On Thursday Cathy and I decided to take our kids out to see the Big Tree: the biggest three in Alabama. It lies at the heart of Bankhead forest a mere nine mile hike. HA! We decided that the attitude would be one of wandering into the woods on a PERFECT day and if we made it to the tree, great, and if we didn't, still great!
This was the point at which Cathy and I realized that we were lost. Now people get lost in Bankhead ALL the time; so often that it doesn't even make the news. We knew we had come to the end of a trail, but our trail wasn't supposed to end. So we back tracked. After about half a mile we found a place where the trail crossed the river. Ah ha! Back on track! Or so we thought. Soon the trail started to treck up the mountain. Steeply. This was still not our trail. Luckily we had enough sense to bring extra water, snacks and a MAP. I pointed to place WAY off course that could be us. Do we keep following this trail or go back to the beginning and start again? We figured that we had accidentally followed the "expert" trail over the mountain to the big tree, but we didn't know how far we had come and far was left. With the younger ones starting to catch on that we might be lost, we stopped at this fall and then headed back for the day.
THIS is the turn we missed. Only a quarter of a mile in. The marker was on the OTHER side of the river. Sigh. When we got back we checked and we had indeed taking four kids on the challenging trail AND had come within half a mile of the tree. We are hoping to go back and make it the entire way next time... with a GPS.