Be prepared, get lost, but be safe and happy

Day tripping can be lots of fun, but stats show over 80 per cent of all back country emergencies arise because people are under-equipped.

Day tripping can be lots of fun, but stats show over 80 per cent of all back country emergencies arise because people are under-equipped.

People who only take a granola bar and bottle of water seem to be the first to break a bone, get lost, or suffer from exposure.

It takes less than five pounds of gear to make sure, if you do find yourself in trouble, you can usually ride it out until help arrives or you are able to self rescue yourself.

I’d like to share a story of a lost woman who, while hiking Silver Peak trail with friends, decided she wasn’t up for the climb and advised her mates she’d meet them at the junction trail at the base.

Smart move to acknowledge you’re not physically up to a task, but where she went wrong is when she decided to wander about without a map.

GPS doesn’t work in the vicinity but maps are inexpensive and they don’t malfunction when batteries die and they work in any environment.

She became lost and went to ground, another smart move. The autumn evening temperatures can drop quite drastically in the north and just past 8 p.m., park staff received notice the woman was lost.

Within two hours we were at the lodge, which transported us to the other side of the lake.

We divided into four teams of two with Pete and myself heading towards the junction trail at the base of Silver Peak, the last known location the hiker had been seen. It was pitch black and we stayed to the trails and, about an hour after passing the junction trail, we saw a dim light and heard a voice.

She rode out her ordeal in reasonable comfort because she was prepared.

There are some basic supplies you should carry even for a three-hour hike: a properly fitted backpack, a thermal blanket (bright colour on the inside to use as a marker for aerial searchers), Level 1 first aid kit — those pocket size kits are useless in any sort of serious injury — add some Polysporin, a whistle, waterproof flashlight, gloves, tuque, matches — don’t bother with waterproof matches, just put in a water tight container —, toilet paper, compass, topography map, bear spray and a knife or handsaw.

As for food, lots of nuts in your gorp (trail mix) and for those who are allergic to nuts, try chick peas as they have a better quality of protein and more variety of amino acids.

One of the most important tools is a knife.

If knives intimidate you, try a folding saw, these will be critical if you have to build an emergency shelter or make a splint.

So you can take the basic necessities, get lost and be happy or get lost and be miserable without any means of comfort.

And before heading out let someone know of your plans, because if they don’t know where to look for you, some archeologist will find you many years from now.

Lawrence Woodall is a longtime naturalist who lives in Port McNeill.

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