|Yes, I know it's dry under the bridge...but someone spent a lot of time and effort building it...and it was fun...|
We stuck pretty close together for the first 6 miles. After we stopped for lunch and discussed where we thought we would stop for the night, we began each hiking at our own pace. The two fastest hikers were quickly out of my view. I passed the third hiker and was within view of her for awhile until she stepped off the trail to find a bush. I kept going and sort of zoned out, alone and content with my own thoughts...until I looked up and realized there were no blazes on the trees.
What would Bear Grylls do? But I don't want to take off my pants and bite the head off of a snake. Guess I'll turn around and go back the way I came.
I think I was off the trail for close to half a mile. That put me far behind the others. I was trying to increase my pace to catch up with them, but eventually gave up on that. I wanted a break. I wanted to stop and adjust my pack but I was getting tired and was afraid I wouldn't be able to put it back on myself. Then I came upon a bridge that was high enough off the ground to be a convenient little ledge I could use to make it easier, so I took my break. I adjusted my pack, had a snack, and pulled out my cell phone to check the time. 4:30. Sunset was supposed to be around 6:15. I decided I would keep going until 5:30 and if I still hadn't caught up, I would stop where I was for the night.
I positioned my backpack so the shoulder straps would be directly behind me, sat on the edge of the bridge in front of it, slipped my arms in, then stood up. Hooray! I managed to get it back on. 35 pounds is awful heavy when you're getting tired. Fortunately, once you get your pack adjusted correctly it's not too difficult to carry.
I continued on until I found the mile marker where we had agreed to stop. I looked around and still didn't see my friends. It still wasn't 5:30, so I stuck to my plan and kept going. About 10 minutes later, I heard a very happy voice calling my name. They had tried to call my cell phone but I didn't have a signal. They became a little concerned when the woman I passed made it to camp before I did.
I was never scared because I had food and water, I did have my tent, and there were people who knew I wasn't where I was supposed to be. They would have walked the trails a little and notified the authorities if they didn't locate me. I was annoyed, though, because I really didn't want to camp alone that night. I was very happy when I finally caught up.
Could I have made the news? Probably not. What a boring story that would have been. "We found her in her tent warm, dry, and fed." Nobody would watch a survival show about that...