You Get Lost (Scenario)

Have you ever been lost? Even for just a moment? It’s one of the most unsettling feelings in the world.

It seems like every ‘bad news’ story I read about hikers mentions somewhere that the individual was lost. Even if you’re a day hiker and you think you know your route this is still a very real situation–especially while hiking in the spring when just a few inches of unexpected snow can cover a trail making it easy to lose our way.

Today’s scenario takes us to a scary and often dangerous place…What would you do if you lost your way?


Read Set Discuss!!! We had a great discussion going on last week with our twisted ankle scenario, it’s worth clicking over here in case you missed it.

What would you do if you got lost? Have you ever been list? Chime in below in the comments, on twitterfacebookpinterest or google+. We’ll let you know what we’d do and post a recap on Thursday so stay tuned!

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User Comments

  1. – Stay calm.
    It’s tough to think straight about getting your bearings when freaking out.

    – Stay hydrated.
    Similar to #1, staying hydrated helps your brain work. This is a big reason to keep iodine tabs. It was amazing when we were lost how the friend who wouldn’t drink the iodine water became completely useless.

    – If you’re really lost, fully assess the situation and your supplies.
    When we were lost, our guide failed to mention he had a compass. This one tool would have saved about a half hour of explaining to said guide that the moon rises in the east, the north star is north, and those lights over there are Saratoga, not Laramie. He looked UP at the sky for bearings, so thought based on north that east was west, and west was east.

    – Pay attention to landmarks and roads for reference points.

    – Take a dang map.

    – Don’t climb a mountain in November when the guy says it only takes “a couple hours.”

    • Rebecca |

      Oh. my. gosh. Your guide had a compass and didn’t tell anyone! Please tell me that this guy is no longer in business. People wouldn’t drink treated water…what? Sounds like a pretty crazy adventure though!

      • He was technically just a friend, but the only one who was familiar with the mountains at the time. The guy who wouldn’t drink the treated water – it “tasted funny.” Definitely one crazy 24 hours! Another thing I learned – take your food (aka make your preparations) even if everyone is in the car waiting for you to leave. The experience would have been an entirely different story with some PB&J’s.

  2. Bill Kelly |

    “Lost” is always a relative term. “Lost” could mean that one has no clue about the right direction or could simply mean that getting back to the right place means a great deal of unexpected effort. Except for forays through the new Denver airport, I’ve rarely been in that “I have no idea” situation. Generally, I try to find a way to gather more information as quickly as possible. Sometimes, doing so is a good idea. Other times, doing so doesn’t work as well.

    One of my first “lost” situations was in the mid-80’s after a caving trip. A friend and I had gone into a cave in the evening. We left after darkness had fallen. The cave was up the side of a big hill in East Tennessee. The parking spot was beside a farm house down the road. I’d guess that the route to the cave was a quarter mile walk up a grassy hill and then another half mile walk through the woods. I don’t really remember all of the details. Getting back to the car should have meant walking through the woods, across the pasture, and back to the car.

    Our problem started because walking through unfamiliar woods at night always feels like being lost. We weren’t really lost. We just needed to stay the course patiently. We wouldn’t have backtracked our inward trail exactly, but we would have kept the general direction. Because the darkness made us feel lost, we started trying to compensate.

    We could see open space to our right. The hills back in East Tennessee rarely have ridges as sharply defined as the mountains of Wyoming do. Even so, we could tell that crossing the ridge would bring us to a side of the hill that was all grass. That area was pasture for horses. We thought that the better view that we’d get from the open area would allow us to see the farm house where we parked. When we reached the pasture, we still couldn’t see anything familiar.

    We began walking downhill in hopes that our view would change as the angles changed. We soon reached a fence, and we decided to go one way or the other. We had been surveying in the cave, so I had a compass. I did a bearing check and thought that we should follow the fence line going left. I vaguely believe that my direction would have been northeast. My friend saw the same bearing and said that we should go right.

    Many of my lost stories start with one of a couple of friends whose self-confidence is greater than mine but whose sense of direction is not nearly as good. If we’d gone left as I wanted, we’d have been at the car in five minutes. Going right meant wandering across horse pastures all over the area. We eventually stopped to ask directions at a house. We found the road and walked country roads until we reached the house.

    After thirty-plus years of getting “lost” occasionally, I think the first thing that one should do on finding that one is “lost” is to evaluate whether one is really lost. Do I really not know where I am or am I just not seeing things in the context with which I’m familiar? If I really don’t know where I am, then I need to find more information. That usually means reaching a high spot that will allow me to spot big features and narrow the zone where I want to be. If I’m just not feeling familiar, I usually try to stay the course. Usually, I end up hitting the spots where I want to be with just a little more travel.

    • Rebecca |

      Yes! I can totally relate to your situation with your friend. This is taking me back to my days in the Army but one time on an land navigation (orientation) course at my officer basic course I was teamed up with a super arrogant classmate. He insisted on taking the lead and I backed down and let him. When we got hopelessly lost I identified some power lines on the map that we were close to, figured out where we were and tried to explain it to him but he wouldn’t listen and I wasn’t confident in my own abilities so we didn’t get any of our points. I’m glad you brought that up because a ‘lost’ situation is a good time for better communication.

      Thanks for your comments!

    • YES! Overconfident friends with little sense of direction!

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