CUSTER, SD…. THE BAD PART
The hike started out beautifully. As we walked around the lake path we veered off to get on the Sunday Gulch path, the 2.8 mile strenuous hike I told my mom we’d be back from in “an hour or so”. It was beautiful with a path down of rocks, logs over water to cross,a lush forest of old trees whose roots we used for traction down. Now, I was thinking… “This is a deep walk down, how am I going to get back up?”, but the pure enjoyment of my city kids crossing streams and enjoying nature (not a screen), pushed me forward. I have to give Brooks a SHOUT OUT… when Bess was scared to cross wet rocks or climb down steep rocks, he always encouraged her and helped her. It was so amazing and affirming that I’m not totally screwing them up.
About 30 mins in, we passed some people who were coming from the other end of this loop hike… and they looked like they were DYING. They were at 3.6 miles (remember this hike was supposed to be 2.8?) and begged me to tell them how much further.
WARNING...WARNING...WARNING….my common sense side of my brain screamed at me (as did my calf muscles) So, I told the kids just a bit further, because by the look of the man who just passed… I wasn’t gonna survive the whole loop. As well as the fact that it could take us another 2 hours and Nana will be scared senseless!!! So, we went on and on, following the stream to a promised waterfall.
The happy excitement of my kids clouded my judgement, as did the skies… That’s right, a storm was approaching!!! MD was getting anxious and I was like,”It’s ok.. it’s just a little clouds!”
About 5 mins later, the sky opened up and it started to rain, then the thunder and lightning started. MD started panicking first…then it all unraveled. As the kids and I raced back UP the way we came (remember, continuing on was another 2 hrs), the rain got worse… then the HAIL started.
I shit you not…. I am 45 mins deep into a forested gully with three kids and I need to get them out uninjured. Remember...it’s straight up, crossing streams on logs and over river rocks and even though they had these great guide rails in the really tough steep areas… they were made of METAL!!! Perfect thing to hold onto in a lightning storm!
So, the kids are racing up and I’m trying, but I was struggling to keep my breath and climb as fast as possible. You know when you want to panic, scream and just sit down… it wasn’t an option for this mom. Unfortunately, my boys panicked so bad, that Brooks raced ahead and Miles was screaming for him and trying to catch up to him. All the time I’m screaming “STOP, we have to stay together”. No luck, they disappeared and except for the panic screams of MD I could sometimes hear, I had to pray they would make it safely to the top. Scariest thing ever, but I couldn’t go to the dark thoughts, but believe that God would keep them safe.
Bess on the other hand, stuck by me and kept it together. When I’d have to slow down and catch my breath, she would turn back, even when I told her to keep going, and say, “I’m not gonna leave you!”. When she was scared to cross flowing water, I was helped her to cross it ankle deep in the water. The rain was so heavy we could barely see, but we held hands, helped each other and prayed the boys were safe.
At this point, the water is rushing down towards us so heavily, that it was like climbing a waterfall. The lightning was striking and every time Bess reached for a guardrail is cringed, but there was no way up without them. At one point I saw the flower Brooks had picked for Nana laying on a wet step and I had to push the thoughts that he dropped it in a fall away.
FINALLY Bess and I saw the tail head sign and we raced up the stairs that lead to the nice and easy path around the lake. The water was rushing down them so hard we had to hold onto the cave walls, just to keep our footing.
Once on the path, we hauled it as fast as possible to the parking lot, praying the boys were safe and that we’d find them with Nana. Poor Nana, she was so worried and when Brooks arrived alone... then MD.. . both inconsolable...and no Jen and Bess…
Well, you can image the relief when two rain soaked ladies came around the corner…. many a “THANK YOU GOD!!!!” rang out.
Who wants to go hiking tomorrow????