I am a very energetic person. I do yoga three to four times a week and I love to run, especially outdoors. A couple of friends told me about a trail run that was not too far from where I live in Central Fl, and they said “it was so beautiful, the whole 7 miles. You’ll love it”. So I conjured up a group to share the beautiful outdoors with. Some fellow runners came, some non-runners came, and my boyfriend Erik came. Erik runs at home, but never really through forest, in groups, or on trails. It was his first time. Phil was our dandy trail guide. There were many colors to follow and very easy to confuse people trails with animal trails. Phil was our trusted guide and we had no worries, until, the group started to separate.
The non-runners were tired after about 3 miles. Myself and a few others being fast runners scoffed at the idea of slowing down. We wanted to stay pumped and finish the trail in good time. Plus we were loving the scenery and feeling great. Phil gave me directions to the rest of the trail and I felt confident in getting my break-off fast runner group there without a problem, until, Erik got tired. He knew he was running too hard the whole time. I kept telling him to slow down or burn out, but it was too late. He was spent. With no water, and low on energy Erik convinced me that we were close enough and he could make it alone or catch up with the slow guys. I agreed.
So us fast runners, me and one other guy, arrived to the finish, which is also a spring, and went for a swim in the pristine waters, it was a hot afternoon. Then we waited and waited and waited, until the slow runners showed up and Erik wasn’t there. I gasped. I knew Erik had gotten lost. I waited at first and then began to worry intensely. I retraced the trail backwards for about three miles and still… no Erik. I am about to give up. I go back to the spring and meet up with the group again.
Phil the guide says, “It’s getting dark, and this trail can go on for 20 more miles. Bad news is, if we ask for help, well, we weren’t supposed to be there. It was illegal. Remember how we jumped over the fence at the end? Yes, we illegally ran from one state park to another and that’s not allowed.” “Great” I say, and I begin to cry. This is a true horror story. My Erik, My love, the one I want to have children with is lost in the woods by himself! Wait I say! The gate, I forgot to tell him to jump the gate! So, me and another friend decide to go back one more time to the gate and try to find him again. It has been 45 minutes and I’m getting antsy.
EEEEEERRRRRIIIIIIIKKKKKK!!!!!!!! I scream over and over again, and then, a whistle! I hear a whistle! “Do you hear that?” I asked my friend. “Hear what?” she says. “That! A whistle. It’s him.” As I continue to scream his name, he continues to whistle. Suddenly, I turn a corner on the trail and I can’t believe it, there he is. I thought I lost him forever.
I planted my face into his chest and cried. “I’m so sorry, I forgot to tell you to jump the gate.” “You did!” he said intently. Later Erik admits that he really was scared that he would be sleeping over night in the woods, with the Florida bears, under a tree.
What was supposed to be a weekend of fun outdoors, with exercise and a yummy organic, vegetarian, picnic afterwards, turned into a trailer for a movie about someone’s tragic fate. This movie ended happily, but it could have been very different. If there is anything to learn from this story it is that: a group that doesn’t know the trail should stay a group, and at least get lost together.