I went for a trail run with my running club on Saturday. The coach gathered us in a group and discussed the various trails and distances that were available. He turned to me, mid-lecture, and asked which trails I'd be running, hoping that perhaps I could lead some novices through the trails.
"Coach, I'm going to do what I always do on trail runs. I'm going to get lost almost immediately, run aimlessly until I feel half-exhausted, and then turn around and try to find my way back."
Everyone laughed as though I were joking. Ha ha ha.
Shortly thereafter we launched out on our run. We were all going to run the same trail on the first leg of the run, so each time I got to an intersection, I just waited for the group so that I wouldn't get lost. When the group reached the split-up point, I latched on to another runner in the group. He seemed like a good choice because he was about the same speed as me, and he worked for Google. Let's call him Jeeves.
"Jeeves! I'm going to follow you." I exclaimed.
"You won't get lost, right? You Google people know everything, right?"
"Don't you have like Google Earth built into your sunglasses? Can you see us on the satellite images right now?". I waved to the sky.
"Yes. Shhhh!" Jeeves whispered, holding his right hand up to his temple, "I'm getting the signal right now."
I let Jeeves run in peace for a while, figuring that I didn't need to overwhelm him with my neediness or Google fanboydom. I didn't want him to flip some switch somewhere, breaking my access to Google.com. I followed him silently, confident in his trail-choosing skills. Meanwhile a few other runners were following behind us.
I'd say it took about 4 minutes before we knew we were lost. We somehow ended outside of the trail system, on a residential street in San Rafael.
"I don't think this is right." one of the other brilliant runners announced. She suggested that we backtrack and try to figure out where we had made our mistake. That sounded good, and we launched back in the opposite direction, but I was concerned that more drastic measures might be required.
I manuevered my way into the middle of the pack and spoke up, "Folks, now that we're lost, I think we should figure out who we're going to kill and eat first."
This comment was met with total silence. I'm not good with pregnant pauses.
"Well, in the absence of any better ideas, I'm going to suggest that we kill the youngest. I think we can all agree that tender meat is the best. Like veal."
The older woman in front of me finally spoke up. "That sounds good." There was a murmur of agreement from one or two others.
I looked around and spotted one guy in the group who appeared to be around 22. He was clearly the youngest. I smirked at him. "Sorry, dude. It's been decided."
He grimaced. "You know, I'm quite muscular. I don't think I'd make good eating. Too sinewy."
I debated his over-inflated body image, and my looming hunger, just as we arrived at a fork in the trail. One direction was the original trail we had come in on. The other direction was a tiny trail going straight up a nearby hill. This seemed like an easy choice to me.
Suddenly, the young guy's friend sprinted to the front of the group. "Let's go up! This is what cavemen did when they were lost! They'd go to the highest peak." He began ascending the hill.
This was maybe the worst idea yet. It was clearly not a main trail. It went STRAIGHT UP, and the only reason to go up it was based on caveman reasoning. I looked over at Jeeves and he shrugged helplessly. Apparently his satellite link wasn't online.
Like sheep, we all followed the guy up the hill, and back down the treacherous other side. After this 5 minute exercise, we were about 100 yards from where we were when we had made the crappy caveman decision.
I took the lead at this point, picking a trail that just happened to lead us unintentionally back to the original starting point. I guess at that point we weren't technically lost, but we were back at the beginning when I was still hoping to log another five miles or so. Doh! I hate inadvertent circles.
I think the young guy was secretly relieved, but I was forced to relaunch out for another 40 minutes of running. I prevented myself from going the wrong way by not actually having a destination in mind. I just alternated turns, first going right and then left. After 20 minutes, I turned around and did the opposite. Astonishingly, this worked. I returned back to the starting point about 39 minutes after I had left.
The moral of the story is that you can't get lost if you don't care where you go, and that you should always keep in mind who you're going to kill and eat.