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The Hike That Turned Perilous

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Soft trees grace the path
Delicate beauty of Earth
Lost without a trace



The sun was shining through the massive trees, causing freckles of sunshine to spot the trail. I furiously snapped picture after picture of the gentle lake as my sister and cousin led the way on our expedition. We did not realize that as we gazed at the beauty of the trail and stomped our Nikes into the soft earth that we were becoming more and more lost, and that my parents were becoming more frantic by the second.

It was the 4th of July, a holiday for grilling hot dogs, basking in the sun, swimming and fireworks. My family decided to spend our time at Mill Creek park, spending time together eating good food. We rode the paddleboats, racing, laughing and smiling, and ate our hot dogs, which seemed like the most delicious thing in the world. There is no such thing as perfection, but the day felt pretty close. All of this would plummet to one of the scariest moments of my life. My twelve year old sister, hat baseball hat covering her glasses, shielding the world from her awkward stage, suggested that we take a hike. So my cousin, my sister and I begged and pleaded my parents to let us go alone, without them chaperoning. They finally gave in to our whining, but with the condition that we stayed right on the bridge beginning the trail, so they could see us. I think we were running to the trail too fast to hear the last bit of warning.

I was only ten years old, so naturally, my thirteen year old cousin and sister led the way. My cousin, the oldest, with her choppy brown hair and freckled nose, navigated. Sporting a blue flowered hat, camera ready in hand, I felt like a nature expert, taking pictures of the lake, the trees, the ground even. We stumbled along the trail, giggling about our previous night's sleepover and simply being children. Amidst all this giggling we forgot to heed my parents' advice. We started becoming unfamiliar with where we were. However, my big sister assured me that we were fine and we pressed onward. Huge tree stumps seemingly from centuries ago lined the pathway as I tripped and stumbled to keep up with my leaders. My knees became scraped and my hands became scratched as we dove deeper into the unknown territory.

Soon, we began to get the feeling that we should try to find our way back to our camp site. The laughing and fun gradually morphed into worried looks and remarks. At every tree branch snap or animal noise, we quickly jerked our heads around, watching for anything that could potentially put an end to our short lives. Our pace picked up as
we ventured further and further into the woods, which at this time seemed like an endless abyss. The beauty of the wilderness slowly began changing shape in my perspective, turning into a vast world of danger. Warm tears flooded my face as they seeped over my wounds, gnawing at my inner hopes of ever finding our way back. My sister tried to be as brave as a twelve year old could, but even my naive eyes could see that she was frightened. My cousin completely gave up hope and looked at the reality of our situation; one immense woods, three lost souls. Then, as if someone heard our silent cries for help, we heard muffled yelling.

The yelling grew louder and louder, and soon I discovered that it was my parents, using all of the air in their lungs so we could hear them. As soon as they spotted us, their worried looks turned to happiness and relief. Unfortunately, these warm and good feelings only lasted for brief seconds. My father is not a big guy, but his voice booms with intensity as if he has a megaphone constantly attached to his mouth. My mother clutched her chest, accusing us of her miniature heart attack episode. Both of my parents scorned our behavior, this lasting the whole mile that we walked into the trail.

We were oblivious to reality while we were hiking, and it resulted in turning a festive holiday into a search party. We all laugh about this experience now, only because
it taught us that everything in life isn't what it seems. Even the most beautiful of places, a wooded, gentle trail, can bring the most terror.





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