Lost in the Woods

November 8, 2016
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My mind races while I try to comprehend the entirety of my ordeal, as I am dodging and weaving through twigs, trying to keep up with my father. I can no longer tell if he is thinking the same thing I am. When we had began the ride I knew we were thinking the same thing, but now, this may no longer be true. Our five minute ride to wrap up our day slowly creeps to the thirty minute mark, then an hour has gone by. My dad finally starts to slow down. I could not see him, but I could hear the rpm’s of a 2 stroke engine ahead starting to get lower and rest at idle. I do the same. I slow down and start to downshift into 1st as I slow to a dead stop in front of my dad, who has is backpack unzipped and looking at a colored map that seemed to have some water damage in it’s old age. As I set down my helmet I down I could feel the heat of my Honda 150 motor radiating off the fins of the cylinder head. I used to love the sounds and beauty of being up north when I was little and I still do as I sat there and  I looked up and stopped to listen to the beautiful sounds of the Northern Michigan wilderness, the trees were moving slowly and all you could here was the wind against the leaves. My dad jokingly says “I think it’s been a little longer than 5 minutes.” I knew that it has been more than an hour and we were definitely lost. My dad’s confidence gave me hope as he told me that we would just go back the way we came and follow our tracks. I agreed, as this seemed like a good idea, and we got on our bikes and with a few kicks we were off again.

Although I was somewhat nervous because we had no idea where we were, I still could not help to enjoy the riding experience we were having. The trails in the outskirts of South Branch, Michigan, were some of the best in the state. I have even heard some people say it is some of the best in the midwest. This is because of the terrain, topography and complete isolation. The most you may see up here is an old natural gas pump or logging camp. As we were riding back my dad was holding a steady pace as we rushed through the trees. We rode and rode for an hour. We came to multiple trail intersections where my dad would simply look both ways and pick a direction on the spot. This was starting to scare me. I knew he had no idea where we were. We were completely lost. No phone signal for miles, and even if we got one, my uncle, cousin and brother wouldn't be able to answer because there was no signal at the trailhead. The riding was getting quite difficult and technical. The sand was wet. It felt like my front tire was plowing through wet cement. I was going to fast. I lost control of the bike and the handlebars broke free of my fingers and the bike threw me over them. I landed on the ground hard on my head and my bike landed somewhere off the trail.

I could hear the sound of my dad’s bike in the distance slowly getting quieter and quieter. I was completely alone. I was so scared of losing my dad and not going to see my family. He was the only one keeping me hopeful. I knew if I lost him I would lose it. “What am I gonna do?”, I asked myself I got up and picked up my bike and started kicking it over and over again. It wouldn't start. I grew tired as I kept kicking and kicking it. I stopped, let it sit so it won’t flood, then kicked it again and it came back to life. I took off looking for my dad. I was worried I wouldn’t be able to find him, but as I came down the hill I saw him with his bike leaning on a tree. I stopped and turned off my bike. His bike was out of gas. I couldn’t believe that had happened because it never has happened before. Now I know that you should always make sure you have gas before you go riding no matter what. Luckily we were at a marked ORV route. These were trails that big trucks and side by sides rode on. They were completely sand. We read a sign that said ORV trailhead so we went in the direction it was pointed. My dad was driving my small Honda 150 as I rode on the back. We had to leave his bike behind. We rode and rode and finally made it to a small parking lot in the middle of nowhere. There was no one there. Only a map on a large sign. The “you are here” arrow pointed at a spot in the middle of the forest, almost 45 miles away from where we think we started.

We start to head back the way we came from. The terrain was technical and difficult. It was hard for my dad on a bike that small to be guiding us through countless obstacles with another person on the back. As we were riding through the forest under the shady canopy of the pine trees I saw a pair of headlights on the trail up ahead. I could barely make out the figure of a man riding a four- wheeler. I got excited because this is the only person we had seen all day. We slowed down and got his attention he stopped and my dad started asking him questions. He told us that the trail head we were looking for was a mile away and we had probably been going in circles around it for a while now.

When we entered through the clearing at the trailhead and I saw my uncle Todd, cousin Brent, and my brother Evan, I finally felt a sigh of relief. The only person I had to thank was my dad because he taught me never to panic or give up in a situation like when we were lost dirt biking up north. Whenever you are in fear of not going to be able to see your family, or losing someone you must have hope and never panic or give up.

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