I heard this song and thought, “What a wonderful accompaniment that would be for a story about being lost in Panthertown…what a frantically wonderful soundtrack to a frenzied trip back home….”

So…here’s the song….and here’s the story…

“Jungle Boogie” Kool and the Gang

I worked at a summer camp on Lake Sapphire in North Carolina for a couple of summers….taught “mountaineering”…sometimes taking kids on climbing trips but usually just taking out hikes.

The camp property butted up to an area called “Panthertown”.

It’s a pretty amazing place…big rock walls, good hiking…and…

Impenetrable Rhododendron.

The day that I got lost, the mountaineering staff was up in Panthertown doing some orienteering practice. My map skills are minimal. I’m not a “nature king”. I can walk around in the woods with the best of them…but I don’t always know where I am.

It’s not a great mystery to me that I was the one who got lost.

We were making our way through one of the “impenetrable rhododendron forests” when I got separated from the group.

Actually, I separated myself from the group.

“I’m going around it THIS WAY…” I said.

After struggling with the leaves and branches for a while, I poked my head as far up as the tangle allowed and yelled for my other professional guides.


I could hear a faint sound off in the distance.

I couldn’t hear anything that sounded like the group.

(I found out later that they ditched me…they heard me but didn’t know where I was so…they ditched me…left me out there in the woods. It was one of those “every man for himself” kind of hikes…”we’ve got to save ourselves” kind of situations…)

So there I was…lost in Panthertown…tangled up in the vegetation…unable to see anything but the wall of green.

It was more irritating than anything…not scary, just kind of inconvenient.

After pushing through the rhododendron without any good result for a while, I jumped into the stream and pushed through the leaves and branches there.

I guess that I must have felt that following the water down was a better bet than just thrashing around in the woods the way I’d been doing.

I could thrash around in the water. That might be a better choice.

After a while of “under and over” hiking….my glasses fogged and covered with bits of grass and other vegetation…I came to the bigger river that I knew was down there “somewhere”….and followed it until I came to a familiar trail…and then I ran back to camp before it got dark and they sent the professionals out to find the “poor lost hiker”.

I’m glad I made it back before I made the evening news.

That would have been embarrassing to make the national news.

When I got back to camp, my friends told me “yeah…we heard you yelling…but we decided we couldn’t wait”. They were having a hard time, too…so decided to go on back to camp if they could push through the vegetation.


Anyway….I guess it all worked out for the best.

I’m here, aren’t I?!

Sometimes being lost doesn’t mean that you’ll never find your way…sometimes it just means that it’s going to take a little longer to get where you want to go.

photo from here

About Peter Rorvig

I'm a non-practicing artist, a mailman, a husband, a father...not listed in order of importance. I believe that things can always get better....and that things are usually better than we think.

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