• Cara Parker

Lost in the Woods of Groton

So, today, I got lost in the woods.


And I don't mean on a metaphorical Henry David Thoreau level.


I was actually lost.


It was only about ten minutes of my day, but long enough for panic to set in, and for me to imagine 1,000 scenarios where they found my frozen body.


Maggie and I headed out for her second walk of the day. My destination was the Crystal Springs Trail, but the parking lot was too muddy. So I headed back to check out Wharton Plantation, a trail that was new to me.


I got out of the car with my camera, my phone, and my dog. I had considered grabbing my backpack (always loaded with most of my essentials), but it was only going to be a 30 minute walk. So I left it behind. I sent Derek a quick text to let him know what trail I was on.


It was a lovely walk along a nice, wide, and flat trail. My first warning, though, should have been a lack of trail markers. Still, since I know have a good sense of direction, I felt confident.




We got to a point where I could cross a street and continue, or turn around and go back. We headed back. At a split, Maggie went left, which was the way we came. I decided to go right, because it would give me a chance to walk along the ridge. Maggie loved this part of the trail, because there were some good zigs and zags. I was feeling good.


Suddenly, we came across a big lake.




I wasn't supposed to be anywhere near a lake.


I pulled up the map on my phone, and didn't have a lake anywhere near this trail. I tried to pull up the map app on my phone, and it looked like I was a lot further than I thought I was.


Without a detailed map, without a map app that could get me out of there, and without the trail markings, I could suddenly imagine the news of a local teacher who went missing in the woods.


I had a light jacket. I had light gloves. I had no water. No snacks. No whistle. No emergency blanket. It was going to be me and the dog lost in those woods on a really cold night.


Once I composed myself, I looked up at the sun (which, of course, was midday), and tried to imagine which way the car was. I saw another trail which headed away from the lake. I decided to follow it.


As I walked along, I paid attention to the signs of nature. Were there things that I had noticed before? After about ten minutes of walking, I came across an area of wetlands that had a unique shape. I looked up and saw two trees that were growing towards each other in an arch form. Immediately, I knew where I was, because I had noticed that arch and had stopped to take a photo.


Heading back to the car, I realized that I was probably never in grave danger. It was midday. I could probably find my way


back. I could have called 911. But, it was also a huge reminder to myself that being prepared is still important. Nature usually wins.


Want to see a list of Hiking Essentials that I normally carry in my hiking bag? Download it here.