Occasionally you come across a series of events that require such precise timing as to question if they could happen in a random universe. Such an event happened to me last week.
I like to hike…a lot. I like to hike like Michael Jordan likes to play basketball. I do a hike of at least 6 miles every week, I’d do more but then I’d come home to find my clothes in the driveway. Last week I was on a 9 mile hike in one of my favorite areas – Ohiopyle, Pa. Ohiopyle has just about every summer outdoor activitiy there is – rafting, fishing, biking, hiking, camping, and probably a few things I can’t remember, but hiking is my main activitiy (okay, some rafting as well). On this particular hike a bunch of things came together in such a way as to enable me to help two other hikers, a timing that has to make you question if it could be anything other than a guided occurrence. Let me lay it out (this is only from my side of things, I have little idea what occurred on their end):
- I left my house at 9:10, I wanted to leave at 8:30 but woke up late so my timing was off.
- I wanted to update the music on my Jeep’s radio, so when I left I plugged in the USB drive and began the process of uploading over 1,800 songs (yes, this is part of it).
- When I got off the turnpike in Donegal I decided not to follow my navigation system, so I turned left instead of right.
- By turning left I came across a work zone and had to wait for my turn to drive through it.
- My upload of the songs was taking longer than I thought, so I slowed down so that it would have more time to complete the upload (and I wouldn’t have to wait in the trailhead parking lot).
- When I got to the lot the upload was still running (argh!) so I had to sit for 18 minutes for the upload to finish.
- After the upload finished I loaded my daypack and my waterbottle, grabbed my hiking staff and headed off. I was trying out two new trail apps and had them running simultaneously on my cellphone. Because of this my hiking went slower than it normally would as I would periodically stop to check out both apps to see if they were faithfully tracking me.
- I also stopped along the way to take pictures to see if they posted to the apps properly. Along with these were the normal stops for drinks and breaks to rest and enjoy the views.
- At one point one of the apps was far off from where I should be, so I stopped for 5-8 minutes to check it out, see what was going on, and compare it to the other app. Since my phone battery was starting to run low (GPS apps use a lot of power) and the one app was already wrong, I turned that app off to save battery, then continued on.
- At one point I had to make a decision on whether to follow a different trail further up the hill, or my original trail as it turned back down to Ohiopyle. I decided to go up the hill to Sugarloaf Knob.
- When I reached the parking lot at Sugarloaf Knob I stopped for a quick lunch.
- After lunch I decided to take the shortcut in front of the knob instead of the trail that goes around the knob, meeting up with the shortcut trail on the other side of the knob. I took the shortcut.
- At the other side of the shortcut I started the trek down the hill into Ohiopyle (patience, we’re almost there).
- Going down the hill you cross a service road, on the other side of the road the park had done some clearing of trees. It’s a normal process, but it made it hard to identify my trail from fake trails made by bikers. It took a few minutes to find the real trail and continue on my way.
- After a half mile I came across a junction with another trail. I stopped to take a drink, at that point I heard the other hikers coming down the side trail. When they saw me they called out for some help, they were lost. They had talked with someone else when they first realized they were lost and he sent them down the trail that intersected with mine, with the instructions to turn left at the junction and follow the trail down to their car. He was wrong. Had they followed the advice they would have ended up on the trail I had just used to come down the hill, and would have been back up at Sugarloaf, or on one of the side trails that came off of that trail.
- I told them to follow me and I would take them to the trail that would take them back to their car. They walked with me for about 2 miles when I sent them off on their trail, and I continued on mine to where I was parked.
Consider everything that had to come together, along walking speeds, to assure that the three of us would meet at just the right time and place. Even a minute later and I would have been out of their sight. A few minutes earlier and they would have turned left, they might have met up with me, or they might have ended up at the clearing and who knows where they would have gone from there, with all the fake trails (I say fake trails because they do not appear on any maps, with no idea where they lead).
Could all of this happen by sheer coincidence, or were we guided so that we would meet?