Saturday, November 17, 2007

If lost in the wilderness tips

Be prepared. Any day hike, snowshoe trip or even out-of-bounds ski trip can easily turn into an overnight adventure. Be prepared to spend the night, if not in comfort, at least in safety. An emergency blanket, a light source, extra food and water and warm clothes can help you get through an emergency overnight bivouac safely.
• Once you are sure you are lost or in need of help to get out, stay put. If you are in a group, stay together! Separating just doubles the work the searchers will need to do to get you all safely off the mountain.
Always prepare for the contingency of getting lost or stuck outside overnight (or longer). But with proper planning, you can avoid the need for rescue in the first place. Some things you can do:
• Carry and know how to use a map and compass. Use these during your hike or snowshoe outing so you are familiar with the area you are passing through. That makes it easier to navigate out should you become disoriented later.
• Carry and use a GPS device. Familiarize yourself with the unit's operation before heading out. If you store the location of the trailhead before starting your hike, its easy to use the "track-back" feature that's built into the device to find your way back to your car from any location.
• Familiarize yourself with the area before heading out. If you don't know the specific region you plan to travel, study maps before heading out, and if possible, talk with Forest Service rangers or other users to get specifics about trails and possible navigation hazards/difficulties.

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