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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. Don’t play the victim
There’s a word for a novice hiker attempting a highly ambitious solo trek, sans compass, with only a photocopied map, cautions Hill: pre-victim.

2. Track your progress
“Black appears not to have done any navigation on the way to his first camp, since he was following a trail,” says Davis. “Continuously plot your location on the map, even when hiking on trails.”

3. Get the big picture
“Maps printed from mapping software [on 8.5″x11″ paper] may not show the whole picture of the area that you are going to be in,” says Davis. Always get detailed topos.

4. Weatherproof your maps
A map double-bagged in a pair of gallon-size zipper-lock bags is every bit as waterproof as a map case, advises Crouch.

5. Don’t budge
“Stay put until help arrives,” says Davis. “During a search, the first place crews look is the route that the person is supposed to be on.”

6. Keep your head
“Fear negatively affects problem-solving by reducing the number of options we can consider, and hypothermia impacts our ability to assess the quality of the decisions we make,” says Hill. Hence Black’s irrational attempt to traverse a glacier.

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