We started out on a hike that was supposed to be an easy one about 1 1/2 mile ring. I was the only photographer and apparently, the only one of us three who was dressed appropriately with layers in case it were to turn cold. About 2 miles in, we began to wonder what was going on.
It was about 4PM when we started which was late in the day, late in the season, but we ventured on. The skies began to turn darker and the mileage began to add up. We had seen a lot of parked cars on our way to the hike and when we asked about the reason, they said it was ‘bear hunting season’. We were not thrilled as I am a landscape and wildlife photographer. We ended up hiking up about 2 1/2 miles (and realized that we were on a different hike than we had intended, as it was difficult and lengthy).
We finally reached the summit and the weather was rapidly changing to darkness and uncomfortably cold. We looked around for our car—to no avail. We then realized that it was not a ring hike. The clouds set in and we had no cell service. All of a sudden, a dog came bounding towards us. It was wearing a thick transmitting collar. We screamed because we were so excited to see someone else, but we scared the dog (who apparently was a hunting dog set about to find bears). It ran away and there were no humans at all.
By then, it was totally dark and the clouds were as thick as molasses. I was the only one who was dressed warmly. My two family members were panicking. My daughter roamed around and finally found a patch of land where her cell phone was able to work. She called 911 who informed us that we were evidently in between two fire districts. They had to send both up on foot as there was no other access. We could not see an inch in front of us by then, and it was cold. Finally, after about an hour, we heard someone calling to us. Our rescuers had arrived. They lead us down the mountain with flashlights (of which we had none.) They held on to us as the trail was very rough, not the easy one we had intended to hike upon, especially in pitch black. We crossed over to the bear hunting range. The fire department said they hoped that the hunters were hunting legally and not out in the dark.
We made it down and made note of the fact that we should always carry flashlights and something warm to wear AND food! After my experience, I would recommend hiking with a backpack stocked with flashlights and extra layers, and setting off early in the day on a well researched trailhead, essential for safety as well as great photo opportunities.
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Dimitri Vasileiou • Editor