What an interesting day. I wasn’t aware of it this morning, but the trail we selected for our first hike of the Summer Hike Program has 3 different starting points.
The location that the Ontario Parks site directed us to was partially hidden. Well, directions told us location would be on our left – but it was on the right. That, however, could have just been a Google map error.
SO… After driving ALL over Pelham and resorting to using our GPS, which took us to a different starting point than we wanted, we found the Roland Rd entrance. One other family found it too. In total there was me with two children, and another mom with two children, and grandma.
We began the trail and a man approached asking us if we were with the homeschool group. He said he just dropped his wife and kids off at one of the other starting points. So with a quick look at the map, we aimed to meet up with them half way. (Things didn’t quite work out as planned).
The top map was just for our current location. The bottom map shows the whole Short Hills area. We were at the small red trail area, and we were supposed to merge onto the yellow and meet up on the yellow path going up the right side of the map.
The trek began pretty slowly. The children stopped every few feet to look at critters or plants. It was awesome. There were fields of wild garlic, and LOTS of wild blackberries. Needless to say the children all had red finger tips after the hike. Below are some of the things we saw on this trail.
At one point, after hiking for almost an hour, we looked at the map, and could not really determine where we were. We ‘thought‘ we had gone the wrong way, and were heading up the yellow trail on the left side of the map. So before we got terribly lost, we decided to turn around and head back towards the cars.
Hmmm, that was interesting. We found our way back to the Red path. We noticed markers on trees as we were heading back, pointing to other parts of the trails, that we could NOT have seen from the direction we had originally been walking. At that point, grandma decided she was going to go back to the car at her own pace, and we were going to venture up (what we thought) was the yellow trail on the right of the map. We were side by side with the red trail, so we were pretty sure of where on the map we were walking. With Grandma off on her own, it felt a little odd, so approximately 10 minutes in, we decided to just head back to the cars ourselves.
We hopped back onto the Red trail, and followed it around. This trail was marked for wheel chair accessibility, so we figured it would be pretty easy to follow it to the cars. At one point we yelled for Grandma and she answered, so we figured that was a good sign. We were on the same path, and not far behind her.
We ended up on a narrow path, that definitely would not fit a wheel chair. Things didn’t look familiar anymore. We reached a fork in the path, with a sign that read EXIT. From where we were standing, the path veered to the left at a sharp angle, and continued on the right straight from the path we were on. The EXIT arrow appeared to be pointing to the right, so we took that path. Once we hit a bridge that we had never seen before, we pulled up the map again. So deceiving. We continued to walk on this path, pretty sure it was the EXIT. When we started to climb UP again, I decided to pull out the GPS on my phone. Thank goodness for technology. We were headed AWAY from the cars.
Now don’t get me wrong here. I know how to read a map. I spent a whole summer studying maps and compass work in the military. I love mapping. The “map” that was at the beginning of the trail looked pretty simple to follow. HOWEVER, this area of Short Hills had so many side trail paths, and nothing was marked clearly. Unless you hike this part of the trail regularily, it was a very confusing trail.
SO, after seeing on the GPS where we were, we turned around and hiked back to the cars WITH the GPS on the phone showing us exactly where we were at every step. At this point we were starting to pray that Grandma had made it back to the cars on the correct path. She wasn’t responding when we called anymore, so we hoped that was because we had gone the wrong way, and she was relaxing at the car waiting for us.
All this time, the children had no clue that we had actually gotten lost. They just kept catching bugs, and eating blackberries. We arrived at the cars with a breath of relief until – NO GRANDMA !!! Grandma was lost in Short Hills! Once again technology prevailed. Grandma had her cell phone on her, so we called her. (Also glad there was service in this area of bush!) She said she was at the top of a hill overlooking a beautiful field. Hmmm. We saw no fields on our hike. She said that she had seen the EXIT sign – the same one we saw – and followed it to the right, just as we had done. Only she had walked a lot further than we had. We told her to turn around and start walking back, and we were going to hike out to meet her.
I really think this was the most exercise I had had in a long while. We hiked back out to the EXIT marker, and from there I took the GPS and jogged out until I found Grandma. WOW … Grandma can hike. She had booted it out so far that at one point I had to call her on her cell phone again, just to verify that what I was jogging past (fields, barn, etc) was what she had already walked past. Confirmation recieved, I kept jogging. Eventually she heard me yelling for her and was able to yell back.
We found Grandma. Hip Hip Ho-ray!
We walked at a slower pace (so I could catch my breath) and caught back up with the kids and the other mom. Still using the GPS on my phone, we made it back to the cars. We threw a blanket on the ground and pulled out lots of food for lunch. And relaxed.
I look forward to seeing what the kids put in their journals for this hike. Will they recall that we lost Grandma? Or just that they caught frogs, grasshoppers, snails, and ate lots of blackberries? We will see at the end of the summer.
Cheers and Happy hiking !