After we hiked Old Rag, the most dangerous and difficult hike of the Shenandoah Valley, we got snob. “Ah, today we will hike a trail at Kettletown State Park.” Small state park with what we thought easy trails. The plan was to switch between 2 trails to make a loop back to parking lot. These trails are at the moderate level of difficulty. At the beginning, it was more like a nature walk, quite boring really. When we got to a more hill area with some rocks (basalt erratic*) on the ground, we joked “oh a little difficulty.” “Oh some rock climbing” We went on the trail as planned up to Housatonic River/ Lake Zoar. By the time, we reached the water the sun was already setting. The view was nice and Paulo took a few pictures. We went to the little private beach. It was nice to rest there. Then I said “let’s go back because when the sun goes behind that mountain it will be dark… “But we lost track of time and in the way back it was almost dark. We walked back fast, we took the Crest Trail and switched back Pomperaug trail again trying to walk as fast as possible. Then we saw an abandoned nest on a tree and Paulo noted that we had passed by it on our way in the park and it was at the same side. We were going the wrong way. Truth be told, we didn’t paid attention and we were not sure on what side the nest was when we first passed by it. We thought lets follow the trail and we will get to one end, hopefully the corrected end. By now, it was already dark; we had to put on our head flashlights to continue the trail. When we saw the water again all hopes of being on the right way were off. “Damn it! We are in the wrong side of the park.” Paulo shouted. We knew if we continue down the trail we would get to a street and it was not far from where we were. So we followed the trail in the dark and all of the sunder I fell down but I didn’t hit or hurt anything, it was more like a slide down hill. Paulo was coming back to help me and I said “I’m ok, let’s keep going.” We were almost running. The terrain wasn’t that easy but fear is a great motivator. Soon we already could see the street light. What a relive. Now we are back to civilization and the walk would be much easier on a paved road, but where are we? We tried to figure out using the trail map, but we could not be sure. The street was very secluded and we could not see any houses by the road. Down the road, we found one house and asked for help. We knocked on the door and waited. A man came to the door and Paulo explained:
“We got lost in the trail and we end up here. Are we far to the Kettletown entrance?”
“Yes, very far.” The man replied
“Could you call a cab for us?” asked Paulo
“No.” and the man paused “My wife will take you there. Merry Christmas!” he continued.
“Oh thank you! Thank you, thank you.” We both said in a relive.
Tears came out of my eyes when I thought that there are still nice people in the world.
In the way to the parking lot, Kelly, our new friend, told us that many people get lots there and that they have given rides back to the park to many many people. We couldn’t thank her enough. She dropped us off next to our car and even waited to see if we had our car key. What a good soul, God Bless her and her family.
Lesson 1: When you start a trail late like we did, think if you have enough time to finish it before dark.
Lesson 2: keep track of the time
Lesson 3: Head flashlights are life savers. It lights up your way and leaves your hands free.
Lesson 4: never diminish a trail even if it is said to be easy.
*basalt – Volcanic rock formed from the rapid cooling of basaltic larva
*Erratic – is a piece of rock that differs from the size and type of rock native to the area in which it rests. They take their name from the Latin word errare and are carried by glacial ice often over distances of hundreds of miles.
Photos by Paulo Dasilva Photography