Whether you’re a newbie or an experienced hiker, getting lost in the trail can happen to anyone. Even with all the preparations and planning, you can still get lost – it is the ultimate fear of any hikers! Being aware of these simple guidelines will help you keep calm and navigate yourself out of this kind of situation.
If you feel lost, stop for a moment, sit down, take a deep breath, keep your calm and try to assess your surroundings. Panicking is the worst thing you can do. When you panic, you will start making unreasonable decisions that can cause more harm than good. Take as many deep breathes as you can until you feel calm.
Try to retrace your steps and note any prominent landmarks to keep yourself oriented. If you don’t have a pen and paper with you, mark any landmarks such as trees, rocks, boulders, or man-made signs.
Bring a GPS / Map
If you’re quite the tech guy, downloading trial apps is a great option. Trail apps use a GPS satellite that can track where you have been and works well even if you do not have cell service. But sometimes, gadgets can let us down – what if your battery gets drained mid-way? That is why it’s always good to have a backup – Go old school, do not rely on gadgets, and always bring a map with you on every hiking trip.
Stay On Your Trail
The best way to avoid getting lost is to try your best to stay on your trail. You are most likely to get lost if you start to wander away and take a detour.
Preparation is the key, no one knows how their day will end, but just to be on the safe side, whenever you are going on a trip, whether it be a day hike or an overnight camp, it is crucial to leave a trip plan to let someone know how long you will be gone. In this way, they can report you missing if you do not check in with them at your return time.
The US Forest Service provided an easy-to-remember method for hikers who might get lost. Most trail sites give away pamphlets that you can bring with you.
Remain calm and do not panic. Think about things thoroughly before making any rash decision.
Backtrack the trail in your head and make a good plan before moving in any direction.
Utilize your tools and use your map or compass to help you with the direction.
Think about a plan to get back to the trail. If you are unsure, do not wander and just stay put.