It was a lovely day and I had a few hours before I had to go in to work so my thoughts turned to the great outdoors and the Sugarloaf Loop in particular. Its a fifteen minute drive from my house so I like to have plenty of time in hand to walk the woods there.
There is a roughly hewn canal cutting through, a relic from years past and an attempt at development that today would be banned by all the agencies under the sun. Back then if you wanted a canal you dug it through the living rock if necessary.
The development may not have happened around the Sugarloaf Loop but the canal does connect a few houses to the sea and boats do run the fast currents here:
Odd to imagine a suburban subdivision lining the water. Mind you that's the case for thousands of homes built on canals blasted the length of these islands to make way for development. I live in one such house myself.
I was not expecting to find myself sucking my rubber Crocs through a giant puddle of the most viscous soft slippery goo left behind by high tides and rain. Had I not been struggling to keep up with my happy dog I might have enjoyed the sensation between my toes.
I paused to clean my feet in the canal and took off after Rusty who was waiting for me. I have to say hubris is a terrible thing but if the ancient Greeks were discussing human pride (and not thinking much of it) then you know arrogance has been in our make up for a very long time. So you will understand when I tell you I was shocked and annoyed to see a trail break out among the bushes where I had never previously noticed a trail. Well, I thought I had better check it out. I have to admit to that it was on my mind that this "short cut" might clip a chunk off the walk on this increasingly warm afternoon.
Naturally when the trail expired a few hundred yards in hubris took over again and I figured it would not be far to the paved road, the road that loops through the failed subdivision...It was a ridiculous position to be in - again- blundering through thorns and poisonwood and heaps of rotting leaves and tangled downed saplings and so on and so forth. I did this a few weeks ago in spectacular fashion and here I was again. Once a fool always a fool. Rusty was having fun without me. He appeared briefly and took off again as though the impedimenta of forest was nowhere to be encountered. I expect 18 inches off the ground, where he operates, its a different world. Up here five feet above the ground the place looked impenetrable.
I did get a bit exasperated at myself as the Rider Haggard scenario played itself out. Soon I was bleeding from scratches on both arms and both legs, death by a thousand cuts I told myself grimly as I gave up the struggle to mop up the oozing blood. Unlike my previous foray off the beaten track near the KOA when I got lost and ignored my phone, this time I whipped out my iPhone immediately and started checking the map. What I did last time was veer too far, going parallel to the road and ended up blundering extra distance in the brush. This time I was determined to push straight at the paved road without deviation so I kept an eagle eye on my electronic tracker.
The maze went on and on. And on. I felt like a total half wit and I was reduced to bargaining with a higher power whose existence seems less and less likely the more misery I see in the world. I put myself here so it is no credit to me that I'd have been happy to be helicoptered out of the woods, handed a long cold quinine flavored drink and told to sit back while my car was detailed for me prior to my arrival at the parking lot. I imagine there are a fair few Syrians might feel the same way with infinite more justification than me in my self induced predicament.
B-b-b-b-ut you can see clearly on the map that there should be a path here- it has a name and everything. I never did find Sikes Lane but one day maybe I will come back to look.
I lurched out onto the Loop Road and got walking. I knew exactly where Rusty was as he would be waiting for me on he way back to the car. That's what he does on the rare occasions when we get separated. I met some youngsters on the bridge and they looked at me as though I was the monster from the swamp, bleeding from numerous cuts on arms and legs, clothes looking like they had been dragged though a hedge backwards (they had) and my hair plastered on my head like the dome of a yeti... "Small brown dog..?" I croaked through parched lips. A young woman gathered her wits and pointed down the road as her companions continued to gawp. Then she jumped off the bridge perhaps in an effort to get away. I staggered on.
There he was a neat trim brown triangle sitting on the trail happy as a clam and impatiently waiting for me to catch up. Then he set off trotting along, tail held high, ready for me to catch up.