Beware the path most travelled - it just might add lots of bonus miles! In this case, I was running the loop around the Seven Devils, part of the Hells Canyon National Recreational Area, which is about a 30 mile run.
I was bombing along and, with the exception of tripping on a tree root while trying to get a picture of a herd of elk, everything was running according to plan.
Until I burst (okay, jogged) out of the trees and saw a gorgeous lake in front of me. That's when I took this picture. That's Baldy Lake and the only problem with it is that it wasn't on the loop route - it's off a spur.
So, the first thing I did was snap the picture - no sense in letting a little mistake distract me from the beauty of the lake.
Then I yanked out my topo and figured out where the heck I was. I did an eyeball triangulation off the peaks to dial it in and figured out where I missed my turn.
If you look at the first picture, there is a tiny trail on the other side of the log on the left side. That's actually the main loop trail but nobody makes it past Baldy Lake coming this direction.
I ended up turning about 35 miles that day and my feet were very tired puppies by the time I was done. But I did get a great picture that is still my desktop background and a wonderful memory.
The path least travelled may make all the difference but sometimes you can do both - the beaten and unbeaten paths - and each can have it's rewards.