How Not to Lose Your Way While Hiking

hiking map compass 500 How Not to Lose Your Way While Hiking

As the holidays draw near many people have already made plans to get away and relax, to just unwind from the day to day hum drum. The fact is that most people consider an island or beach vacation to be the best form of relaxation, however, with more and more people focusing on staying fit and healthy, many are opting for either adventure holidays or hiking and camping holidays.

The unfortunate truth is that many attempting these hikes and adventure holidays are relatively new to it and don’t pay enough attention to the safety guidelines, tackling these endeavours way too callously. They fail to adhere to the most basic of all hiking rules “Stick to the established trails”.

All that it takes is a slight lapse in judgement and your pleasant hiking holiday can turn into a nightmare. Many wonder off the established trails for numerous reasons:

  • Taking a shortcut
  • Track an animal or bird for a picture
  • Explore a creek or ravine

Before you start off on your hike, make sure that you know exactly where the trail ends or where you will be intending to exit the trail. Ensure that you familiarise yourself with the amount of trails leading off from the one you intend using.  Try to identify as many landmarks on the map as possible, so that once you are on the trail you will be able triangulate your position in relation to the landmarks you identified on the map.

Enjoy your surroundings but make sure to keep your wits about you, ensure that you know which way north is in relation to your position, take note of the position of the sun as well this will help in determining which way north is.

If you are lost

It would be wise to note that not all the trails that you encounter are manmade and that many of the trails either lead to other trails or to nowhere. The point that I am trying to make is that, if you find yourself lost, do NOT simply follow random trails in the hope that they will lead to civilisation, in the best case scenario it would lead to water.

If you think that you are lost, don’t panic, try to mentally retrace your steps to a point where you are sure that you know where you are. Only if you are sure then physically retrace your steps to that point. Mark your progress with items from your surroundings. Ensure that you mark your progress clearly, in case you have taken the wrong trail so that you are able to backtrack and start afresh. Reassure yourself by identifying landmarks and correlate with your map to ensure that you are exactly where you think you should be.

Essential equipment

Compass – Ensure that you have a good quality compass and that you know how to use it correctly.

Map – Mark the trail you intend to follow on your map and highlight landmarks to look out for along your route to ensure that you are on the correct trail.

GPS – Mark your waypoints as you progress on your hike so, in the event that you do get lost, you have an electronic trail back to your starting point. You should, as a general rule, not rely solely on your GPS as the signal could get blocked, the device could get damaged or the batteries could simply run down.

It’s best to inform the rangers or park guides of your intended route and if you intend to camp out. Present them with a map of your intended stopover locations and most importantly your expected time/date of arrival at your destination. Along with the map, hand them a list of emergency contact numbers and fill them in on any health concerns.

Nathan Johnston is an experienced online content writer who enjoys writing about various topics such as  and  as well as other travel related content.

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