Joined: 07 Feb 2003
Location: Everett, Washington
| Posted: 8/27/2003, 12:03 pm
|Obviously you have read my article on how to have a good hike and you will never need to use the information in this article. But, you may run into that all too common situation where you are out hiking and get chased by a bear. In your haste to get away from the bear, you may have had to leave the trail and your gear behind and you are now hopelessly lost.
What do you do?
Assuming the bear is now safely away and no longer an issue, the first thing you want to do is sit down, get comfortable and take a break. Relax yourself. Panicking will do you no good and will only burn energy. Think back to the last place you knew where you were, or where you left the trail. Can you backtrack there? If not, don't try!
If you are on a trail, STAY ON THE TRAIL! When the rescue personnel come looking for you, the first place they will look is the trails, in which case you will be found usually within hours. If you are not on the trail, it may take days or longer to find you.
If you are near a trail intersection, that is a great place to sit and wait for help. That will be the first place the Search & Rescue volunteers head for.
Make yourself visible. If you are in a wooded or concealed area, move to an open area. Make yourself easy to be found. If you need to be under cover or shade for weather reasons, try to leave something out that will be seen, such as a shirt hanging in a tree.
Make noise. If you have a whistle, or can whistle loudly, do so frequently. Otherwise, yell for help occasionally. Listen closely also, the rescue personnel should be calling out for you.
If you see a helicopter or searcher, try to signal them. Use a mirror or knife blade if you have one, otherwise wave your arms a shirt a tree branch, or shake a tree. A signal fire should be a last resort.
If you think you will be lost for an extended time (you didn't tella nyone where you were going and when you'll be back), look for water before you need it. Your best bet on finding water is in the lower areas. Look for valleys, canyons and washes. Where you find a cluster of trees or bushes, you will find water. You may have to dig. Also know that most birds and animals go to water in the morning and evening. Follow them.
Try not to walk too much, a moving target is much harder to find and you will burn more energy. It's also common for a lost person to walk out of the area being searched.
If your cell phone does not get a signal, it probably wont get a signal on top of that small hill. Save your energy. You would need to get up a pretty big hill/mountain to get a signal and it may not be worth the climbing.
If you do get a cell phone signal, call the local sheriffs office. Calling any other place may get you in a run around and you could lose your signal or kill your batteries before actually calling for help. 911 should get you to the local sheriff office.
Do not leave the trail!
If you need to leave the trail to find water or take a look around, leave something on the trail that identifies you are nearby. Leave a pack, a shirt, bra, sock.... If nothing is available, write something in the dirt.
Don't keep moving!
Often times, a lost person will keep walking and walk so far from where they were thought to be that they end up in an area where no one is looking for them.
People like to stash themselves in a cave or under a tree for protection from the weather. When they do this, they make themselves hard to find.
Don't conserve water!
If you have water, drink it. Don't sip it. When you sip water you may not take in enough to get to your brain. Drink gulps at a time.
If you find water, drink it!
Even the dirtiest grossest water will take a few days to kill you. Without drinking in the desert you can die in just a few hours.
Do not separate!
If you are in a group or with a friend or two, do not split up. Even if one of you were to find the way out, would they be able to tell rescuers where the others are? If you do separate, they are now looking for multiple lost people.
Don't burn up your cell phone batteries!
If you have a cell phone, get a signal and call for help. Power off the phone afterwards! Make arrangements to call in on time intervals (i.e. every hour). Calling friends or leaving the phone on will burn the batteries.
Hopefully you'll never have to use any of this, but you should know it just in case.