It was 4 p.m. and 90 degrees when we finally decided to give up. For hours, Jaclyn and I had been inching our Jeep Rubicon along a dusty unmarked road in the Mojave National Preserve, eventually finding ourselves trapped in a high-walled canyon. We had no idea how far off course we were: Two miles? Twenty? We hadn’t seen another human all afternoon. Soon it would be dusk, then nightfall.
We were lost. Not Can you pull up Google Maps? lost, or Do we still have a road atlas somewhere? lost. No, we were Are we in California or Nevada? lost; Thank god we have emergency supplies lost; This landscape would be gorgeous if it weren’t so apocalyptic lost. The Jeep’s GPS system had been disabled, and our phones and laptops were turned off and sealed in envelopes. We had a collection of specialized large-scale topographical maps, but to figure out where you are on a topo map (a relief map that shows a region’s geographical features), you have to know how to read it. I was supposed to be the better topo reader in our pair, and I could barely pick out the most prominent landmarks. If coyotes or unfriendly strangers appeared, we’d be completely, royally screwed.
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