Wednesday, February 16, 2011


We will always say it was Seth who led us into the wilderness and couldn't get us out. Deep in the thick forest with trails less kept than we were accustomed. None of us had any business being there, and it is only laughable now that I was the one supposed adult of the group. Slater, Isaac and Seth had just finished their junior year of high school, and the biological parents of any child other than my own would have to take responsibility for allowing them to go with me as the chaperon. In her defense Seth's Mom did ask me if I was crazy. In my defense she already knew the answer.

We looked prepared, kinda. We had a waterproof map of the area, shoes of the hiking variety, framed backpacks, means to sterilize and store water and sealed bags of dried food with a way to prepare it. Adventure, I thought we needed it. I figured it would do us all good to walk into the woods, sleep in tents and sit by a campfire for three nights and four days so I scheduled it, studied it and purchased supplies for it.

Doubt? Yeah, yeah doubt would come. The inner whisper would wonder incessantly, Do you have any idea what you're doing? What if someone gets hurt and you have to go get them help? What if you then can't find them? What if you get hurt and the boys leave you there as some horror movie wild hog meal? What about snakes? What if you all get lost out there? What the hell are you doing? The only way I knew to quiet the inner voice which was at times echoed by outer voices of friends and family, primarily in the form of I wouldn't do it, was to laugh, ask Slater if he remembered first aid and watch and feel the excitement as the time drew near.

Isaac dropped his Walmart water bottle on the driveway when we were leaving. It busted, and I could have taken that as an ominous sign but as a group we laughed it off and told him the other would do just fine.

By the time we reached the final pavement, got out of the car and unpacked the trunk I had convinced myself we would live. It seemed that the boys believed it as well. I wish I had a photograph of how shiny and clean we looked that day filling up water bottles with the last drops of city water and using the only remaining bathroom built to be a bathroom.

I knew Slater and I had survived a roughing it excursion in New Mexico and the experience of a more assisted journey with those who knew their surroundings. This time it was just us, and there was a certain thrill to trying a road less travelled on our own. Plus, I felt it was important those boys be rewarded for their efforts and what boy doesn't want to wander off into the woods at times? And heck, what girl doesn't?

Yes, there was a point when one of the boys may have mentioned the instructions carved into a large wood sign with pencil and small squares of paper requesting information such as name, number of guests, duration of stay and license plate number. With all the excitement I quickly filled out the piece of paper and put it in the slot provided. Then the same boy, or maybe it was another, drew attention to the fact we needed to pay and that could be why the small square of paper was an envelope. Darn, didn't notice that so I laughed, retrieved another envelope seeing now it was an actual envelope, folded up a twenty nice and neat and wrote

I am an idiot.
I already put my information in there.
We're from Mississippi and are fixin' to walk into your beautiful wilderness.
Here's twenty bucks.
Shea Goff

In my very last request for defense I will note here that not one boy, not one of them, mentioned there had been a perforated attachment to the little white envelope meant to be removed and placed in the front windshield of the car. We shall all take responsibility for that one although I was supposed to be the adult and literate.

Sipsey Wilderness, Alabama and the last dying breath of my Nikon

To be continued...


Note to Slater: What a wonderful perspective piece this could be, like the one your Uncle Josh and I wrote about the great Beagle escape. You know you just smiled.

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