Whether your planning on a glorious hike or its that time to bug out you need to be aware of your surroundings. Know your starting point and if you have one, your destination. Hundreds of people get lost every year. Some are lucky enough to be rescued while others have had no such luck. So don’t be that person because depending on the situation, there may not be anyone to rescue you. Here are the tips you need to know to prevent such a scenario.
First off, before you go out you should grab a map and compass. These can be life savers. although Items such as these will not be of much help unless you are familiar with your surroundings. Know what lies north, south, east and west, nearest roads, trails or landmarks. Always tell someone where you are going, time of your departure and expected time of arrival at your destination point. That way a search party will know where to start looking for you. A lot of trails have log books for just such a situation so make sure to fill in your information. If you find yourself off track and lost #1 thing is DON’T PANIC! Avoid scrambling around frantically. This most likely will end up in getting more lost.
Another precaution you can take is to leave markers where you have been. Create arrows with sticks pointing in your direction of travel. It will be helpful if you need to go retrace your step as well as be beneficial for any rescue parties. If possible try to locate a nearby vantage point. Get as high as safely possible. Look for anything you recognize or any sight of civilization. Don’t forget to remember how you got there. Listen for any sounds like cars, people or water. If there is a creek or sewage drain try to follow it downstream. In most cases these will lead somewhere. Possibly to a road or trail. Most civilizations are created around a water source.
Use the moss method. Some would say this does not work, but it has been very useful for some. The moss method will only work on certain trees, which could be why there is some skepticism. So give it a try. You’ll need to locate a solitary tree that is openly exposed to the sunlight. Moss tends to grow in the shade, typically this is the north side of the trunk. If you find this specific specimen it should point north.
Another important tip to remember is never trek after sunset! The darkness can be your worst enemy. Although with the arrival of nightfall There is a helping hand that will show itself. When all the twinkling dots light up the sky look for the tail end of The Little Dipper and there you will find it. The North Star. When this is located be sure to lay something such as sticks on the ground pointing in this direction. As soon as it is daylight you will know which way is north. Be sure to notice where the sun comes up. Always remember it rises in the east, which means it sets in the west. You will have a greater chance of encountering a road.
Always bring a compass. If you don’t have one get one. It could be a game changer. I recommend a Military Prismatic Compass. You can pick one up in most sporting goods stores or on the LMP store. If all else fails and you find yourself without one of these helpful utensils, create a makeshift compass. Heres what you’ll need:
- wool or silk(if possible)
- puddle of water.
The trick is to rub the needle with the wool or silk around 100 times. If these fabrics are unavailable you can rub it in your hair. Please use caution. You don’t want to have to deal with a head wound also. This gives the needle a magnetic charge. Next place the leaf so it is floating in the pool of water. Then place the needle onto of the leaf. If there is no wind the eye (the larger part) of the needle should point to magnetic north.
So there you have it. Always be prepared and know your surrounding. Have the right equipment and remember these survival skill. I hope this will be helpful for someone somewhere someday. Be safe and happy trails.