Got that big backpacking trip coming up? Take a second to read this and learn how to help prevent getting lost in the woods and what to do if you get lost.
Don’t pull an “Into the Wild”
Have you ever read Into the Wild? I wouldn't recommend doing anything that kid did. It is your life and safety at risk. Use your resources and think smart. If you choose not to prepare (please prepare) then look for help. If that kid had checked out the terrain, like any smart camper or explore should do, he would have found his salvation about a mile away down the river from the broken down bus he was found in.
Get on the move
Don’t stay in one spot. Staying in one spot will, literally, not get you anywhere. Only by moving are you going to get yourself back to where you want to be.
Chances are you weren't on a trail. There should be signs that you have been through there. Footprints, disturbed terrain, snapped branches, etc. On a prevention note, take a leaf out of Hansel and Gretel’s book and leave a trail. Not of bread crumbs or garbage but just occasionally take the time to mark your way. Roll a rock into an open area on at an odd angle or lay a thick stick against a tree.
Get to a high spot
If there is an elevated point available, get to higher ground so that you can better see your surroundings. This will allow you to see whether or not there are barriers in any particular direction, land marks, or perhaps even your destination.
If you are separated from your group, get loud. If you are concerned about wild life, put your worries at rest. Animals are deterred by noise. This can do nothing but help your situation.
Check the map
Bring a topographic map and a good compass with you. Be sure to mark your vehicles location on it, your camp site and the location of any roads if they are not on there already.
GPS or even a light weight mini GPS tracker. A GPS will give you an overview of your
surrounding area. A GPS tracker can attach to whatever you want. Attach it to
your truck or something in your campsite. If you get lost switch on your GPS
tracker and it will guide you straight back to your vehicle.
Follow a river
Depending on how serious your situation is, if you are very far out and need to find civilization, follow a river. There is always life along a river and a road (or even town) will eventually meet up with it. If we are looking at a potentially long haul, it has the means to sustain you. If you get desperate, it has water and food, whether it is fish or plants or whatever critters that go to the river.
Thanks go out to Dave for an excellent guest post.
Dave Burr is a freelance writer for Spyville. In his free time, he enjoys backpacking in the Seven Devils with his kids or reading in his backyard.
Staying above the water line!