A few weeks ago I went to Oklahoma to see my boyfriend, Shawn. We are currently in a long-distance relationship (But not for too long). I’ll start off by saying that I LOVED Oklahoma. It’s absolutely beautiful and I can’t wait to go back. I thoroughly enjoyed myself. This was my first time visiting and it’s completely different from Florida. It’s always nice to have a break from where you live. Seeing other parts of America is fun. One of our plans for while I was visiting, was to go hiking together. We were both really excited. What a perfect way to spend the day together. That morning, we got up early, threw on shorts and a t-shirt and headed out for Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge which is about 90 minutes away from where Shawn lives (Maybe slightly less). On our way, we stopped off for a couple of snacks and some water… Okay and maybe a Monster Energy drink too.
Driving towards the mountains once we arrived was really exciting. I was in awe. I don’t think I expected them to be so beautiful or I’d just forgotten what it was like to be around beautiful scenery like that (We don’t have hills in Florida). I instantly felt happy. In my head, I was saying “I’m not going home.”
We got to see some of the wildlife there including free-range buffalo, prairie dogs (THEY WERE SO CUTE) and deer. We also saw a lot of fish (Duh, water).
When we reached the parking lot at the start of the trail, I noticed a family spraying themselves down with sunscreen. I thought “Uh Oh” to myself. A few weeks prior, Shawn and I went to the beach in Sarasota, Florida and got burned to a crisp because we decided to pass on the sunscreen. Wah, genius idea! It was the most painful sunburn and we were complaining about it for weeks. It’s really hot in Oklahoma right now but I figured we wouldn’t be out for too long and hoped for the best.
Off we went, in great spirits and full of enthusiasm. The first part of the walk was on somewhat even ground. We had to hop over a few fallen down trees, small boulders and plow our way through shrubs but overall it was quite easy. That’s where the “easy” part ends. What I didn’t realize is the next few hours of our life were going to be extremely difficult.
We came across a valley of huge granite boulders leading down the mountain-side. We stopped to take pictures (We snap a lot of pics), then Shawn proceeded to walk over these darn things like it was nothing. I didn’t think too much of it at first. I also didn’t think to look to see if there was another way down. I was just following his lead and trusted him. I think I made it over two or three boulders before I looked down at the drop between each of them and then my fear set in FAST! I started to think of all the possible outcomes. If I lost my footing and fell, I’m definitely breaking a few bones once I hit the ground and once I’m down there, I’d be stuck. Or I could smack my head on the way down and die. The least horrible outcome would be that I’d fall and catch myself but I’d scrape my legs up because I was wearing shorts. I started to lose all my confidence until I was leaning back against a rock for balance and freaking out inside my head. I then started to feel really anxious. Partly because I felt unsafe and partly because I was upset at myself (and maybe kinda embarrassed) for chickening out. There aren’t many things I’m afraid of and I was honestly quite shocked that I was so scared. I kept telling Shawn I couldn’t do it and then I started to cry. Great… Just how the day was supposed to go. Way to go, Laura!
Shawn, who had already Spidermanned his way a few boulders ahead of me, kindly climbed back up to me. I was thinking to myself “Oh great, you’ve ruined his day.” and I started feeling really awful. I kept trying to figure a way to climb down onto the next boulder, but I was frozen and couldn’t move. I felt rather silly but he just put his arms around me and cuddled me until I stopped crying which I thought was sweet. He could have got impatient with me or he could have tried to force me to keep going, but he didn’t. He just patiently waited until I was calm enough to make a decision. while reassuring me that I could do it. Feeling his patience and knowing he believed in me, made me want to continue on. I started to gain confidence. There were a few times I looked down and panicked, but in the end, I got through it. I probably wouldn’t have done it without him there. He helped me down whenever I was panicking or if I had to do a big jump, he held my hand. He’s a sweetheart and I appreciated him staying calm for me the entire time. I proper love him.
He was trying to remember where a cave was that he went in the last time he was there (Which was about a year ago) so again, I was just following his lead. It was difficult navigating our way up, down and over the boulders, because a few times we’d hit an end where we couldn’t jump or climb so we’d have to turn around and go back the way we came and try another way. In the end, we figured it out.
Now I sit here writing this. I’m thinking back to when I was a child. I used to jump down boulders all the time. I remember just bouncing from each one like I was in an action movie. The rocks in England were more slippery too and had moss on them. Back then, I had no fear. You don’t think about it when you’re young, you just do it. I’m definitely not as confident as I used to bed but hey whatever, I did it. We did it.
Once we found the little cave, it was nice and cool inside so we decided to have a little snack and a drink. It was already getting hot out so the shade felt lovely. Then we continued walking. I don’t even know what we were doing at this point. Shawn had his GPS out looking for the path to continue on to a lake. We could have just found the path and continued on but I had to get over-excited and I just ran up a hill that was directly in front of us. We then couldn’t see the pathway, so we went on a wild goose chase, trying to find it. I feel like we climbed up the darn hill-side 5 or 6 times. I just remember going down and then back up and then back down, then back up again, over some more boulders and trying to avoid being pricked by the bed of cacti that were hanging around. Poor Shawn took a hit to the shin. That’s after he gashed his knee on a rock. Ugh!
After our treck up and down the mountain-side, we finally found the path again and off we went. I started to feel tired but didn’t want to be a quitter. On our way to the lake, we came across a narrow creek leading down into the canyon, forming a small pool. I think we were both happy to see some water. We slid down the rocks to get to the pool to cool off. I was so hot, I honestly didn’t care what was in there. I took my shoes off and got in. It felt SO GOOD!!! Shawn was filling empty water bottles up and pouring it over his head. It was a nice moment.
Feeling refreshed, we continued on. That feeling didn’t last for long though. Ten minutes later, I found myself getting really tired and wondered when we were going to be done. We finally reached the lake. We didn’t go down to it but we sat up on top of the cliff and rested for a little while. I was trying to keep my spirits up high but then Shawn looked at his phone and told me we’d been walking for about 4 hours. My mood instantly dropped. My response was “I can’t do another 4 hours walking back.” I felt bad for being a bit grumpy, but I was tired. After a moment of disappointment and worry, I chose to try and see the positive. I was having a nice day with my boyfriend. Get over the tiredness.
We set off back, in the hopes we’d get to the car soon, seeing as we already knew the way. That’s when shit started to hit the fan. It was HOT!!! Then we noticed we were almost out of water. This made me panic a little. I let Shawn walk ahead because I didn’t want him to see me having a mini panic attack. I tried my best to keep quiet but the more I tried to keep quiet, the less I could breathe. We had no shade, I had no idea what time we’d get back, it was too hot and I was mad at myself for being so anxious. I grew up hiking every weekend with my Dad and my Grandma. I’ve climbed some high mountains in my life and I never once panicked. I think it dawned on me just how much I allow myself to worry and I felt disappointed in myself.
I think from then on we both started to lose energy FAST! We decided to ration out the water, only having little sips. At this point, we only had two bottles left. Knowing we had a few hours to go before we were getting back, this wasn’t good. It kept getting hotter and hotter. Things were beginning to get more intense.
The hardest part!
We continued on until we finally got back to the valley of boulders, which we had to climb in order to get back to the path that leads us to the car. I had lost a lot of energy and Shawn was losing his. This was about to be the hardest part of our hike. One that was really going to test us!
Off we went, hopping from rock to rock. I panicked a couple of times but I had so little energy, I couldn’t afford to be wasting it on panicking, so I got brave and went for it. We went the wrong way again, finding huge gaps that we didn’t want to jump, and a few times we lost sight of which way we were supposed to be going to reach the path. With the heat beaming down on us and us almost being out of water, it hit us hard! About 3/4 of the way up Shawn finally lost his energy. It was so scary because he nearly passed out from heat exhaustion, I could see him getting wobbly which frightened me. If he fell, he was going straight down below the boulders. Again, probably hitting his head. He almost passed out so we had to stop and sit on a boulder for a few minutes. The heat was too intense and we were dehydrated. Things weren’t looking good and if we continued on, we’d have been putting ourselves in a lot more danger. My babe then started having a panic attack. His heart was racing dangerously fast and he struggled to breathe. It wasn’t good. It scared me. I’m sure it scared him. Stranded in the middle of this huge canyon of boulders in the scorching hot weather, dehydrated and full of panic, I honestly didn’t see us getting out of it for a minute. I considered trying to call for help. Had me taken more water, we probably would have felt a lot better, but we didn’t anticipate being out this long. Well, at least if we die, we die together, right? That was one moment in life that I didn’t enjoy. All I could do was hold his hand and try to help him steady his breathing. He was an absolute pro though and got through it really fast. I was proud of him for it.
Once we got our breathing a bit more regulated, we decided the only way we were getting through this, is if we powered on. We looked up and realized we really didn’t have too far to go. We chose the path we wanted to take up the boulders and we went for it. Following him up there in a panic, I heard “BABE, we are at the top!” … I looked up and we had done it. In fact, we’d gone up a little further than we needed to. Holy shit, we’d done it. We were okay! I sat on a boulder and my eyes started tearing up. I was so relieved.
I was proud. Shawn was proud. That’s the hardest part DONE! Only a 10 minute walk back to the car. EASY! Or so I thought.
We drank what was left of the water but both of us were almost passed out at this point. Our energy levels were extremely low. Shawn had to keep stopping to get his breathing back on track, then I had to keep stopping because I couldn’t breathe properly;y either. We honestly stopped every 2-3 minutes, I’m sure of it. That’s what it felt like. Losing your breath completely due to panic when you’re exercising is awful. You panic more. I then started to lose all hope of ever making it to the car. The parking lot seemed so far away. It was becoming the most frustrating part of the entire walk. When were we going to get back? It wasn’t supposed to take this long. There was a point where we just looked at each other and decided to power through it. And that’s what we did. We weren’t happy about it though. I cried a couple of times out of frustration. I’ve honestly never been so dehydrated and in need of a drink in my entire life. Our mouths were dry, we couldn’t walk fast. I could tell Shawn was tired because he is usually so sure-footed but he was tripping over rocks. We kept comforting each other, but then getting really angry that this trail seemed to be never-ending.
Finally, we did it. We reached the end of the trail and got back to the car. We started walking towards it and a lady started talking to us. Neither of us stopped. I felt rude but I was not stopping for anyone. Just leave us alone lady, we almost just died!!! Full of relief, we hopped in the car and drove straight to the nearest store to buy water. As expected, we were both sunburned and it hurt. I didn’t care though. Just give us water!!! I may have brought a Sprite too which Shawn didn’t seem too happy about haha.
To people that hike out in the heat every day, that walk is probably easy for them. But for us, it was the hardest walk we’d ever done. Actually, it was a hard walk regardless of how often you do it. It sounds cheesy but in a way, I’m glad it happened to us. It put our relationship to the test. There could have been times we got angry at each other. The level of panic, stress, and exhaustion we felt, we surely could have snapped at each other a few times, but we didn’t. We worked as a team to get through it. We didn’t get frustrated with one another. We had each other’s backs the entire time. If one person was struggling, the other one would be supportive. We worked together and got through it. I’m proud of us!!!
So that’s the story about our crazy day out hiking. Don’t regret it one bit.
Thank you for reading.