The first day of the hike we covered a little over 14 miles, reaching two summits that were 4500 to 5200 feet. We were in a group of 26 hikers, some of whom had hiked 50-mile treks before, while others had only been on five- or seven-mile day hikes. We were in the latter group.
As the day wore on, we started breaking up into smaller groups. My little group was bringing up the rear. After our last rest stop, we were to get instructions from another scoutmaster in the group as to where our camp would be that night. There were other groups on the trail, so if we ran into trouble, we knew where help would be.
We passed our first two reference points on the trail so we knew we were following the directions properly. Then we came upon another trail. I remembered something being said about this trail, but I couldn't remember whether we were to take it or not. With about two-and-a-half hours of daylight remaining, I made the decision to take off down the trail.
As we walked, I noticed that the trail didn't look worn, which should have been my first clue that something was wrong. We had gone about a mile and a half when we came to a creek. I then realized we must have taken a wrong turn, but without a map I wasn't sure (the guide in charge of our group was holding the map).
At this point I became concerned. It was getting dark, and we were down to a half-liter of water for the three of us. We made a plan to go to the trail intersection where we had made the wrong turn and camp out there for the night once it turned dark. If we weren't in camp, I knew they would come looking for us, so the best place for us would be at the cross trail.
As we were going back up the mountain, I started blowing my whistle, hoping someone would hear it.
All of a sudden the wind started blowing to the west. Because wind comes over mountain peaks in what is known as thermals, it was odd to get that much wind where we were on the trail. Nevertheless, I felt compelled to follow it. We turned around, walked back to where the trails intersected, turned left and headed west.
We found our camp only 200 yards down the trail just as darkness was setting in.
Luckily, our guide, who had backtracked over six miles and back to search for us, arrived safely back at the camp as well.
The more I thought about this experience, the more I realized this was not just about getting lost in the woods. I know I sometimes take God for granted and fail to realize He's always with us. I had been feeling separated from God for some time. As I've gotten older I have strayed from Him and haven't been as spiritual as I once was.
I've realized sometimes you have to get lost in order to find what is really important in life. On that day, I learned God speaks to us in different ways. And on that particular day, he guided me with the wind. He helped me to stay calm, and I realized that I was never really lost. God just needed to get me aside and tell me something--that He is everywhere and there when we need Him the most. God was on the mountain that day, and I found Him again.