We could have died out there!

It was shortly after I said to Deb, “We should have brought a compass,” that I began to wonder who would eat whom.

Logically, it made sense that I would cannibalize my wife because, seriously, look at me. There’s no meat on these bones, hardly any sustenance whatsoever. I’m the watercress of human flesh. I would prolong her life by two days, three at best, and then we would both be dead, so really, what would be the point? It would make much more sense for me to eat my wife. Not that I’m in any way implying she’s a KFC Double Down…

It’s this kind of thinking that gets you nowhere – not with your marriage and not lost in the woods either.

And by “lost,” I mean “slightly disoriented in several acres of wooded area within the boundaries of our small town next to the snowmobile trail.”

But wait. Like Deb and I ended up doing, let me back up…

In an “if you can’t beat em, join em” mood during last weekend’s snowfall, Deb and I decided to go snowshoeing through the woods. It was my first chance to use the snowshoes my daughter bought me at an end-of-season sale. (Ha-ha! “End-of-season”… rich!)

We bundled up as light snow fell and headed down to the bike trail, quickly veering off into the woods, and by “woods” I mean “someone’s back yard.” At first we walked along an existing track but soon we broke our own trail in uncharted territory, and by “uncharted territory” I mean just north of the sewage plant.

This was my first time on snowshoes, so I’m not clear on the terminology, but we either mushed, shooshed, ploofed or snarfed around the woods for about an hour before finding ourselves at the snowmobile trail. We walked down the trail for a ways and then saw footsteps going off into the woods to our left. “Want to try this?” I asked Deb. “Sure,” she said.

Oh, how we would rue those words…

Not really. Calm down. It wasn’t that dramatic. But let’s continue…

Some time later, we passed the gravel pit and then we hit the snowmobile trail again. Wait a sec. If we had been walking straight through the woods, away from the snowmobile trail, how were we back at the snowmobile trail? And even though the gravel pit was right there, we couldn’t tell which side of the pit we were on. The safe thing to do would be to stay on the snowmobile trail. But which way? One way would take us home. The other way would take us to – gasp! – Beebe!

There was a third option. “I think it’s this way,” I said, and we headed further into the woods.

Soon our path came to a dead end.

It was then that I mentioned the wisdom of a compass and my thoughts first ran to cannibalism.

I knew we weren’t in any real danger, but still I could feel the delicate tendrils of panic tickling my stomach. Or maybe that was just the way my long johns were riding. Regardless, I could see how easily a person could get turned around in the woods. I mean real woods.

A few years ago, I read how a blindfolded person who tries to walk a straight line will, without visual clues, start to veer off in one direction or the other. Eventually the person will come full circle, and, if he walks long enough, in ever tighter circles.

I tried this experiment one winter in the big snowy field behind our house. I closed my eyes at one corner of the lot and began walking towards the opposite corner. I stopped when I walked into a tree.

But, sure enough, when I looked back at my path in the snow, what I thought was a straight line curved distinctly to the right.

So even though we were in a wooded area about the size of a down-scale amusement park, not knowing where we were, with no sense of direction, no cell phone, I knew this was a recipe for panic and circular walking. Soon night would fall, and there were animals in these woods. Deer, to be precise. But death by deer nibbles, that’s no way to go.

But here’s the nice thing about snowshoes: they leave footprints. Or shooshprints. “I think we should backtrack,” I said. So we did. Plus, I was starting to get hungry and, well, you know…

Considering the carefree spirit in which we had set off into the woods, I have to admit that backtracking felt like a defeat. But as the saying goes, better defeated than eated.


About rossmurray1

I'm Canadian so I pronounce it "Aboot." No, I don't! I don't know any Canadian who says "aboot." Damnable lies! But I do know this Canadian is all about humour (with a U) and satire. Come by. I don't bite, or as we Canadians say, "beet."
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52 Responses to We could have died out there!

  1. Karen says:

    Love the post. But don’t your cell phones work up there in the Great White North (I have three different navigation apps that came preinstalled on my phone)? Which leads me to another thought, “My God, what did we do before cell phones?” I’m guessing we all got lost in the woods.

    • rossmurray1 says:

      Neither of us owns a cell phone. I should probably have pointed that out.

      • pinklightsabre says:

        You can get a whistle like, to blow. Or bear bells like, to jingle. But seriously, I’ve gotten turned round so many times in places that seem they should be so obvious not to get lost, and it’s really confounding. Especially say, after you’ve climbed a mountain and really want to get home and you wind up tacking on an additional mile and half an hour or whatever because you took the wrong loop, amid the snowmobilers etc. I just packed up all our snowshoes today. Didn’t take them out once, this year. No snow in our parts.

        • rossmurray1 says:

          Rub it in, why don’t you.
          Actually, I love winter, and I enjoy getting out in it. But it’s been cold and long.
          Of course I’m being ridiculous in this piece, but lost is lost and a small danger is still a danger. Most of my risks, though, come down to whether I should really press “send” on that email.

  2. Paul says:

    Whew, that was scary to read – the sweat is popping out on my forehead. Such a deep, dark, unknown forest between the sewage plant and the skidoo trail. There could have been anything in there Ross – bears, cougars (you should be safe with your wife though -cougars go for younger, single men), yeti (the French ones are the worst ), Bonhomme (you’re a bit far from Quebec City, but you never know), cub scouts on bivouac , separatists, the list is endless. You are so lucky that you got out without an incident. That should be a lesson Ross to take a compass when wandering the wilds of Quebec – especially inside city limits. Oh, and you should put on a bit of weight so if it happens again your wife has something more solid to munch on – should worse come to worse. You’ll never be a double down but you could at least be one of those new McDonalds CBO’s – spicy with onions and hickory smoked bacon. More like a snack than a meal, but still enough to sustain her until she is found and rescued by the cub scout troop.

  3. Ned's Blog says:

    If you end up visiting here in the Northwest, you can forget about me taking you hiking.

  4. vsvevg says:

    Good think it didn’t occur to your wife that watercress is a superfood. Glad your both safe 🙂

  5. ksbeth says:

    can’t believe you didn’t end up in the states. border patrol might have been tough on you though.

  6. Ha Ha! Yup – end of season. Last week we had +20, this week we had snow. Gotta love it. 🙂

  7. My husband and I decided to go out for an evening stroll when visiting Harrogate, England many years ago (pre-cell phones). We got lost in a suburban area where every street and house looked the same and there were no businesses. Two hours later, when we found our way back to the hotel, we were barely speaking to each other. Thank goodness I had some old airline peanuts in my backpack or only one of us would have returned.

  8. I can only imagine the joy you got at being able to tag this post with cannibalism. You might reach a whole new demographic. Glad you survived.

  9. Who do you think you are? Jeremiah Johnson? And what makes you so sure you weren’t in any real danger? People drown in two feet of water, you know. This is why I think camping is stupid. A weak wifi signal is my idea of roughing it. I never want to be any further than 20 yards away from plumbing at any time.

    You’re lucky it wasn’t snowing. You’d still be out there. And I’m pretty sure your wife would overpower you and whittle a toothpick out of your femur.

  10. I once got lost while walking across the lava fields in Hawaii. Because bringing a flashlight to walk around a dangerous, unfamiliar place after dark is for wusses.

  11. markbialczak says:

    And you got home, safe and sound, and threw J. Geils Band’s “Must Have Got Lost” on the turntable because you only own albums … Get a cell phone, Ross. Please. For just this reason, my friend. Emergencies.

  12. javaj240 says:

    You may want to invest in one of those “burner” phones — you know, the kind used by spies (and drug dealers) — the next time you go shooshing. Although, I must admit that I don’t have a lot of faith in those things. I mean, come on, they sell them at convenience stores for crying out loud!, how reliable could they be? Apparently though, if you watch any television at all, they are all the rage among spies, drug dealers, and international gun runners. They might work for a couple of snowshoers trying to avoid cannibalism. 🙂

    Great story — as usual.

    • rossmurray1 says:

      Living right next to the U.S. border, I would probably get super-dinged with roaming charges on one of those things. (One of the many quirks of border living.)
      And thanks.

  13. J Scott Waugh says:

    Great read!!!!!

  14. Of course having a compass is really only valuable if one knows how to operate a compass (other than just knowing the needle will point north)! But glad you survived! Funny post! KFC double down… LOL!

    • rossmurray1 says:

      One of the perks of living on the border (see “roaming charges” in other comment) is that you always have that latitude right there as a base. For example, my back right now is towards downtown, which means I’m facing north. The lyrics of REM’s “Stand” don’t apply around here.

  15. Paging Donner, party of 8…

    Oh Rosemary – don’t eat yer wife in one sitting. You have to go limb by limb; else they spoil quickly. The trick is to keep them alive! ALIVE, I TELL YOU! Nom! Nom! Nom!

    And of course, you need to watch this most excellent film by Trey Parker –

    Cannibal! The Musical ~

    It’s a spidoinkle day! Once you watch it – you’ll get it.

  16. Kylie says:

    Maybe you should’ve started out your trek blind-folded in the first place!

  17. cat9984 says:

    First thing I noticed about this post – while others are talking about the arrival of spring, you are getting lost in a winter wonderland (so to speak). You really should consider moving. (I assume by now, spring has arrived even there.)

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