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  • Kathy Schrenk

Hike alone, but be prepared.

Today I bring you another story of a hiker who was miraculously rescued after calamity unexpectedly struck in the wilderness.

As so often happens with these stories, our hero made the classic mistake: "Parker said thoughts of his family kept him going -- no one knew where he was and he worried that in the dense bush he would never be found."

No one knew where he was.

When I speak to a group about hiking -- be it young girl scouts or relative veterans of the outdoors at an REI event I tell them I hope that if they take just one thing with from the talk, that it's this: Always, always tell someone trustworthy where you're going and when you'll be back.

When I was doing research for my book, I was often driving somewhere at least 30 minutes away and hiking by myself. I always had extra food, extra water, an extra layer of clothes and a first aid kit. And I always, always sent my husband a text or email telling him where I was going and how long I would be gone (I put it in writing since a verbal message might be forgotten). He never had to use this information, thankfully. But if I had gotten lost or fallen and injured myself and couldn't get back to my car, he'd know when and where to send the search party.

Because of his experience, the rescued hiker in Australia is telling everyone to "never hike alone." Well, good luck with that. Unless your social circle is made up entirely of the independently wealthy and childless, you're gonna have a tough time getting more than one other person to hike with you at a time. Most of my friends have jobs and kids. If I want to hike I need to plan weeks in advance or just go out on my own. And when I do, I take precautions to give myself the best possible chance of coming back in one piece.

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