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It’s My Fault For Being Lost…But Not For The Reason You Might Think

November 4, 2015

Did we get lost?

No. In order to “get” lost, you have to have known where you were going at some point. We started off lost.

Last weekend I was down in Goblin Valley for a campout with the young men from our church. Friday night was a massive game of capture the flag and Saturday was a hike up “Ding” and “Dang” canyons. We do this campout and hike every year. Last year was my first year to attend, but I chose to not go on the hike. This year I didn’t go on the hike either, but not by choice. 

I hate getting lost. As a lifelong boy scout and a long time scout leader, I take great pride in knowing where I am and where I’m going. I own an extensive collection of US Geological Survey maps for areas I’ve lived and camped. I own five compasses. I’ve been known to take a compass on a hike up a canyon that has one entrance and one exit. 

I like maps.

When I plan a campout I do a lot of research on the location. I buy maps and check maps. 

I didn’t plan last weekend’s campout. Before we left for the 3 hour trip south, I made sure I had directions for how to get to the park. I didn’t have a map, but I was with a group of people who knew where they were going. If I’m going to lunch with someone at a new restaurant, and they are riding with me, I don’t check a map, if they already know how to get there. 

Five of my sons were on this campout with me. My boys know my rule for Saturday morning: you pack your gear before breakfast. So, by the time the food was done, I was loaded up, packed up and ready to follow the caravan of trucks, SUVs and the occasional car from the campground to the trailhead. 

…and then…

One of the leaders gave some anti-chafing powder to one of the boys riding in my vehicle. Last summer, this boy had to drop out of a hike because his chafing was so bad. The powder was a good idea. The timing was not. The boy headed into the restroom to use the powder and all the other cars headed out of the campground to get to the trailhead. 

What would you do? I couldn’t leave the boy. I couldn’t follow the cars. Oh, and cell phones were out of the question. We were miles from the nearest cell phone bar. 

I did the only thing I could do. I waited. Finally, the boy was back and my 15 passenger van, loaded with me and five boys went roaring out of the campground to catch up. Visibility was a couple of miles. I couldn’t see any cars on teh road ahead. I pushed the van as fast as I dared over the curving road. I slowed down as I went past the ranger station, and then sped back up. 

I finally arrived at the edge of the park. I didn’t know where Ding and Dang were, but I knew they were outside of the park boundaries. The road came to a T. I could go left or right. Do I take a chance and go left toward the mountains? Or Right toward the highway? 

There was a map posted at the intersection. I scoured it for any trace of Ding and Dang canyons with no luck. So again, I did the only thing I could. I waited. The boys piled out of the van and occupied themselves best they could in a desert. 

They would eventually come back to check on us, right? 

The didn’t come back. 

After about 45 minutes I found my brain. The ranger station I flew past. They would know the local canyons. 

Come on, boys. Everyone back in the van.

The ranger knew the directions to Ding and Dang. And it wasn’t the direction I’d taken. There was an earlier turn off for Wild Horse canyon. About a mile past Wild Horse is Ding. I hadn’t considered this turn since it was still inside the boundary of the park. It was a long lonely unmarked road that eventually made its way out of the park by another way. 

The paved road eventually gave way to a dirt road. And then it gave way to a small river. At least that’s what it looked like.  


And it was here that I found our camp trailer and the non 4×4 vehicles from our group. And I found a note:




And there it was. I’d found my way to the right path, but in my Chevy Express van, I was literally at the end of the road. Again, I was stuck with a decision. 

Well boys, we have a choice. We are not going to climb Ding and Dang today. We can go try to find another canyon to hike, or we can go back to Goblin Valley.

Goblin Valley!

I was pretty steamed. I had mentioned to multiple peole that I didn’t know where the trailhead was. I was ready to leave on time, and another leader made a decision that delayed me. Then, they didn’t wait at the campground. Then, when they did figure out I was lost, they didn’t leave a driver and a truck at the trailhead. 

I had a couple dozen reasons why this was not my fault, and how other people had screwed up. I took a good long walk through Goblin Valley cussing out the Hoodoos and the sagebrush. And somewhere on my walk, I realized that there was one person more than all the rest that really screwed up, that deserved my scorn. That person was me. This was the second time I’d been on a scout outing that others had planned and I had gotten lost because I got separated from the group. 

This is the second time that man has done that to me. There will not be a third.

– Captain Jack Aubrey “Master and Commander, The Far Side of The World”

I could have solved every problem that happened that day if I’d chosen to bring my own map. I was lost. I didn’t “get lost” since I’d never known where I was going in the first place, but I was definitely lost and I only had myself to blame. 

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday at 7:00 AM Mountain Time. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. 

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