Tuesday, June 04, 2013

A Cautionary Tale

This is a very interesting cautionary tale about the dangers of hiking in the woods unprepared.  It is by the 404 podcast.  It is not about geocaching, but I bet there is not a serious geocacher out there who the lessons in this story do not apply to at some point in time.

If you are not a geocacher, this is still an interesting tale of a pair of city slickers alone in the woods at night.

Some of the lessons I learned (and not covered in the podcast) are:
  • Bring extra batteries.  I always carry two sets of batteries for all my devices. In the grand scheme of things, a few extra AA and AAA batteries are light.  I don't even notice them. My water bottle is 2x heavier than any batteries I carry. Heck the pack itself is probably 2x heavier.
  • If you have the option, grab a trail map.  If not, take a photo of one.
  • Never leave the trail unless you have a good reason, and always return to it as soon as you can.
  • Record your route.  They would have had a lot fewer problems getting back to the trail if they had recorded their route.
  • Bring a dedicated GPSr. So many smart phones lose a lot of their usefulness when signal goes away  - compasses on the iPhone for example (at least in this case).  Dedicated GPSrs are rugged, batteries last a lot longer, and are much more easily replaceable.
  • Not sure if taking photos with flash is the best way to conserve battery :)
  • Sticking his flashlight in his hat was questionable move.  Luckily he didn't drop it.  Keep things you cannot lose attached to you (in your pack secured so its not going to drop off your shoulder accidentally), or on a securely attached lanyard.  While you are at it, bring more than one flashlight (and ensure you have enough extra batteries for both)
  • Bring a real magnetic compass, and KNOW both how to use it, and which direction safety is located.
  • Tell people where you are going, and when you are expected back.
  • Bring extra food and water.
There are, of course, many other survival techniques. This just covers the mistakes this couple made.  I would also bring a knife, and a way to make fire, for starters. 

Hope you found this interesting (at least), and, if you hike, or go into the woods for any reason (say finding tupperware containers....) you've learned some things that will ensure you get back out alive and well.

Do you have other survival techniques?  If so drop them in the comments below.