It happened again.
Joe and I went hiking in Hixon Forest and barely made it out ALIVE!
See that? That’s the end of me crab walking down an 80° incline.
Later That Day…
Jessica J. Witkins, 27, and Joseph L. Gantzer (31) were discovered dead off the trails in Hixon Forest. Their bodies had been half masticated by rabid deer. The corpses were identified from a shredded Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles backpack known to belong to Gantzer. Witkins, though allergic to the sun, suffered no marks and looked gorgeous, even without make-up on. Her grace and beauty is a loss to us all.
The couple leaves behind an imaginary dog named Ron Burgundy, some unfinished laundry, and one slice of pizza in the fridge.
Services will be held on the lookout point at the top of Bicentennial Trail for anyone who can make it there without a compass.
Ok, that’s not what happened!
But we TOTALLY got lost and had to scale the side of a bluff with loose soil for, like, EVER! And that was after walking through a teeny tiny “trail” uphill where the bugs surrounded me, and a snake slithered away, and there was long grass, and VELOCIRAPTORS!!!
Ok, I lied again, it wasn’t long grass, it was prairie grass.
Hixon Forest is described by the Myrick Hixon EcoPark as:
an 800-acre nature preserve within the city limits of La Crosse with more than 13 miles of hiking and ski trails that meander through diverse habitats, including forests, prairies, and blufflands. Connecting trails through the 1100-acre Mississippi River Marsh add more wildlife viewing possibilities. The trail system allows hikers to travel from the Mississippi River to the top of the bluffs without ever crossing a city street.
Hixon Forest is big. So big in fact, that if you are lost, no shred of society will find you, but rattlesnakes will! Good luck, hikers!
I’ve taken it upon myself to draw out our hiking journey. Please see the map below.
See where the skull and crossbones are? Funny thing that… There was a trail. A very clear, wide trail. It wasn’t on the map, but it was a big trail. We decided to take it. But that wide trail became an itty bitty trail, and one that started scratching up my legs and looking like we were going to just dirt surf our way down the bluff.
I was NOT ok with this.
For the record, I didn’t pick this trail! This time it wasn’t my faulty directions that got us there. Therefore, I’d like to have my 1% voting rights back.
The last time Joe and I got lost in Hixon, it was my fault. He took away 1% voting rights leaving me with 49%, and him at 51%. I’d like that percent back now.
An outside party wishes me to note that they “had a blast. The adventure was great!” Said other party shall remain nameless.
Oops. How did that get there?
That was my weekend! How was yours? Do any hiking I should know about?
Love and Rattlesnakes,
Miss the first time we got lost in Hixon? Read all about it!
I’m back on the northern side of the Mississippi! Amazingly, I’m alive somehow. As luck would have it the adventures of this redhead were nothing along the disappointing avenue, rather they were at times too colorful for me imagine. Before you all start conjuring up images of me in some drive-up daquiri daze on Bourbon St., let me clarify. I was not drunk.
And any pictures that do make their way into this blog post were taken post day one, which was so terrifying I didn’t take a single shot.
I’ll back up. I was in New Orleans last week. I went to visit my best friend from High School who I haven’t seen in 5 years. Exciting, right? Sorry to disappoint again, readers, this post will not be a blast from the past or a list of Top 10 Things To Do With Your Bestie. I’m going to tell you how to survive on your own for a week in New Orleans living like a kinda local.
Rule #1: Though you’ve planned this vacation months in advance, you’re friend will be working all week long. So get used to asking for directions.
Rule #2: Those preemptive extra bottles of contact solution, hand sanitizer, and 2.5 ounces of shampoo will NOT save you from the Louisiana heat wave! Or from the constant smell of sweat and piss both inside and out.
Rule #3: When your friend says he’s arranged for transportation, you might want to check the measurements and pack any necessary safety features that aren’t otherwise included. For example, my friend gave me a bike to ride, but it was too tall, and made for boys, so naturally, I fell…A LOT. I wished I had a helmet, knee pads, wrist guards, shin guards, and yes, a giant padded diaper around my ass, because I was in immense pain after day 1 and illustrated bruises I didn’t know were possible.
Rule #4: Learn how the locals eat, and react calmly. If timing isn’t your host’s forte’, you may want to snack in the kitchen or dig in immediately when the food is done and just be that person, because what my midwest manners did instead was wait until everything was ready and set out on the porch, which then consequently became COVERED in flies, and I don’t know if you’re aware but flies VOMIT every time they land. It’s true. I took science.
Rule #5: It’s not a joke when they say there are sharks in the water. When your friend tells you we’re all gonna go swimming in Lake Ponchartrain and how it’s a salt water lake that bull sharks go to breed in, don’t laugh, he’s telling the truth, though you won’t learn this until you later jokingly ask a cab driver and he confirms it.
Rule #6: Don’t mess with the police. So, if Lake Ponchartrain happens to be closed, and you have to hop a fence, trip through some thicket and steak out a hidden corner of beach to go swimming, it probably means the police will be MAD if they find you there. Especially if they find you hiding in the thicket.
Rule #7: Bike rides aren’t for wimps in New Orleans. Again with the bike, you say? How bad could it be? It was BAD, ya’ll! Several of our gang were falling off their bikes and hitting pavement hard. There were busy streets, scary potholes, and loose gravel. One member got separated from the group and was run down by a car yelling obscene comments. She walked home with her bike and a badly cut arm.
Rule #8: If in the morning you feel like crying and going IMMEDIATELY back to the airport after such a first day in a new city and you’ve slept all night on a pillow that stinks like B.O., just know you’re not alone. I’m right there with ya. And I’m here, alive, with no current police record, to tell you that New Orleans was ok. Laissez le bon tou roulez!
Stay tuned for more of my epic adventure! What have you all been up to? I missed you guys!
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.
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!
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?