Okay, so one moment you are enjoying a nice stroll through the woods and taking in the natural beauty of the wilderness, the next, you suddenly notice that you must have taken a wrong turn somewhere and have no clue where you are.
There comes a moment, when you get lost in the woods, when the woods begin to feel like home.
Do you try heading back? Carry on going the direction you’re heading? What if it gets dark? What do you do?
It was only meant to be a day hike, it’s going to be getting dark soon and you don’t have a map or compass. The good news is that even without these tools, you can still get yourself back to civilization.
Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrows, it empties today of its strength.
As soon as it becomes apparent that you are Lost, you need to use the STOP method.
- Stay Calm – take a couple of deep breaths and calm yourself down a little. Panic is not going to help you out here.
- Think – try to think about the direction you came from. Was it fairly straight? Were there many turns? Landmarks? Any bits of information that you can remember will be of use.
- Observe – can you determine which direction is north? Check your kit to see how much food and water you have. Check the ground for any signs that other people have recently traveled through the area and if so, which way are they headed?
- Plan – you need to make a plan and decide which way you are going to head and mark your trail often. If you don’t find your way, you can always return to the point where you first realized you were lost.
Take Higher Ground
Over every mountain there is a path, although it may not be seen from the valley.
If the STOP method didn’t get you out then you need to try and find some higher ground to get a better look at what’s around.
Can you see a river or other bodies of water? A road? Buildings? Look for anything that can help you orient yourself. There is no point trying to aimlessly walk around hoping to find a way out so look for something that can help.
It won’t always be easy to find higher ground and even when you can, you should only do so if you can do it safely. There is no point putting yourself in danger attempting to get to higher ground as you could end up making the whole ordeal a lot worse.
Look and Listen
We have two ears and one tongue so that we would listen more and talk less
You need to remain observant at all times. Keep stopping along the way in order to give yourself a chance to scan the area for signs that people have been there before and which way they were heading.
As well as looking, you also need to listen and listen well. Can you hear anything in the distance that may be a sign that you are getting closer to civilization?
Head for Open Country
One thorn of experience is worth a whole wilderness of warning.
It can be a lot easier trying to find signs of civilization when traveling in open country. Not only this, but it also gives you a much better chance of being spotted too.
If you see a low-flying aircraft, be ready with something to signal the plane. Something shiny such as a mirror or brightly colored clothing can grab the attention of a pilot.
If a plane spots you, stop and stay where you were seen. It is possible that the pilot won’t be able to land where you are but they can radio your position through so don’t make it hard for rescuers by moving on from your spot.
If you must move, use branches to make an arrow on the ground in the direction you are heading – just be sure it’s big enough to be seen from the air.
You don’t know if you’re going to be rescued in a day or a month; gotta prepare for the long haul; gotta make the place your home.
To find civilization, it is almost always a smart idea to head downhill as people tend to settle in valleys, usually close to water.
Unless you have seen signs that prove otherwise, head down and out of the mountains.
If you come across a stream or river, follow it in the direction the water is running. Water flowing in a downhill direction can lead you to a town or populated lake.
If it Gets Dark
The man who goes afoot, prepared to camp anywhere and in any weather, is the most independent fellow on earth.
Don’t try to find your way out in the dark. It is a much better choice to stay put until morning.
Ideally, you want to stop a few hours before darkness starts setting in so as to give yourself time to find or create a shelter for the night. Even if you have a tent, it won’t be so easy to try and set up in the dark.
If you have no choice but to build a simple shelter for thgr night be careful not to build it too close to a water source. Some nocturnal animals are active around rivers, especially at night, using the waterways like a natural highway for navigation.
Nobody would ever like to think that they would ever need to use the information here but sadly, it happens, and it is always much better to be prepared rather than actually get lost and then wish you read it.
We would love to hear any experiences that our readers have had. Have you ever been lost in the wilderness? What did you do?