Going down the side of the mountain may seem like a foolproof shortcut.
We had been hiking a fairly gentle mountain trail, enjoying the scenery, the company, and the general pleasantness of it all. After some time, the consensus was reached that, in everyone's best interest, it was time to head back.
As the unofficial leader of our expotition (those of you unacquainted with Pooh terminology, forgive me), I brought forth a brilliant, efficient plan for getting back to camp.
Start here, walk straight down, and camp will be somewhere at the bottom.
Simple and effective.
Why bother following the long, winding trail back the way we had come?
And so, with little objection from the weary party (ha!), our plan of action was decided.
My way put us getting there a lot faster, and with a lot less energy spent.
Or it was supposed to, anyways.
It ended up costing about the same amount of time, and a lot more energy.
Worry is more wearying than hiking up hills and around bends. :P
For one, there was some brush that was harder to deal with than I thought it would be.
Another thing - I seem to be directionally challenged. I thought I knew approximately what direction we should go in. Don't ask why I was so confident. I have no idea. But a couple minutes into the journey back, and we were all completely clueless.
"Uh, Caitlin, are you sure you know where we're going?"
"Oh. Maybe this wasn't such a good idea."
"Um... yeah. That's what I was thinking."
"Anybody see the trail?"
"Hey, I think that's the tree we saw earlier!"
"No, I think I've seen 3 trees like that."
It's just a little unnerving to be leading a group of your friends around the side of a mountain, none of you having any idea where you are.
Fortunately, it was a very smallish sort of mountain, and we finally did stumble onto part of the path we had been on earlier, thus following it back to the beginning.
And now I know.
There are times for straying off the beaten course.
Tramping the woods on an unfamiliar mountain is not one of those times.