Search, if not Rescue

Canton watershed viewsThe old Canton Watershed has a network of old roads which they turned into a
set of hiking and biking trails. The trails form a circle with lots of
spokes. We took the West Boundary trail where we followed cleared farm land across a fence line. At one point, two horses came to see if we had anything
to offer them. In the distance, we had outstanding views of mountain
ranges.

Though we took several steep side trails, we could not really extend the hike much beyond 8 to 9 miles. We only saw one person, a young woman with a
dog. (Dogs are not allowed in the watershed). It was a quiet new hike, not too far
from Asheville. See Rough Creek Trail information.

Horses on Canton Watershed hikeBut it is what happened when we got
back to our cars that made it more exciting than I wanted. A young man with a
baby in his arms got out of his van (with California plates) and asked us if
we had seen his wife, a woman with a dog.

We recognized her as the woman we
met hours ago. This young couple live in the housing development just outside
the watershed. She had gone out for a “walk” with (you guess it) no map, no
compass but she had a cell phone. Amazingly, it worked and she called her
husband to tell him that she was lost. There were so many intersections.

I
talked to her on the phone and thought I knew where she was and told her to come
downhill. But she had been going downhill for a while and she didn’t
recognize where she was. There are no blazes and few carsonite wands. Her
husband was so worried and asked us what he should do. I told him not to panic
and certainly not to call 911 yet.

“If you call 911, you will unleash a
response with 50 searchers, dogs, EMTs and heaven knows what else that you
will not be able to stop. It’s still early in the day and your wife is obviously
fine.”

Reluctantly, I put on my boots and went back up the trail to the first
major intersection, blowing my whistle the whole time. I found her and took
her back down to her car and her husband.

On the way down, I told her that I
had earned the right to lecture her about going out without a map and
compass, just because it was her neighborhood. I also told her to join a
hiking club and gave her a Carolina Mountain Club application form.

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