When I lived in Virginia, the wonders of the outdoors were right at my finger tips. If I wanted to take a trip down Scenic Skyline Drive, it was just a 40 minute drive. If I wanted to spend the day hiking in the Shenandoah Valley, I could be there in an instant.
Now, back in northern New Jersey, I have swapped forests and mountains for concrete jungles and disgruntled drivers, and I have to say, it's been pretty disappointing.
But in an attempt to occupy myself and trick myself into believing I'm still in Virginia, I made my way up to Harriman State Park (the second largest state park in New York, about 40 minutes from my house) with plans to spend most of my day completing a nice, relaxing, eight-mile hike.
The first seven or so miles were great! I saw some baby deer, crossed a few streams, navigated a few rock scrambles. It was no Shenendoah, but it was pretty damn close. In fact, I was enjoying myself so much that I neglected to stringently follow the directions I printed out.
But I wasn't worried! I had skimmed them beforehand and I knew the general trails I was to follow and the general direction I needed to go in. "Me man," me thought, "me have good sense of direction!".
And after a few hours and about seven miles of walking, I finally saw a way out of the deep woods. "Wow," I thought, "I did this without really using directions. I am quite the nature man." I stepped out of the woods into what I thought (and what was supposed to be) the opposite end of the parking lot I had parked in.
Except I wasn't in a parking lot, I was in somebody's backyard.
I kept walking until I got to the road, and there was no parking lot in sight. To my right there was a group of kids playing in a small lake, cozily nestled directly on the side of a busy highway. To my left there were a bunch of nice houses.
I took out my phone and checked my location. As I had initially thought, I definitely wasn't in Harriman State Park anymore. I was in a residential neighborhood in Stony Point, NY, on the complete opposite side of Harriman, and about five miles from where I parked my car.
Somewhere between the entering the forest, crossing over the Palisades Parkway, and making my way out of the woods, I had made a wrong turn. Rather than walking north to south and back north, I had walked east to west straight across the forest.
And after a fruitless attempt bushwhack through the forest to get back to the Palisades Parkway, I had to swallow my pride. I exited the forest, sat down on the side of the road, and did the manliest thing I could think of.
I called my mom and asked her to pick me up.
Nature is awesome!