My lack of talent and endurance only became a problem the day we went for a run along the trails at Dewey Mountain. Despite having grown up in the Adirondacks, I'd always tried to avoid going into the woods, and I'd never stepped foot on Dewey. So when my teammates disappeared ahead of me, I quickly became disoriented. I took a few wrong turns and stumbled deeper and deeper into the forest, losing myself in the blazing maze of autumn colors.
Within minutes, I resigned myself to spending the rest of my life as a rugged hermit. I would build a rudimentary hut out of twigs and dry leaves - those hateful leaves, mocking me with their beauty - and live off of rainwater and bark, knowing all the while that the comforts of civilization were perhaps three-quarters of a mile away as the crow flew, but that I could never reach them thanks to my subpar sense of direction.
Still, I kept running (panic provided me with the energy that a strict diet of Doritos and Pepsi never had) and, in time, I reached a clearing where a silver-haired man was moving piles of dirt around with a bulldozer. Praying that the guy wasn't a serial killer who called himself the Bulldozer Slasher, and that this wasn't the mass grave where he'd buried his victims' remains, I waved at him, getting his attention. He stopped the dozer and got down to see what I wanted, and I explained my plight to him.
"So you see," I said, after laying out my story. "You're my final hope."
The man rubbed his chin and squinted at me, deep creases forming around his eyes, and I thought that maybe he was lost, too - that maybe he and his bulldozer had been lost for years, that he'd grown tired of eating bark, and that he was now contemplating how many meals he could get out of me.