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October 2006

Lost: True Tales of Wilderness Treks Gone Desperately Wrong

From snowblindness to wrong turns, everyday wilderness adventures can turn ugly if you're not prepared for everything.


1. Be conservative
“Robert should not have let his son’s enthusiasm override his cautious instincts,” says Crouch. “Retreat is always an option up until the point that you lose control.”

2. Break the Chain
“One mistake seldom gets someone into serious trouble. Chains of mistakes do that. The Perkinses should have aborted at the first complication; they shouldn’t have continued to the top in a grayout,” says Crouch. “By the time they made their navigation error, their late start meant not enough daylight to fix it.”

3. Put yourself on the map
“If they could have found their location on the map ‘by inspection’–using major land features–they might have seen their bivouac was only about two kilometers from the well-traveled Green Lakes Trail,” says Speik.

4. Bring the right tools
“A GPS and USGS quad would have overruled the maladjusted compass and saved the day for these adventurers and 40 volunteers,” says Speik.

5. Don’t be overconfident
“Despite their experience, the Perkinses walked about 10 miles in what was obviously the wrong direction before coming out at the wrong trailhead,” says Hill. Make it a habit to double-check your route.

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