One spring day, two friends set out on a canoe trip in the wilderness of Ontario. After paddling all afternoon the first day, they came to a portage, a trail through the woods that would take them to their next lake. The sun was low in the sky, but they wanted to get to that next lake and make camp, so they decided to go ahead. It would take two trips to get their gear from the one lake to the next. As they reached the halfway point on their first trip, they encountered an extensive blow downa great swath of trees blown over by a windstorm. The trail was nearly impassable, especially with a canoe on their shoulders, but they managed to pick their way over and under and around the obstacles and eventually make it to the lake.
By now it was getting dark, but they figured since they'd already made the trip once, the second trip would be easier. Soon they found themselves back at the blow down, and they plowed ahead. After a few moments one of them began to feel something was wrong. "I think we're off the trail," he said. They considered going back to where they had started and getting back on the trail, but the going seemed easier now. "Let's keep going," his partner said. "The trail's to our right. We'll cut back to it later."
They pressed ahead, blundering into the woods through the darkening maze of trees and shrubs. Before long they both had that sick feeling you get in the pit of your stomach when you know you're lost, but neither was prepared to admit it. After floundering about some more, they found themselves in a swampy lowland with no idea where the lake was, where the trail was, or where they had started.
A little while before, they had been having the time of their ...
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