But, then it "sorta leveled off" again and we thought - this isn't too bad. Except the "this" went onward and upward relentlessly 10 solid miles. Okay maybe it was only about 1.5 miles, but it felt like about 100 miles - so I'm rounding down. All I knew was that at one point, my heart was beating so loudly in my chest that I couldn't even hear nature. Unless you consider that reaching that physical stress point where the sound of your aorta rupturing is considered a pleasant sound of nature. In that case, I was hearing nature. Loud and CLEAR.
We stopped to catch our breath a couple of times and had a few sips of water. At this point, we realized that we were unprepared. 1 bottle of water for 5 people walking straight uphill to "see the ocean view" above 300 foot redwoods = unprepared.
So, now all we have to do is loop back down to the visitors center, right? Remember the little etched line? Remember the little loop? 1.5 hours and we were going to get lunch. Yummy. Not so fast there Tonto. Sometimes life doesn't work out in the little etched loop. Or so I've heard said.
I decided to confer with real hikers with a big official map. We discuss. We decide to follow them. They say "THIS IS THE WAY" back to Muir Woods visitors center. In hindsight, these people were sent up from the underworld to lead us astray. This is where things went from bad to worse. This is where the Made for TV movie starts to get interesting. No food left. 1/2 bottle of water and we start down what is marked as the Ocean View Trail - but later we realize is the "Redwood Trail". Please refer to map. Please note we are heading in the WAY WRONG direction. We have just been seriously denied "the loop." Damn Daddy.
We trudge along. More silently than before. The jovial nature of our quick hike has turned to I-am-hot-and-i-want-some-lunch mantra. And for Pete's Sake!! MORE UPHILL? Aren't we supposed to be going down? And where is the blasted Ocean View?????
We finally connect with the Sun Trail. We didn't mean to connect with the Sun Trail. We wanted to connect with the Visitor's Center!! The Sun Trail could be described as permanently moving out of the moist calm and cool chewy center of the redwood forest and biting in to the hard hot dusty pit of misery. You are walking on a path about 16 inches wide cut through the impossibly steep incline of a big tall mountain where some where 100s of feet below you is the unobtainable visitors center where water runs like - well, - - water! Also, one errant foot hold and you were taking that Princess Bride roll down the steep steep slope yelling "As You Wish!!!!"
Remember that we have no map. We only know that we are on a trail that leads somewhere. We are starting to blame each other in that half-kidding-but-really-serious-way-that-families-do - - - who's idea was this little hike anyway??? We're Hungry! This is All. Your. Fault. When finally we saw a sign for The Dipsea Trail replete with pointing arrow and with Muir Woods Visitor's Center as a subtitle. We were optimistic - but guarded. We had recently spent a good portion of the day following a trail that said "Ocean View" where we saw nothing but trees and more trees (an ocean of trees, perhaps??) We likely would have been more guarded had we known at the time that we were not actually on the Ocean View Trail. At this juncture we remained naive to exactly how lost we truly were. That was a good thing.
The good news, since I am here to write this entry, is that eventually we did find our way to the entry of the Dipsea Trail. We made it back to the parking lot. We drank a great deal of water. We actually high-fived each other like we'd been lost in the woods for days with little more than a pack of Mentos and our keen wits. In reality it was 4:30 pm. We'd been hiking for about 3 hours. Time stretches when you have no friggin clue where you are. Really, it does. It just stretches right ooooouuuutttt.