A Hiking Journey

by: Hoda Joudi Haghighi

campus in the fall, hiking trail
Campus in the fall.

On Sunday afternoon, my friend called me apparently, he was exhausted from his large amount of economics homework, and after struggling for hours, he did not manage to write the code of the program. In need of a breather, he suggested we hit one of the scenic hiking trails around Carbondale for a refreshing uplift of our spirits. 

I quickly packed my things and waited by the entrance, eager to begin our adventure. When my friend arrived, he suggested we take a new route. At the trail entrance, an old, faded map carved on a weathered board caught our attention. Without looking at it closely, I turned on my phone’s navigator. We entered the path we took for an hour on our way past the play of the afternoon light among the green leaves of the trees that have gradually turned autumn colors and valleys with a relatively steep slope. We crossed the roaring sound of a river on the valley floor, and I reached a two-way road where there were two panels, one new and the other older, whose carvings had been cut to the point where it was completely unreadable. 

We entered the new route and after a few minutes, the hiking trail disappeared. When I looked at the phone’s route finder, I discovered its inadequacy for navigating wilderness trails; it was designed for urban roads, rendering it useless in our current predicament. With no other choice, we attempted to retrace our steps, but our efforts proved futile. As daylight waned, the sun dipped lower behind the distant peaks, casting long shadows heralding the approach of sunset. The signal on our phones also stopped working and it was night. 

We entered a cave for shelter. As we ventured deeper, an unknown light was wandering around. we emerged on the other side to find ourselves amidst verdant hills.  In the distance stood an indigenous tent, where a figure played a sacred melody on a flute. Grateful for the chance encounter, we hoped he would guide us out of our situation. However, as he laid eyes upon us, his gaze remained still. 

He invited us to settle in silence around the crackling fire, encouraging us to listen to the symphony of nature surrounding us. As the sound of raindrops softly drummed against the rocks, I drifted into a serene slumber. When I awoke, I found myself back in familiar territory, and to my astonishment, the trail that had vanished the day before was now clear before us. With a sense of wonder, we made our way back, completing our unexpectedly eventful hiking journey. 

Are you an international students interested in SIU? Apply here. Want to go on your own hiking journey, see local trails here.

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