Posted by: aidshike | February 28, 2013

SCRATCHING IN THE NIGHT – an adventure to forget – day nine


Howdy Shelly,

So…I haven’t blogged in over a week. Lots has happened including an evening that I will never forget…One that was truly humiliating and one where a mistake cost me fear, pain and discomfort. I went for a hike at Robert E. Lee Park (on the same trail I went on when I wrote “Finding Myself in Nature”) too close to sundown and being too adventurous for my own good. I was only prepared for an hour hike but decided to take the more challenging path that runs parallel to the main path. As darkness descended I began to get more and more concerned because I had gotten myself completely lost

The night sky was covered by clouds and there was no moon in sight so it was completely dark in about 15 minutes after I got off the path. I tried numerous times to retrace my path and only got myself more and more turned around. I let my eyes adjust to the darkness and began following any trail that I could in hopes of finding the main trail and a path out of the park back to my car. At one point I heard water and hope that walking by it would lead me to the bridge I had crossed, but like much of the terrain it was up and down and crossed over and back over a creek that I only found when my my feet got wet over my boots to my ankles. My sense of direction was out of whack and I learned later that many of the paths that I traveled (that got thinner and thinner) were deer paths.

As a “good” Eagle Scout I was not prepared at all – no flashlight and as I would curse myself later … no knife. I pulled out my phone and began using the flashlight app that was on it but when I tried to call the friend I was supposed to meet for dinner I was even more scared when I found out that my phone had only 10% juice left. I tried to use the GPS but I could not use the GPS and the flashlight on the phone at the same time. Then the phone abruptly died

I began to get really scared and worried when my path seemed to lead me into a field  of prickle bushes, bramble bushes, thistle, prickly shrubs… whatever you want to call them…they were very deep and everywhere. I soon discovered that I had rapidly dug myself into a whole.  I tried walking in any direction but was truly stuck.


If I didn’t have my trusty walking staff with me I might have stayed stuck. I began to try to clear a path with my staff, but it was only a short help. I could clear about 2 feet at a time but I was getting “eaten alive” one spike at a time. I also had gloves that doubled as mittens which in retrospect were also great protection


But I was totally surrounded by pricks and spikes and I had no idea where I was going. Numerous times I fell down. Like one of those falls that feels like it is in slow motion…only enough time to try to brace my fall so that I wasn’t scratched up any more. This didn’t work much at all. Eventually I found a road but it was so far away. I was what seemed like only 150 feet away but it took me about 20-30 minutes to clear a path. I finally got to the road totally exhausted and again had simply no idea which way was home. I saw lights that appeared to be the main  road and I began a steep decline on the asphalt path that curved downward. I passed a gate to go back into the park but it had a daunting sign promising prosecution if one was there after dark.

So I walked down the road getting more and more worried where I was going. I passed one house that had no lights on besides those out front, passed another that seemed almost as dark and when I finally got to the light way down the hill I was truly saddened to see that not only was it another private house, but that the road abruptly ended there. So once again I summoned up energy and began heading up the steep hill only feeling defeated and weaker and weaker by the step. As I got back up to the second house I saw a gate with what looked like a path to the front door. I rang the bell and must have shocked the owners because I was literally in the middle of nowhere. After a short conversation asking for directions and with the wife asking where my car was (funny since I had a tall walking staff and was dirty and stanky) they offered to drive me back to my car.  It was a TWO and HALF mile drive back to the car. I have no idea how long I actually walked (or better yet stumbled) but I think it was over 6 miles total.

When I got back to my car I called my friend who I was supposed to meet for dinner and then when I got to a bathroom found out that the knees of my pants had torn, they were more brown from dirt that the khaki color they started … and that I had scratches from my ankles up past my thighs … many that were 3-4 inches long, and many on my knees that had dirt embedded in them. My friend looked at me and couldn’t think of what to say but “It sure is great to see you, glad you made it out”

I have been tending to my legs with soap, hydrogen peroxide and lots of Neosporin with pain relief since then and had to apply things for the pain as at first they stung and throbbed all over. So I could look back and be proud that I pushed through and got home. I must have fallen over a dozen times and the last few I almost just stayed on the ground surrounded by the nasty bushes to wait for sunlight. In addition to not being prepared with the right basic camping tools, I also had not tied my boots tight since I had only planned a short hike on a wide and flat path…which led to having them come off at the bottom of 2 feet or more of brambles… leading me to have to take off my mittens and feel around for the boot, and then try to tie the laces standing on one foot, which led to me falling a few more times and I had a few spikes from the thorns in my boots for the remainder of the hike. OUCH.


Moral of the story: Don’t hike at twilight. Don’t try to be ambitious on trails that might get you lost when it does become dark. Tie your boots tight. Pack a flashlight even for the shortest trip. And avoid getting stung by so many thistles that it began to feel like batches of jelly fishes on the ground

So I write this totally humiliated, embarrassed and dismayed but feeling that I need to document why I hope to become a better hiker. Oh well. My wounds have mostly healed but there are scars everywhere. My nurse told me they aren’t deep enough to leave a mark… marks… I sure hope so.


Last Friday: 6 miles

Saturday/ Sunday – home resting!

Monday: 1.7 miles

Tuesday: 1.5 miles

And today/Thursday: 1.3 miles


  1. I have already been able to laugh as I have shared this story and my wounds seemed to heal as fast as I was humbled by the experience

  2. What an inspiration story, have made me strong and ma strength just renewed.

  3. Moshe, I have my own story about briars… I think you will like it:

    Glad you found your way out!

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