Saturday, October 16, 2010

Lost and Found

A couple of weekends ago I decided to go for a trail run on the community pasture trails south of the Dundurn military area. I got to know this area quite well when I used it for one of the Prairie Pitch adventure races, but that was a few years ago.

Just after I started I ran into two cowboys on horses. They grilled me thoroughly on why I was there, what I was doing, had I talked to the pasture manager, etc. As far as I know I wasn't doing anything wrong being there, and they didn't say any different, but they sure seemed suspicious. I'm not sure what nefarious activity they imagined a guy in shorts and a t-shirt would be up to. Once they got over their suspicion they questioned me repeatedly as to whether I'd seen any of the cows they were trying to round up. (I hadn't.)

It was a beautiful fall day and I had a nice long slow run. I haven't been running very long distances lately so I broke it up with walking part of the time.

If I had stuck to the trails I probably would have been ok, but of course I had to go exploring cross country. I had only planned to go for an hour or two, but I hadn't worn a watch. I hadn't even brought any water, just my little camera and my Spot. Eventually I decided I'd better turn around and head back. I'd gone out generally west, and came back generally east. But I wasn't too sure how far north or south I'd come. I came to an area I thought I was to the north of where I'd parked, so I headed south.

But I couldn't find the trail out to the highway. I could hear the traffic, but there was a thick area of trees blocking the way. I decided it couldn't be very far and I'd just bushwhack out to the road. After 10 minutes of thrashing around in stinging nettles in shorts I decided maybe that wasn't the best plan after all.

Eventually I found a trail that got me out to the highway. But I realized I had another problem. I didn't know whether the car was north or south of me. I couldn't see it in either direction. I guessed north and went about a kilometer down the road. No sign of the car. I went back a kilometer and then went about a kilometer south. No car, and the road looked unfamiliar. I decided it must be north, just farther. The car turned out to be about 4 km north of where I hit the highway. So I did an extra 8 km of jogging up and down the highway, on top of multiple hours of running off and on before then.

At least I had a half liter of water in the car to guzzle down - I was pretty thirsty by then. I figured I'd probably gone about 25 or 30 km. It was about 7 pm when I finally got home. Shelley was starting to wonder what the heck had happened to me since I'd left about 1 pm saying I was going for a run.

It was a good reminder that finding your way, especially across prairie with few landmarks, is not trivial, and shouldn't be taken for granted. A compass would have been handy. A watch would have helped to know when to turn around. I could have taken my GPS and gone straight back to the car, but I'm not sorry I didn't - it would have spoiled the adventure!

1 comment:

  1. Ha, Ha. Such a casual attitude out here in the Kootenay Valley could land you in more bushwhacking than you'd want. I think it's hard to get "lost" - you generally know where you are, but how, exactly, to get where you want.... Always a fun time (mostly, anyway!).