Thursday, March 26, 2015

Lost Key Karma


Ever lose your keys on a hike before?  If you have (like we have), you have also lived that "heart stopping moment".  That moment where (after hours of maneuvering uneven terrain with your feet) you are ready to collapse into the bucket seats of your car But you can't, because when you reach for your keys...they are gone.

In Hawaii, after a lovely afternoon viewing sea turtles and exploring tide pools, we meandered our way back to the car.  Truman had fallen asleep on Brian's shoulder (this is a running theme).  Brian and I chatted about the day and our grumbling bellies.  We get to the car and I fumbled for the keys, but they were gone.  

"DON'T PANIC!", the excellent advice from the most famous travel book The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, was lost on us that afternoon.  Exhaustion quickly turned to frustration as we realized that we would need to retrace our steps and we had hiked quite a ways.  I may or may not remember briefly bickering and blame tossing before we regained composure and formulated the plan:  Operation Retrieve Keys or Suffer the Consequences.  We decided it would be most efficient if only one of us returned to the beach while the other stayed with Truman and the gear.   

Brian drew "daddy duty" taking Truman to the playground at the beach park and I began the trek back to the area where we had been hiking, combing the landscape for the missing keys.  My mind began to race with anxiety as I recalled the conversation I had with my mother before we borrowed her car for the day.    

"There is only one set of keys for the car and this is it.  DO NOT LOSE THESE KEYS!" she said sternly, jingling the keys at me. 

"We won't!" I replied confidently, taking the keys and attaching them to a brightly colored plastic teething toy of Truman's and then attaching that to our pack for the day. 
Image of teething toy attached to keys

Still lost in my own thoughts, I continued to spiral...   

"How could we have been so cocky?"   

"Wonder how much a locksmith will cost?"   

"Dammit, why didn't my mother have a spare key made?!?" 

"Why did we have to be the one's to lose the keys?" 

You get the idea...Just Plain Ugh! 

And then...out of the corner of my eye...there they were.  The brightly colored teething chew toy, keys still attached, laying on the beach.  Halleluiah! 

A huge weight had lifted.  I returned to Brian and Truman with a spring in my step, a smile on my face, and keys (tightly clutched) in my fist. 

A few weeks ago, on our hike back down from the  summit of the Manitou Incline via Barr Trail, we had a chance to pay a little "lost key karma" forward.  There were quite a few hikers coming down the trail that day.  many moving faster than our family of three.  And by faster I mean they were running the trail and we were...well, crawling.  Hiking etiquette recommends moving aside for speedier travelers.   

A solo runner approached us from behind, with about two miles left to the parking lot.    Brian was a few yards ahead of us.  I called out to let him know someone was coming.  We each moved to opposite sides of the trail and the runner zigzagged between us exchanging "Hello's!" as he passed.  As he wound the bend that took him out of our line of sight, Brian saw the keys.  A basic key fob with a few keys attached was laying in the trail.  They were clean, which meant they had been recently dropped.  We yelled for the runner, but he was already out of earshot.  Even if we had been able to stop him, there was no guarantee they were his.  

Brian pocketed the keys and we continued moving.  Clouds were rolling in and
the sun was beginning to go down.  We needed to pick up the pace if we were going to make it back to the car before it got dark.  We hoped whoever dropped the keys would make an attempt to find them by coming back up the trail or that we'd see someone in the parking lot waiting for a locksmith.  

About a quarter mile from the end of the trail we saw a dejected hiker heading towards us.  He was looking down and even from a distance, we knew it was him.  When he reached us, Brian said, "Lose a set of keys?" as he pulled the keys out of his pocket.  The runner was momentarily speechless and then profusely appreciative...especially when we told him how far back we had picked them up.  We exchanged a few more pleasantries and then the runner turned and bounded back down the hill towards the parking lot...with a spring in his step, a smile on his face, and his keys (clutched tightly) in his fist.       

TIP TO AVOID LOSING KEYS ON THE TRAIL 
  1. Place keys into pack or pocket that zips or seals.
  2. Attach keys to brightly colored key chains.
  3. If running or hiking without a pack or pockets, attach keys to a lanyard that can be worn around the neck. 

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