Sole or Soul? Lost in the Woods

Deep and DarkI called my husband,”Help! I’m lost in the woods.”

They say history repeats itself, abet with a different players. You see, twelve years ago, my husband got a 5 AM call from our youngest son, the morning after his senior prom all night party (I was sensibly still sleeping).

“Help!” he whined. “I’m lost.”

“What?” my husband asked astonished, “You were at the all-night-party.”

“Ohhh.” he moaned. “Everybody was asleep and I was bored and I thought it would be cool to take a walk in the State forest. Now I don’t know where I am, and I’m being eaten alive. Ahhh! Mosquitoes.”

My husband chuckled, “What do you want me to do? Drive around the forest at 5 in the morning honking my horn?”

“No.” he replied sadly. “I just thought you were the only one I knew who would be up at this hour…”

My story isn’t near as good as that. But that was the story that inspired my retirement hobby. In days past, I repeatedly went into the state forest with the goal of getting lost. I usually succeeded.

It ended with what I first thought was a very minor nuisance. I woke up one morning, feeling like there was a nail in my heel. I kept making my husband look for a splinter. It kept me from my walks for a couple of days, and got better. Until I walked again.

Reluctantly I consulted Dr. Google and he came up with a clear name for my problem: plantar fasciitis. Unfortunately his subsequent advice, as to its cause and cure, was a bit more convoluted.

The problem, Google opined, was inflammation. You must ice it and take pain pills. No, no, there’s no inflammation involved, it’s tissue death, due to tight shoes. You need to use toe stretchers, and go barefoot. No. Whatever you do, don’t go barefoot!

Finally I went to see a doctor. The podiatrist told me that the fascia loses its stretchiness with age, and that I had high arches. He gave me a shot, a prescription for Nsaids, an orthopedic sole, and a night splint. With that, I got better, but not enough better to hike without heel pain. Needless to say, this put a major cramp in my retirement plans.

What eventually helped was advice from a sister-in-law and a visit to “The Walking Company.”

“Get Dansko shoes, orthopedic soles, and wear nothing else for a year.” she told me. (Pro Tip – Ask the sister-in-law first.)

At this point, It hasn’t been quite a year, but the other day, I declared myself semi-cured, and got up off the couch.

“I’m going to the Wrentham State Forest!” I declared.

“Um honey, you haven’t been in the Wrentham forest since we hiked it about 15 years ago.”

“I’ll be fine!”

It wasn’t my plan to get lost. I just wanted to explore someplace new.

I did have trouble finding the parking lot. But then, there was a large map, which I examined closely, as well as a small box with maps. I grabbed one and headed out. And, after a couple of turns, I opened it. My ‘map’ turned out to be a brochure that listed rules and regulations, and advised me not to drive an ATV if I was intoxicated.

“That’s all right.” I said to myself. After all, I thought, the trail curves around! So as long as I keep following the yellow marks, I should end up back at the parking lot. And I could always back-track. So I continued on, going forward through another couple of turns.

No, I soon realized. After the first few turns, back-tracking was no longer an option.

At least the mosquitoes don’t like me. I thought. As long as I don’t stop.

After about 3/4 of an hour I remembered that I had vowed to only take a half-hour hike. A light-bulb went off, and I turned on the map application on my iPhone.

Yes! It told me that I was in the middle of no-where. And several mosquitoes landed on me while I paused to look at it.

It was time for desperate measures…I called my husband. “Help! I’m lost in the woods!”

“What do you want me to do?” he laughed. “Ride around and honk?”

Actually he didn’t say that. Instead, he gave me a lot of “helpful” advice.

“Where’s the sun?” he asked, muttering stuff about east, west, north and south.

“Ah? In the sky?”

Then he suggested that I look at Mapquest every few minutes to see if I was getting closer to the parking lot. (Been there, done that.) He named several apps that I should have downloaded before I started my hike. He reported happily that he had texted the children, and that they were laughing.

“Opps. I think my phone’s dying.”

Anyway, I am writing to tell the tale. The good thing about our local forests is that at some point, if you follow any path long enough, you will end up on a road. And I was lucky to end up on one close enough to my car to avoid the further humiliation of calling my husband to please come pick me up and drive me to my car.

But, in the end, I wasn’t planning on a 2 hour hike. And I don’t know yet if my soles escaped damage.

But, lord oh lord, being lost in the wood was exactly the prescription I needed for my soul.

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