on our legs and the food fueled our systems for what was much longer than the 2 miles back to the car–yes, this is foreshadowing for the English nerds out there…
After finishing our lunches and starting our hike back to the car, we crossed a sign that pointed toward several routes: 1) back to the car, 2) .7 miles further to see the “summit” with 360 degree views, 3) continue on another trail.
At this point, my friend’s hiking shoes had carved blisters into her heels, I was starting to feel my fatigue kicking in, and we decided that adding 1.4 miles onto the 4.5 miles was beyond our desires for the day. However, my fiance and his friend had the “we really want to do it” look in their eyes, so we told them to head up and we would meet them at the bottom.
Just as they started their run up the mountain, a storm cloud rolled over, and we knew we didn’t have much time.
My friend and I had been walking at a steady pace and enjoyed some deep conversation. We even listened to some Martina McBride and saw a beautiful elk. Soon enough we came to a fork in the road, leading to either “Mountain Lion Trail” or “Mountain Lion Trail.” We were rather confused as we had not passed another turning point onto Burro and figured that by looking at the map, this trail would reconnect back to Burro.
It didn’t. Not really.
So as the clouds got darker, and they started to spit some rain on our backs, we walked a little faster and hoped for the best. We figured that by this point the guys had probably made it back to the car, and we wondered what they would think if we weren’t there yet.
Luckily, we came across a very friendly couple who we felt comfortable asking for directions. They showed us the map, told us where to turn to get to the parking lot, and then mentioned how there were two lots for Burro. Hmm…we were about 1 mile from the initial parking lot, but the couple told us that if we did not see our car there, that it would be at the next lot. We could take a service road and then hop back onto Burro Trail for 1.6 miles to get to our car.
So we walked. And it started to pour. And then we saw some lightning bolts hit the ground in the distance. The thunder roared an echo through the mountains, and we admitted to each other that we were scared. With nowhere to take cover, we decided that if it got worse and we needed protection, we would lay as low to the ground as possible. Instead, we kept walking–wanting to get back ASAP but still having miles to go.
The storm was scary, but it cleared. We made it to the first parking lot, knew it was not the right one, and continued to the service road. With my friend’s massive blisters and my quick loss of energy, we started to sing “Lean on Me” to keep ourselves motivated. And as we sang, we heard, “Alllllliiiiiiii!” We immediately sang louder and realized this was our “rescue song.” We then yelled back at my fiance, and he came sprinting toward us.
Apparently he had run 6 miles on the trails while trying to find us….as we walked the additional 2-3. He had known exactly what wrong turn we had made when he passed it on his way down, and when we weren’t at the car, he started a search.
We are all safe, and we have a story to tell.
We also learned that we aren’t going to have anymore impromptu split-ups on the trails. Not having cell service and wandering around looking for each other in the middle of a storm was probably not the most ideal situation, but in hindsight, the thunder and lightning was a sight to see.
I must say that if I had to get lost with anyone in a forest, I am glad it was my best friend. And if I had to trust anyone to sprint 6 miles in the middle of a storm to find us, it would be my fiance.
What an adventure.