Left for Dead in Hixon Forest

     We interrupt your normal blogcasting to inform you that I, and my travel companion, nearly died in the woods last night.  I’ll explain.

To the left, is the map of the main trails in Hixon Forest, which surrounds the beautiful bluffs and Mississippi River in the city of La Crosse, Wisconsin.  The map is color coded.  The green trail=easy, yellow=medium, and red=hard.  My boyfriend is pointing out the nice yellow trail that follows along the river.  The record must state that I said I wanted a bluffside view.  So, we took the squiggly red line.

The squiggly red line was called the TNT Trail, and apparently, its for mountain bikers.  We hiked it on foot.

If you ignore the foolish expression of fun on my face, you are wise.  I however was not so wise.  Our journey began safely enough.  You can see the trail initially was clear, wide, and for the most part, smooth.

Oh, and that canteen in my hand, it’s full of red wine.  Because if you’re going to start hiking up a cliff in the middle of the woods at 7:30 at night, you may as well get a little tipsy doing it.

     The further along we got, the trail started to incline much more.  Fueled by our love and a nice cabernet, we continued hiking.

We even found a cool looking cave thing!

And I climbed part of it!  See, still smiling!  Hiking is so much fun!

Now we get to the turning point in our adventure.  You see, we reached the end of the TNT trail.  We made it to the top.  Unfortunately folks, this was a bum climax to our hike.  The trail end took us to the city limits, we pretty much ended up in a cul de sac.  And, no lookout point from the bluffs, we were in a field surrounded by trees.  At this point, I I started kicking stuff and screaming “Where’s my rewarding view?  I wanted a cliffside view!  All I can see is someone’s driveway!  What a rip!”  So, the currently optimistic boyfriend, and I, started our trek back down the trail.  The thing about trails is there’s usually a couple places where you have to choose which trail to stick with.  We could go back the way we came.  Or we could try an adventure and take a different trail!  You’ll notice in the photograph, the trail is becoming much less easy to identify.

We climbed up something that looked like this.

And we got a view that looked like this!

And this!

And this!

It's amazing there's proof of us smiling at all on this trip.

I don’t know if you can tell by how dark the photos are becoming, but the sun was setting.  And the record must state that my boyfriend didn’t want to climb up this cliff.  I was the one who thought we had plenty of time, and wanted to see the city from the top of the bluff.  A bluff, I should define for those who are unfamiliar, is basically a small mountain.  On our journey back down another new trail, we came across several hitches.

Are trails supposed to look like this?  Hmm, guess the city hasn’t cleared them all since the rain and the flooding and paths being washed out and all.  *shrug*

This is where the photography stops, team.  From here on out, survival became more important.  At one point, my boyfriend said, “It’s a good thing you brought your purse.  Now if we get all 127 hours out here, I can cut your arm off for you.”  I was not amused.

The trail we were on got REALLY steep.  To the point where I was crab walking down the side of it, trying to add a little extra traction.  My boyfriend actually fell down the hill and into a tree, scraping his leg badly.  It was growing darker and darker.

I really thought we were ok.  A little sore, needed to move faster, sure, but I thought we were ok.  Then, the trail just stopped.  One minute we were on a dirt path, the next it turns into some kind of raveen covered in broken logs and limbs and leaves.  And this was all about the same time the sun vanished!

Things were said.  Things that came from my boyfriend that sounded a lot like, “I’m not happy.”  And “I don’t like this.”

I hoped he would be the leader.  Nope.  I’d pushed him beyond his limits.  It became very clear that I was going to have to figure a way out.  With no idea where the car was from where we were, and since we had no flashlight and it was really dark, the plan became to head toward what little light showed through the trees on a far side and get to the highway where we could follow the road back to our car.  However, that route led us to a giant rock wall.

The second route we took led to my boyfriend falling for the second time.  Only it wasn’t a slide fall, it was a climbing over a tree trunk, grabbing onto a tree branch, and having it snap beneath you so you face plant into the ground covered in debris.  When his breath returned, and I finished apologizing, we tried another route.

Finally, after a half hour of deep, meaningful prayer, my boyfriend said, “Is that our car?”

I started clapping and running towards it.  We didn’t talk on the drive home.  We didn’t talk when I started up a warm shower and got the Neosporin out.  We didn’t talk while my boyfriend got a shot glass and a large bottle of gin from the kitchen.

But hey, we’re alive!  And I did get us out eventually!  Here’s hoping he’ll laugh about it tomorrow.

What’s the most exciting thing that happened to you this weekend?

44 responses

  1. What an adventure, Jess…I will say that I’m not jealous of your excursion into the wild unknown. 🙂 My hubby is not quite as enthusiastic about outdoorsy stuff. He calls himself, “The Great Indoorsman.” LOL

    My weekend was blissful. I went to the pre-judging for a local bodybuilding show on Saturday morning. Then, I spent some quality time with the hubby and cuddled for the evening. Sunday was my personal cooking fest for the week’s meals.

    Happy Monday!

    1. Oooh, cooking fest! Let me know if you need a taste tester! My near death encounter has really turned me on to desserts.

  2. Deborah the Closet Monster | Reply

    Many of those pictures made me laugh, FWIW, even if the feeling of being lost had me panicked . . . despite knowing there was a happy ending, else this post would never have reached my eyes!

    1. At least two of us are laughing. Wish it was also the one I live with. hehe

  3. Nothing quite that exciting happened in my weekend! Adventure is fun, at least for those that survive. You survived to have fun another day! Blessings…

    1. Nothing some antiseptic and gin and tonics wouldn’t cure.

  4. I’m passionate about hiking, and fortunately, there are lots of great trails around here that end in rewarding, scenic vistas. Most of them are still buried in snow this year, unfortunately, but I hope to get out there soon.

    The fact that you brought a canteen filled with red wine? Well, that’s just genius. 😉

    1. It was genius, until we dropped half of it cascading down a steep hill into tree trunks. 😀

  5. And this is why you’ll always find me in a hotel. A nice one. 😉

    1. Where’s your sense of adventure?!

  6. Yep, that’s scary… been there, done that. It’s amazing how fast you can get into situations like that too. Glad you got out okay and didn’t panic. I have a feeling you won’t be hiking for awhile, huh?

    1. Not on that trail, no way!!!

  7. I’m glad you guys made it out alive, Jess…your boyfriend is very cute, by the way!

    Some day I will post my piece on “the hiking trail from hell” I was on 9 years ago…I will preface it by saying I didn’t have the benefit of knowing the difficulty rating before we started on it…


    1. I already feel for you. Deeply.

  8. Oh gosh! What an adventure. Did you get lost?

    1. Lost would be an understatement.

  9. If it isn’t an adventure it isn’t really hiking.

    That said, I think your travel methods might be more frightening than the Bat Man, lol. Very glad you both survived it, there is a shortage of talented minds in the world and it would truly be a shame to lose yours. *hint* find a brochure map of the trails, just in case 🙂

    Peaceful Journeys! (hopefully)

    1. LOL! So my future career as a tour guide is in jeopardy you say?

      1. Perhaps so, but your chances for a Wilderness Survival show are definitely improving 🙂

  10. This is the kind of story that gets told over and over again. Glad you guys made it back to the car (and home) safely. Keep your sense of adventure alive and thriving! (Just make sure you have a map or compass with you.) ~ Lenore

    1. You mean cabernet sauvignon isn’t a good substitute directional? Huh, now you tell me!

  11. Ack! What an adventure! That’s kinda why I don’t go hiking though. 😀

    1. You’re welcome to come with me anytime! I highly doubt my boyfriend will again, so I’m in the market for a new travel companion! 😀

  12. Andrew Bishop | Reply

    Classic “When trail’s go bad” tale, Jess. It’s not usually much fun at the time, but at least you get to have a good story to tell! Here’s a brief account of one of my own ones: http://bushwalk.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=37&t=5620#p73926

    1. “When trails go bad” I like it. That’s pretty much what happened. One minute…path! Next minute…Compass? North Star? On Star? We have a problem.

  13. Wow, that’s intense! I am more of a climb on top of an alligator guy than a wander around in the woods type guy. Glad you made it out!

    1. We could start up a roadside show together. I’ll get them lost in the woods, and you’ll save them from the alligators. Then I’ll put Neosporin on their cuts and bite marks when it’s over. 😀

  14. The word “bluff” should have been your first clue. Never trust those forty-year-old maps.

    “I’m not happy.” Really? I think you’re holding out on us, but if that’s the worst thing he said, please credit his account with a substantial number of points. (The offer to cut off your arm probably deserves a small debit.)

    Great post, Jess. And I agree with Lenore: You’re going to tell this story a lot. It’ll be interesting to see how your account will gradually diverge from your boyfriend’s. Does he have a blog?

    1. He does NOT have a blog, thank goodness! LOL. He does get a point for only saying, “I’m not happy.” And a debit for threatening to cut off my arm. And probably a point back for not saying “I told you so.”

  15. What’s the saying: if it doesn’t kill you it’ll make a good story? Yup.

    1. I couldn’t agree more!

  16. I’m just getting around to reading this. If I were there I’d smack you upside the head. 😀

    1. Now, Madge, I did save us eventually!

  17. I was laughing so hard reading this as I too took the TNT trail to go get a great view of la crosse….um no…sweet field though….I can just imagine your boyfriends reaction…but if you are looking for a new travel companion then let me know as I love to adventure and have been making solo scouting mission there recently.

    1. I just saw four people jogging into the forest last night coming home from work. There was no sun and it was raining! I kept thinking, “What are you doing?! Turn around now!” LOL

  18. […] We still only got to the beach two times this year.  But we supplemented our outdoors time with hiking, oh that’s right, we nearly […]

  19. Took the same route down this weekend. Thankfully in the daylight, but alone and no wine. The photo of you climbing through the tree — I climbed through the same one. Trail just vanished in a carpet of crispy, crunchy, toast colored leaves. TNT truly stands for This is Not a Trail! Thanks for the smile!

    1. That acronym makes COMPLETE sense to me! No offense, but I’m glad I’m not the only one who wandered into the leafy ravine of darkness and despair. Here I thought it was my navigation skills, but no, that’s where the “trail” leads. Maybe I can take back my voting privileges, Joe currently holds 51% of the vote on which direction we head now. Maybe I can be my own swing state!

  20. […] why my boyfriend Joe gets 51% of the vote on which direction we go, it’s because of this:  Left for Dead in Hixon Forest.  Let the record state, I got us out.  Besides, his mom gave us a travel wine cooler, two […]

  21. […] Sometimes the best vacations are right in your own neck of the woods.  I’m fortunate to live in a city that is bordered by bluffs and the Mississippi.  Never fails to set me right again after a long walk through the bluffs.  That is if you don’t do this. […]

  22. […] hung around The Happiness Project for awhile know I like my wine on the go.  I’ll just say wine hiking is not for the faint of the heart, and do so at your own risk.  Since then, another great gift from my honey’s mom was this […]

  23. […] the first time we got lost in Hixon? Read all about […]

  24. […] husband and I decided to go hiking. This usually doesn’t end well for us as you’ll see here and […]

  25. […] know, I know, we all know how THAT goes. One of us ends up […]

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