I went hiking alone in Haliburton Forest one fine spring afternoon. I lived under the cookhouse as an intern. I told my roomate that I would be back by a certain time, and the general direction I would be heading.
I was planning to head for an hour or two northwest and see a general section of the forest that I was unfamiliar with. When I reached my time, I would follow the logging trails in a general southeast direction back toward Basecamp. Eventually I would run into one of the major logging roads.
The logging trails proved more difficult to follow than the roads. It was difficult to keep a bearing while deep in the woods.
I wasn’t lost, but I wasn’t sure of the way forward. Was I heading to Basecamp or getting farther from it?
I could retrace my steps backward, but that would be 3 or 4 more hours of hiking and I would be late for sure. So I thought it better to keep going forward, whichever way that was. As the evening drew nearer, I felt that my place was too slow and that made me begin to feel desperate.
I felt my confidence slipping away with every step. It was harder to think clearly and I felt anxious, the forest seemed unfriendly. I prayed as I walked and I pressed on.
And then it all changed when I saw a beautiful old snag (standing dead tree).
A great wave of relief washed over me. It all made sense now. I had been here. I had seen that same tree a month or two ago. I knew exactly where I was and the shortest way back. Basecamp was only a couple kilometers away. I would be home within the hour!
That one solid point of reference changed my entire perspective. It helped me make sense of the environment around me.