This happened a few years ago. I had planned a hike in/hike out camping trip with my ex. The plan was to park the car, hike 23 miles, camp in a reserved shelter, hike 23 miles back to the car, and drive home. (First mistake). The most I had ever hiked in one day was 13 miles so stupidly I thought I could almost double that and then do it again the next day.

After purchasing all the necessary supplies and planning this out, the day had finally arrived. We drove about 45 minutes and parked in a gravel lot at the southern tip of the Kettle Morraine State Forest – Northern Unit in Wisconsin. The Ice Age Trail which travels across the state is also located through the entire forest.

7:00 AM and we were off. It was a wonderful hike albeit extremely buggy. It’s been about 5 hours and as we hit our 11th mile we start to doubt our ability to be able to repeat this tomorrow. At this point we’re also out of water. (Second mistake, sort of). There is water available but only at certain spots along the trail, none of which we were close to. After consulting my map (tip: always have a map of any unfamiliar areas), we decided to turn around and walk on the roads back to the car.

As we’re walking I develop a limp in my right leg. Since I’m woefully unprepared for this hike, my knee decided to stop working and my shoulders were so tired from carrying my pack even with the hip support. I imagine I looked pretty weird walking down the road limping half sideways and wearing the backpack on my chest. After about 8 miles we arrived at a mountain bike trailhead I had been to before and filled up our water.

Another few miles and I get a call from my mom. Apparently there is a severe thunderstorm warning for the adjacent county. I figure that it will miss us because we are in a different county. (Third mistake). Boy was I wrong. I’ve never seen clouds look so dark and in case you’re wondering, severe thunderstorms are pretty scary if you’re outside with no shelter. I didn’t have a water proof jacket or umbrella with me either. (Fourth mistake).

I kept saying that one day we’ll look back at this and laugh. After soaking in the rain for a bit a man in a truck pulls up next to us and offers us a ride. (possible beginning to a horror movie right here). We were about a mile away from the car. It turns out he was very nice and dropped us off around 7:00 PM. After a few hours of resting in the car while it poured, my stubbornness regained its consciousness. Once it slowed to a drizzle I pulled out my sleeping gear and started looking for a spot in the trees to sleep since the nearest shelter was over a mile away. I figured I payed for a shelter and hell or high water I will not end up spending the night in the car. Once I finally set up, I get in and manage to go to bed.

Unfortunately, it got colder than I was expecting and I didn’t have proper clothing (Fifth mistake) and I woke up around midnight. I went back to the car and that was that. The next morning we drove back home just in time to tell my parents that I was in fact in way over my head with this. The moral of this story is that preparation is key. There’s a bit of Murphy’s Law here but a bad experience always makes for a good story and it just makes you’re good experiences even better!