Please, please be prepared!
Updated: Sep 12, 2019
This week the news brought yet another story of a formerly-lost hiker. This one was very different from the one I blogged about a few weeks ago, in which two people were well-prepared and did all the right things and got found within a few days. This time, a woman on the Hawaiian island of Maui managed to get lost for more than two weeks with nothing but the clothes on her back. She ate bugs and drank from the waterfalls. It's amazing, no doubt, and wonderful that she was rescued. But she committed a lot of basic mistakes that made her situation worse and may have delayed her rescue. Let's break it down:
Bad move #1: Wander into the woods without so much as a your cell phone. Granted, a cell phone is no guarantee you'll be able to call for help. But it can't hurt to have it on you.
Bad move #2: Follow your "gut instinct" in an attempt to get unlost. This woman ended up wandering 30 miles from where she started, according to the New York Times article.
“I wanted to go back the way I’d come, but my gut was leading me another way — and I have a very strong gut instinct,” she said. “So, I said, my car is this way and I’m just going to keep going until I reach it.”
Basic hiking safety guidelines always tell you to stay put when you are lost. But she was constantly on the move.
Bad move #3: Hike alone, completely unprepared. I would never tell anyone not to hike solo. I've done it dozens of times. But I always bring a backpack full of snacks, extra water, a space blanket, a first aid kit, and a LifeStraw. If you're on your own, you really are on your own, even if you think you'll only be in the woods for an hour.