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Disaster, and Pastries

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I tried to go for a hike. It did not go well.

The little creeks and rivers are swollen with rain and water right now. With the spring thaw, weather can conditions can be unpredictable. I am discovering that spring is really the most challenging season for hiking in this area.

So, my intent was to go to Sperryville and hike the Catlett Mountain loop. I’d hiked part of this before when I’d done the Nicholson Hollow trail, back in the autumn.

There are two stream crossings immediately upon hitting the start of the trail. The stepping stones had water lapping around and in a couple of places over them. I figured it wasn’t too difficult to manage, and unhooked my dog to make the crossing.

As I went across, I slipped and pitched over. As I did, my thermos took a swan dive out of my backpack’s side pocket and dove into the creek, never to be seen again. I scrambled across and recovered myself, looking forlornly after it. I sighed, and decided to push on. I had another bottle of water.

Then I saw the next creek, the larger Hazel River. In this case the water was definitely lapping over the stepping stones too much. I decided this was time to not be stupid, it was time to turn around.

So I had another crossing. This time, I slipped and fell again, cracking my shin hard. What was even worse was my poor dog slipped also and fell into the creek, flipping over and then gaining his feet and standing in the middle of the water. He seemed to be in a bit of a panic, and he refused to move, clinging as hard as he could to the riverbed.

I scrambled the rest of the way to the other side, and quickly set my pack and my walking stick down, and took my jacket off. I was cold and a bit wet, but I had to get Varro out of the water, and soon, he was starting to shiver.

I walked out on the rocks, and tried to grab him, with little success. I had to wade into the river and drag him out, and he is not a tiny dog or anything, being an English Springer Spaniel.

So I got him to the bank, and shrugged my jacket and my pack back on, and we left to go back to the parking area. I saw a few hikers headed out, and warned them about the trail. Most of them were headed up to Old Rag though, so they didn’t have any worries.

I got in my car and headed home. I was soaked to the hips, and bummed out. My dog was soaking and wet, but the heat was drying us both out. I decided a quick stop was in order on the way back.

So when I hit Warrenton, I pulled into the wonderful Red Truck Bakery. They’ve been written about in far more reputable publications than my little blog (like the New York Times and Esquire,) but I do have to say that their baked goods are delicious, and very affordable. I still have yet to try one of their sandwiches, but their croissants are marvelous. I grabbed an apple one (only $2.50) and munched on it on my way back to the car, noticing I had scraped knuckles and a slightly bleeding hand. Hopefully I didn’t look too horrifying when I was in the bake shop!

Once I got home, I realised something terrible. In my haste to get back to my car, I had left my hiking stick behind. This was the final straw for me for the day, and the tide of shock and anger and fear washed over me, and I cried for a bit. I know that things are replaceable, but it had been a gift, and I felt stupid for leaving it behind. I thought about getting in the car and  going back, but it was an hour an a half drive back, I was low on gas, and still soaking wet. Plus, with the amount of hikers already heading up the trail, there were few guarantees that someone hadn’t already walked off with it.

So, I put an ad on Craigslist, hoping someone runs across it and will see the ad. I have my doubts, though. I should have had my name on it.

I still have a bruise on my knee and a chain of additional bruises down my shin, and I will have to learn to be more cautious with the unpredictable weather. I will go back, though!

My grandmother always told me, the times I fell off a horse, that I had to get back on or it would always hold me back.


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