Lost In The Dark Danville Bogs: I'm Not Dead Yet

Sue and I had a date for a 6pm BBQ at The Academy this evening. I got home first at 3:30 and had a few hours to kill. At 4pm Spanky and I headed into the dark swamps of Danville with the intent of hunting down some sections that I was confident I'd never explored before. It was great - I found some major crazy zones. The balsam was so thick that the perfume of the spring growth hung intoxicating and heavy in the still air. In the deep parts of The Zone the organic matter underfoot included rotted logs and stumps and tangles of blowdown that were immersed in a thick stew of who-knows-how-many-years of accumulated material. The surface was covered in thick moss and lichens so you couldn't tell what would cause you to sink in deep and what would hold you above the muck. In some hollowed stumps I could see down into black water about 3 inches below my feet. The water was flowing, meaning I was in dark, deep, green forested bog. The lady slippers have started blooming, along with cowslips, bunchberry, trillium and more.

We climbed through branches and worked our way for what seemed like hours. I wanted to be back home by 5:30 to shower and change for the party. At 5pm, while climbing through a black-mucky stream I realized that I had to hurry and find my way out ASAP. We picked up the pace and I was dripping sweat. for 25 minutes we bushwacked through unfamiliar forested swamp. I found a new beaver dam in the forest (I had to crawl through dense branches to find it - I could hear the sound of water in the spillway and followed the noise - a huge, complex forested dam - and I even saw a beaver). I was in brand new territory but was pretty confident I had a reasonable chance of finding a familiar landmark within a few minutes. Then I found one: the black-mucky stream that I had crossed earlier, in fact the very spot where I had crossed before.

No shit.

25 minutes had elapsed and I had completely circled. Here's the worst part: I knew that if I continued on again I would have to do something different to not circle, except what I did the last time turned into a circle because I was following what seemed like a smart route. So I did the only thing I could do: continue on in a stupid direction. I was so lost it seemed highly likely that I would be unable to actually come out anywhere recognizable because there was no way to make a beeline and I was clearly following a stupid route. I actually considered the possibility that it could take hours or days - in an area less that 4 square miles! Well, we headed into the hardest bushwack I've ever done. I can't even describe the ordeal. This place is dark and mysterious.

In 20 minutes I was on a known deer trail that I'd run before and in another 10 was home. 30 minutes from home and I could've died out there, lost and wandering in circles in the dark.

That was the best time I've had in a while. I'm still all psyched. We got to the bbq by 6:15.

If anybody ever wants to check this terrain out I can have you in and out of this crazy place in under two hours. We'll be lost, but we'll get out eventually... I have so far.

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