Ann and I spent three wonderful days down at the Live Oak Lodge at X-Bar Ranch. We had the place literally to ourselves. No hunters yet, and no other guests. So we spent most of the time eating, sleeping or watching birds. However, on Tuesday we decided to take a little walk.
When we had checked in on Monday, Christy and Stan Meador, our hosts were pointing out different things to do. Christy mentioned the various trails that would be open, as there were no hunters around. During that conversation I thought I had heard the words “green trail’ and “six tenths mile”.
So, when Ann mentioned that a walk would be fun, I interjected that the Green Trail would be great because it was only .6 tenths of a mile. Heck, we have a little route around our neighborhood that we figure is a mile, and we handle that with ease. This would be a piece of cake, right?? Not!!
We set off at approximately 10:45AM. We had light jackets because it was a little cool and windy. I had a camera slung over my shoulder. Ann had binoculars. We carried no water, because, heck, it was only six tenths of a mile., right? We had drank up before we left, though.
We got to walking along, me taking the occasional snapshot along the way. The trail was well marked. No way could we get lost, so were just enjoying the day. The trail is pretty rugged in places. Hilly, not real steep, but rocky in most places, as it follows some water runoff areas or washes.
After about thirty minutes, I thought we should be very close to the end of the trail, because this trail was only six tenths of a mile, right? Well we kept walking and were starting to get a little worn. I am 76 years old, just recently recovered from a back fracture, and Ann is 72, so I began to think that maybe we unknowingly bit off more that we could handle. Any time now we expected to see the cabins. We walked more. No cabins in sight. We were both starting to really get concerned. We were getting warm as the temperature started to climb, and had shed our jackets. Also we were getting very thirsty. After about an hour or maybe a little more, we knew something was very wrong. We knew we were on the trail, as it was marked and easily to follow. We also knew by then that it was longer that we originally thought, but how much longer, we had no idea.
Finally, we got a glimpse of something in the distance. I borrowed Ann’s binoculars and discovered that the cabins were still about a mile or more away. We were stunned, and wondered how could this be. We knew even if it was a mile, that the trail wouldn’t be in a straight line. There were too many switch-backs in the hilly trails. I tried to sit down on a rock to rest a minute while we were trying to decide whether we should try to call someone on our cell phone. We decided that no one could reach us very fast, even if we found someone to contact.
So we hugged each other a bit, prayed to the Man upstairs and decided there was only one way out, and that was just to go ahead, one step at a time. I knew that if I sat down again, I wouldn’t be able to get back up. There were very few places to sit, anyway. Only an occasional rock. By then I was using the only walking stick we had, plus a piece of tree branch that we had picked up. Ann was making it without any aid, though with difficulty. How she done it, I will never know. In places, we were literally leaning on each other. Plus we were chastising ourselves for being so foolish.
Northern Cardinal - female
After what seemed forever, actually about two hours and a half, we finally made it to the last gate. It was similar but not exactly like a cattle guard. For me, just getting across that was a struggle. But make it, we did. Thankfully, we sat down on a chair by the patio. I found that God looks after fools and drunks……….. and we were sober.
Afterwords, we found trail maps in the lodge. There are four trails a person can take. The shortest is a mile and a half. We DID NOT take that one.
We got a valuable lesson that day. Do not attempt such an undertaking unless you are absolutely sure of the facts, then go prepared. In retrospect, we also should have let someone know where we were going. But, what’s done is done. On Wednesday, we didn’t leave the lodge. We just sat on the patio and watched and photographed birds. I needed to use the walking stick anyway, because I pulled a muscle in my hip during our hike. But I am feeling great again. No more hiking again for awhile, thank you very much.
By the way, Ann did not want me to tell this story. She thought it would make us look stupid. Maybe or maybe not. After all, we just misunderstood what was said and did not get confirmation.
By the way, the length of the Green Trail is three miles……….
Happy birding! 🙂