Getting lost is the last thing you want to think about while heading out on the trail with friends, exploring the nature around you and taking in the gorgeous scenery. However, statistics show that it happens to one in three hikers at some point so it’s best to be prepared if you suddenly find yourself all alone, lost in fog or bad weather or having wandered off the path by accident. Before you set out tell someone roughly where you, or the group are going and when you should be back as well as checking out the proposed route. Sadly, if you’re already in trouble that’s not going to help much, but at least if you don’t come back, the alarm will be raised.
If you realize that you’re not quite where you’re supposed to be or that the trail has taken you in an unfamiliar direction stop. Don’t carry on in the vain hope that it will eventually lead you to the right place as you may end up in a worse situation, or hurt yourself when faced with a much more difficult route than the one you’re currently on. Lost hikers tend to use the STOP rule which means Stop, Think, Observe and Plan so now’s the time to have a drink and some food and consider your options carefully. If you’ve brought a pocket GPS or phone with you take it out and have a look to see if you’ve got any signal, if anyone’s been in contact with you or if you can use GPS to plot your location. Don’t worry if you didn’t bring these or if the battery has died as there are other ways to figure out where you are.
Think And Observe
Mentally retrace your steps and think about where you were the last time you spotted a familiar landmark or when you last saw your friends. If you took pictures along the way get out your phone or camera, scroll through to see if you recognise anything. Think about the direction you’re currently facing is it North or South? East or West? Do you remember which way you were meant to be headed? Observe what’s around you by looking at the ground, trees and even where the sun is in the sky as well as what the current weather is like. If it’s close to sunset you may be forced to spend a few hours in the dark, if not the whole night, alone so click here to find out more about wilderness survival and the necessary supplies.
Plan Your Next Steps
Wear bright clothing that will help rescuers see you better and if possible consider retracing your steps a few feet back onto the main path. Use your whistle to attract attention from anyone who may be in the vicinity; three short, sharp blasts is the global signal for help me! If you are forced to spend the night put on any extra layers, find some sort of shelter and build a small fire as it’ll be useful not just for keeping warm but anyone looking for you will see the smoke.