Last week, in an attempt to get out of the house during this age of social-distancing, my parents and I went on a hike (making sure to distance ourselves from any other hikers by six feet). We were all set, with hiking sticks, books, goat-cheese sandwiches, and a blow-up inflatable caricature of a brown bear to ward off any predatory animals we may come across. We had been hiking for two minutes when I realized one alarming fact: my parents were three times my age and faster than me, with an alarming amount of stamina. Who knows how I, a “healthy” eighteen-year-old, could be more out of shape than an obese sloth… it’s truly mind-boggling. 

Despite my slowness, we hiked along, keeping on the trail by following the occasional red blazes and trees that were spray-painted with interesting messages like “HELP!” and “Beware!” and “Go home!”. I finished my water bottle in the first ten minutes, so for the rest of the hike I just keep my mouth wide open in hopes to catch a stray drop of rain. 

Eventually we stopped for lunch at a clearing with two sitting logs. I sat down on the log that my Dad would later nickname “Tick Log”, and my Mom pulled out the food. We ate happily, reading instead of talking, as our bookworm family likes to do. Well, okay, I read for ten minutes, and then walked around trying to find a bar of service on my cell phone. You get the picture.

After a while we packed up and hit the trail again. For the next half-mile I noticed a definite absence of the red-blazes that had been leading our way on the trail. I was concerned, but not yet alarmed. Not alarmed until my dad remarked, “Hey, where’d the trail go?” I looked at my feet, saw we’d be walking on leaves and branches and no trail, and let out a high-pitched scream. In the next few moments, my family each embraced their “stressful situation response”. My dad began to mime pulling out a map, then licked his finger and held it up, attempting to catch wind. He finished out the act by leaning down to the dirt below us and picking some of it up, sniffing it, then letting it fall dramatically out of his hand. My mother pulled out her book and began to stress-read, skimming the pages in less than seconds. I alternated between screaming and panting. 

After a good hour of this routine, my parents and I finally pulled ourselves together and made a plan. We decided to walk downhill, until we reached water or road. After putting this plan into action and walking downhill, we found ourselves on our red-blazed trail once again in about three seconds. Sighing in relief, we laughed and cried the whole incident off, and began our hike back to the car. My parents reached the car about an hour before me, but they were happy to wait and relax in the car. I followed the red blazes and “Congrats-you made it out alive!” signs back to the car. I was starting to think that maybe those signs weren’t a joke. All in all, our best hike yet.We didn’t even need to use the blow-up inflatable caricature of a brown bear.

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