Lost in the Wisconsin Woods

Door Bluff@2009 Chicago Tribune/Alex Garcia

Shortly after taking this picture,  I actually found myself lost in the woods of Door County, WI.  And it was not the fun kind of lost. After finishing some shooting for the Tribune earlier in the day, I went to visit this place where I proposed to my wife eight years ago. As circumstances would have it, I was here on the anniversary of that date, and I wanted to be on the water’s edge at sunset when I popped the big question.  A prayer of gratitude and a few photos later, I started back for my car. Unfortunately, I lost the trail back in the fading sunlight. An hour later, covered in mud and scratches, I was at the edge of a 40-foot-cliff, in frustrated disbelief and total darkness.  Among many thoughts, the words of my hotel clerk came to mind, “y’know, there are bears up here!”.  (I did not miss the irony that I was living out the circumstances of many a news story.)  To my relief, a cell phone signal appeared on my phone, and I was able to make an emergency call.  It took another hour of rescue personnel screaming my name before the search party finally found me and brought me to the several assembled firefighters, police, and emergency personnel and their flashing vehicles. So yes, I did my part to confirm the stereotype of an Illinois tourist that day…If I may offer a moral to the story – always take a flashlight, cellphone and compass into the woods (even if you don’t think you’ll need it) and know the preview screens on digital cameras can serve as a decent light, but only when it’s pitch black….