Man Looks At Map In Wood

LOST IN THE WOODS: SMART TIPS THAT CAN SAVE YOUR LIFE

As with many things in life, camping has its risks. It’s not all roasting marshmallows and singing songs around the campfire, though it can be if that’s how you go camping. However, more often than not, campers go on hiking trails and end up getting lost in the woods. And while realising you’re lost gets your heart thumping for all the wrong reasons, there are some tips and tricks you can employ to survive. Is your curiosity piqued? If so, read on to find out what you can do when you find yourself astray from the trail.

LET SOMEONE KNOW BEFOREHAND

Don’t go camping and hiking without telling a single soul. You must give your full itinerary, including details about your trail, to a relative or friend before you leave. Let them know when you expect to be back so that someone can alert the authorities if you don’t turn up.

STOP, LOOK AND LISTEN

If you do find yourself lost in the woods, the first thing you must do is stop. Don’t keep hiking – you don’t even know where you’re going. If you don’t stop, you may lead yourself further astray. The next thing you must do is observe. Take a look around, do you see anyone at all? If not, check any sign of people and follow their voices. The goal here is to get back on the right trail.

LOOK FOR HIGHER GROUND

If you’ve already drifted too far from the trail, you must try to determine where you are. Sometimes, you’ll find yourself stuck in a dense forest with nothing in sight but trees. Try to look for higher ground where you’ll have a good vantage point. From this position, you’ll be able to get a better view of the whole picture, and it might even help you get back on the trail.

However, if you’re hiking in hilly terrain, you must travel downhill. It’s also a good idea to look for bodies of water like rivers and streams. Travel in the same direction as the water as it gives you a better chance of finding civilisation.

DON’T STAY IN A DENSE FOREST

If you’ve been missing for quite some time, it’s a smart idea to look for open terrain. Don’t stay in a dense forest where you won’t be seen from above. There may be helicopters in the sky looking for you. It’ll be easier for them to spot you if you’re sticking out like a sore thumb in open country.

HAVE A COMPASS AND MAP

Don’t rely on your electronics when you’re out camping or hiking. Your gadgets may be handy, but there isn’t always cell service in the woods. A map of your area and a compass are good things to have on-hand. Never leave them behind when you’re going on an outdoor trip. These navigational tools can help you get back on the right trail. Of course, it’s not enough to simply have them with you. You must also know how to read and use them.

BRING A TRAIL BAG

If you’re leaving your campsite to go hiking on a trail, it’s important to pack a bag with all the essential items with you. Don’t ever go hiking without the necessities. It doesn’t have to be a huge bag. A simple backpack can do the trick. Remember to pack food, water, a lighter, some rope, a knife, a whistle and an emergency blanket or sleeping bag.

MAKE CAMP

Sometimes, it’s better to set up camp for the night than to keep going without any direction. When you get lost in the woods, you make yourself vulnerable to the many dangers associated with the territory. For instance, it can get really cold at night, so you’re at risk of getting hypothermia.

There’s a good chance you don’t have your tent packed with you when you’re hiking, so you must remember how to make a shelter for yourself. This must be done when the sun is still out so that you won’t have to work in the dark.
Gather some branches and logs to make an A-shaped frame. Now, get that rope out of your trail bag and secure your makeshift tent. Get some dry leaves and line them on the frame’s walls to keep your shelter insulated. It may take a lot of time and effort, but at least you’ll be warm at night and have shade in the afternoon.

START A CAMPFIRE

Campfires have many uses when you’re stuck in the middle of nowhere. They can keep you warm and serve as a sort of signal because fires are easy to spot from afar.

Make sure you know how to safely and properly start a campfire. Take some dry wood and leaves, then light them on fire. You must also create a barrier around them using rocks. This is to keep the fire from spreading. You’re trying to get help – not start a forest fire.

GET YOURSELF NOTICED

The campfire is already a good way to get noticed. At night, the glow of the fire can easily be seen. And, during the daytime, the smoke can help rescuers pinpoint your location. However, there are also other methods to get yourself noticed.

The first thing you can try is to shout for help. This works well when you’re still near the hiking trail as other people may be able to hear you. The next thing you can do is whip out that whistle from your trail bag and blow on it three times every once in a while. The idea is to draw attention to yourself, and making noise is a smart way to do that.

DON’T PANIC

Getting lost in the woods isn’t easy. Your heart pumps louder and faster, your hands start to sweat and you begin thinking of the many possible ways you can die out there. You must make sure you don’t descend into madness, so try to keep yourself calm. Panicking has never helped anyone, and that’s not going to change with you.

When it comes down to it, getting lost in the woods isn’t as daunting when you’re armed with the right information. It’s definitely not ideal, but at least you know what you must do to survive. Don’t even think about going hiking on your next camping trip without these important tips in mind. Follow them carefully, and you’ll live to tell the tale.

 


 

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Jake Taylor
jake.taylor@dinga.com.au

Jake is a global traveller who has recently called Australia his home again. If he's not travelling, he is writing about it and his experience.