It can happen to the best of us – getting lost while adventuring in the wild. Even with all of the technology we have access to today including cellphones, GPS devices and satellite phones it’s still possible to get lost out there. The weather could hamper your visibility, the vegetation could limit your view or the terrain may obscure the local landmarks and being unprepared could put you in a tough situation.
Read on to discover the common pitfalls of wilderness navigation and how you can avoid them on your next adventure.
1. Misjudging distance
With a heavily laden backpack, every mile you trudge may feel like two. Unless you are skilled at pace counting, the average person will have to make a wild guess about the distance they have travelled when “mile marker” features are absent. This can result in overshooting your mark or falling short of it.
To avoid this, learn to judge distances in various terrain and with different loads. Once you have a handle on the amount of ground you normally cover in any given situation, you can use the amount of time to help you calculate your distance travelled.
2. Inattention to surroundings
Wandering aimlessly or becoming lost in thought as you walk through the wild can be very therapeutic but it can also be inadvisable. When we let our powers of observation lapse, we might step on a rattlesnake, walk right by a trail marker or take a wrong turn that leads us down a dangerous path.
To avoid this make sure to stay tuned in to your senses. Visiting the wilderness is a great way to unplug and unwind, but it’s important to keep your wits about you and pay attention to your surroundings.
3. Tricky terrain
There are many types of terrain that are easy to navigate but there are other types that can challenge even the best navigators among us. Flat and featureless landscapes with no distant landmarks can be wearying to travel. For these vexing landscapes do not leave home without a GPS device, map and compass.
4. Following animal trails
Large animals and humans have more than a few things in common. Both are creatures of habit and both leave trails through the wilderness making it easy to mistake one trail for another. The trails animals make can look like legitimate hiking trails for some distance until they end abruptly.
When you find yourself on a trail that doesn’t end up leading anywhere, turn around and look for your own footprints as you go until you reach the main path again.
5. Getting caught in the dark
Even with good flashlights and headlamps, the darkness can leave you disoriented and unable to navigate. LED lights are great for close up work and they can provide light for dozens of hours, but they don’t reach out into the dark like other types of lights.
The best thing you can do after dark is to just stay put where you are. Rather than wasting energy wandering about and getting more lost, build a shelter and fire as you wait for daylight to come.
6. Getting caught in Mother Nature
It’s called a “forecast”, not a “guarantee” for a reason. The day’s weather prediction is just that – a prediction. Once you’re miles away from your starting point the weather could take an unexpected turn at any point. Fog, snow, rain and other weather events can limit your visibility and worse, erase trails and hide your trail markers.
Always be sure to have a handy weather device with you whether on your phone or watch to get updates throughout your journey.
7. Taking a “shortcut”
There are plenty of sayings out there that basically sum up to mean that taking a shortcut often ends up costing you time rather than saving it. There’s usually a reason why trails and roads go the way they do.
Stick to the designated trails and you’ll likely get to your destination faster and without getting lost.
8. Splitting up
You’ve heard the expression there’s strength in numbers. We all seem to know this instinctively yet, for a wide range of reasons people will leave their hiking group and get lost on their own. Don’t even think about venturing away from your group. This could be a life or death decision.
Stick together, even when someone irritates you or tries to pick a fight. You’re more vulnerable alone and more likely to get lost.
Make sure that you’re prepared for your next adventure in the wild by gearing up with the right equipment at Triggers and Bows hunting goods store! Avoid getting lost out there and instead become found. Visit our store today in Burford or check out our latest gear online.