Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Of Getting Lost

Yesterday I got lost in the woods. I mean really really lost: totally disoriented, middle-of-the-day sun overhead and so no bearing on cardinal directions, going probably in meandering circles up ridges and down valleys, tromping through heavy undergrowth, dense expanses of ferns up to my thighs, over a bog whose entire mass jiggled underfoot, through raspberry patches and groves of balsam poplars...trying to find an elusive logging road that finally appeared right in front of me after wandering along a winding ridge-line for a mile or so.

What was supposed to be a relatively short walk in the woods to a somewhat remote glacial 'kettle' lake turned into a four-hour excursion that entailed a lot of displacement and uncanny feelings of total isolation amid the old growth deciduous forests. The tiniest details—the maiden hair fern rachis, a splotch of slime mold on a downed birch tree, drosera carnivorous plants around stunted cedar tree bases, the texture of leatherwood bark—took on incredible thing-ness in the dark and circular woods.

The weird thing is that when I got home and charted where I had been on Google Earth, the area looked so small and easily navigable. Yet while aerial perspective and satellite imaging can certainly zoom in and out impressively and cover a lot of ground, it is very difficult to map or otherwise render the scale of getting lost.