To the dude/lady couple hiking the Cape Lookout trail around dusk on Friday, 8/15: you guys saved my life, and I was too macho to admit it at the time. I was unprepared for that hike in a million ways; wrong shoes, wrong clothes, didn't have the slightest notion of how long or what shape the trail was, general full-fledged idiocy all around.
I had been walking for over an hour, scrambling through several hundred feet of slippery, mud-drenched trail with a sheer cliff drop-off into the Pacific Ocean. The sun set. It started getting dark. I had convinced myself that I was on a loop trail and that surely I must be nearly back to tue parking lot.
Then I ran into you two. You asked casually if I had hiking lights, as the end of the trail (not a loop btw, just a 2.5 milein/out) was still a ways away. I lied and said "yeah" because I'm a macho fool, then kept walking down the trail.
Twelve seconds later I panicked like a giant baby and started running after you. But keeping my distance so it wouldn't seem like, you know, I was unprepared to hike a muddy cliff-face in pitch-black darkness. You both knew I was behind you, huffing/puffing through the forest.... you kept pausing just ahead on the trail, making sure I was following, making sure I was okay. You did that for 2 miles, right up until we reached the blessed parking lot—and then you made charming commentary about my Geo Metro, rather than openly shaming me for being an unprepared hiker.
I cannot say 'thank you' enough.