What do you do if you are twisted up in the woods?

Discussion in 'Outdoor Gear, Survival Equipment & More' started by 22-rimfire, Oct 18, 2019.

  1. Currawong

    Currawong Platinum Member Platinum Member

    May 19, 2012
    That's what drives me as well. It's a worthy mission :thumbsup:
  2. Hard Knocks

    Hard Knocks Gold Member Gold Member

    Oct 1, 2012
    Not an answer to the question, but just some observations learned the hard way.

    -As guys, faced with a situation such as posed by the OP, we have a couple of tendencies. One, we don't want to let anybody down, i.e. we hate the thought of our wives worried all night if we don't get in. And two, there is the tendency to have an ego, such as, we don't want to be embarrassed that our buddies or a search party might have to come and find us because we didn't get ourselves out. Those thoughts are dangerous in the wrong circumstance and can lead to poor decision-making.

    -Everything looks better when you're warm, rested, and have a full belly.

    -Having a fire burning is like having a friend with you.

    -There's nothing out there in the dark that's not already out there in the light.

    tl/dr: Don't be driven by fear or ego...fire, shelter, and food calms you down, clears your head, and helps you not to be driven by fear or ego.
    bigsurbob, Bmurray, taldesta and 2 others like this.
  3. bore


    May 20, 2015
    Yeah maybe. Poor planning. Not saying anything wrong but if you're not able to make it out during daylight. Shit happens. Yes there are things out at night that sleep during daytime. If I had a good idea where I was and where I was going and a good light I'd go home. If not wait for the rescue
  4. hollowdweller


    Sep 22, 2003
    I've never got really lost but I'm a bit dyslexic so there's been times when I'm going and the compass says I'm going right and I'm like "This can't be right" but it turns out ok. One of the best bits of advice Nessmuk: "Don't argue with the compass" Amen. I HAVE got off the path a few times though in areas that the trail is somewhat ambiguous but we knew the topography so we just went by that till we hit the trail again. Wasn't at night.

    When I was in college once we were on a field trip and our professors left one of our friends behind at a state park. He was in the bathroom and despite us saying he was not on there they took off. It was dark. He walked out of the park to near the main road. This was fall so it was cool but not bone chilling. He had a knife, a lighter and some weed so he went back in the woods some from the road and found a nice spot and built a warm fire and got stoned and dozed till morning. He had money and he hitched a ride to the nearest town and got a taxi back to campus (abt 2 hrs) he tried to get the teachers to pay for his taxi since they left him but they refused. That was late 1970's. Nowdays they would probably have been sued or fired.
    Bmurray, mndart and bore like this.
  5. Hard Knocks

    Hard Knocks Gold Member Gold Member

    Oct 1, 2012
    The image in my head of this ^ is cracking me up!!! :D
    jux t and bore like this.
  6. 22-rimfire

    22-rimfire Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 20, 2005
    Kind of a false sense of security.

    I just ordered another small compass that I am going to keep in the small pack I take on hikes. I often do not inventory my pack before grabbing it to use. I have never really had to rely on a compass, but on an overcast day sometimes it is re-assuring to know for sure your directions. I usually start out knowing what direction I am going, so if push comes to shove, I can always rely on the compass to point me in the right direction out if necessary.

    @hollowdweller What kind of a class was that?
  7. Mikel_24


    Sep 19, 2007
    Answering to the OP, I much rather walk out than spend the night there. If I need to spend the night, I would do the best I could with my gear and pray for the best. Headlamp with spare batteries and space blanket is mandatory gear in any pack.

    I read through all posts and I would like to comment about the compass+map thing.

    The compass allows you to align the map properly... but that's about it. Unless you know where you are or have good enough visibility + daylight to locate natural features which may help you (through triangulation, assuming you know how to do it) to find out where you are... you still will not know where you are. Which means, you cannot take any decissions based on that.

    If you are stranded in the middle of the desert AND you know for a fact (or the maps tells you) that there is a road, river, train tracks or powerline runnign in a certain direction (and you are pretty sure that you are north/south/east/west of that particular "line" you could use the compass to make sure you walk in a straight line and find that reference. However, this only works in areas that allow you to walk in a semi-straight line. The mountains and forest areas are not like that. Terrain dictates where you can go.

    It is important to know the basics but today, with so many handheld GPS devices meant for the outdoor, it is irresponsible not to use one when going into unknown terrain. And I reffer specifically to handheld GPS devices because using the phone for this particular use is akin to having all the eggs in the same basket. Phones are usually not as rugged as dedicated GPS devices, they eat up their battery much faster (and usually cannot be replaced on the spot, you need a battery bank), etc.

    The GPS will tell you exactly where you are, even if you don't have any maps on it. And if you set it for tracking, it will store your way in from the starting point (line of dots taken each x seconds or every time you change your possition x meters). Some devices have a trackback feature, that allows you to go back over your steps (you don't even need a map for this). If it doesn't have it (I never use it), you just have to walk making sure to check the screen of the device often. If you are walking in trails, it is easy. If you are walking off trails it gets trickier. You need to be carefull when skiing or snowshoeing, because even if the tracks are visible, the track you made when going uphill might not be the most efficient/desired track to go downhill (tracing Z's uphill VS going down in semi straight line). Other than that, you are golden.

    You can even take it one step further and download some tracks for free from Wikiloc in advance (from people who have done that route before and were so kind to upload them), check them in your computer and upload them to your device. This will let you reach peaks, huts, whatever even if you have never been there, with the worst visibility and while pitch black. Just follow the line (with common sense, of course).

    I am not a full time pro climber, so I don't have time to waste one day investigating the aproach and retreat routes to my desired climbs. When I have the time, the conditions are good and my partner is motivated enough, I want to CLIMB.

    Winter climbing (ice/snow) call for early starts (as 3am early I mean, even 00:30 in the Alps in spring/summer) to make sure the ice conditions are still good by the time you end up your climb and hike back to your car (this is not Alaska or Canada where the temps stay below freezing even in the sun for the whole day). If the snow/ice melts, rocks and ice start to fall, bad bad news. So, what do I do? I download a few tracks for that climb (or another one that I know share the approach route), dump them all at the same time in the PC, make sure they are all pretty much the same (do not rely on a single source) and then creat a single track. GPS software allows you to split and merge the tracks from different files. Maybe I use the approach from one file and the way back from another one. Then I load it in the GPS. And off I go.

    For someone who just goes for a walk in the hills this might be overkill, but even if you don't download anything from Wikiloc, you could benefit from having the GPS device loaded with the maps of that area. They also give you information about water sources, huts, natural features, trails, etc. And if you screw up bad and need to navigate unknown terrain, it will let you know (through the elevation lines) if you are about to drop of a cliff or you are walking on flat terrain.

    Summary, get a GPS, a headlamp and spare batteries for both. Space blanket also never hurts. I use an old (but fully functional) Garming GPSMap 62cs and Led Lenser H7.2R.

    batosai117, bore and RayseM like this.
  8. Mannlicher


    Nov 19, 2008
    I can't imagine being confused or lost in the woods. In some 65+ years of mucking around in the swamps, forests and prairies of Florida, I have yet to find myself in that position,
    mewolf1 likes this.
  9. schwep


    Jan 4, 2017
    I do agree that these days a GPS is an obvious tool. Along with a map and compass. I use a Garmin 60 csx for ballooning and did for hiking, but my present phone is a better gps. It gets a fix onside my home (using just the gps receiver) whereas the garmin can not. It captures gps and glonass and I loaded it with ViewRanger hiking map software and a dirt cheap subscription to all topo maps of the national topo service, downloadable for offline use. Giving me all scales down to 1:25.000. With the maps stored on sd card it is a very good gps receiver that also happens to be a phone. I'm also pretty sure to have it on me during some non planned event. The Garmin eats AA cells as fast or worse as the phone its battery. But note that Android 8 and after save energy way better than older versions. As for ruggedness, I use a Crosscall ruggedized phone anyway. You can swim with it and probably throw it across the room. As a phone it is mediocre (apart from great reception of everything), as a GPS it is great. As everyone has a phone, I'd say at least load it with offline maps. You can get decent ones for free, even.
    Ultimately, if you go deep into the wild, bring a PLB emergency beacon. Activate it in case of real trouble and the rescue helo arrives before you know it. ;-)
    I got temporarily lost a few times in the past before gps. A map, compass and triangulation do work to get unlost if you have visibility. Always carry the analog option as well...
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2019
  10. Mikel_24


    Sep 19, 2007
    My sister and me bought one for my Dad two years ago. The device is the SPOT GEN3 and gives us peace of mind when he goes hiking alone in the Pirinees for a few days in a row (from hut to hut). He preffers to go with someone, but not having a suitable partner (he is retired already, I cannot join him) he is pretty well set with GPS+Phone+SPOT. We can track his progression on the internet (logs the position every 5 minutes, configurable).

  11. mndart

    mndart Gold Member Gold Member

    Apr 16, 2004
    Same as you. Get a fire going and try to relax.

    I do carry pack in my truck. When I am out and going off the trail I have the basics in the pack that can keep me warm and dry, a little trail food and clean water, a compass and map to help me head back in the right direction. When I have gotten a bit turned, the cell phone if often useless so I picked up a cheap-o garmin etrak.

    It is a few extra pounds to carry, but good to have when you plan on exploring a bit.
  12. ikuyadas


    Mar 23, 2010
    Your question suggests a critical situation for me that is without tents, sleeping bags, foods and I have to spend at least one night. I think such a situation would happen at dayhike in my case and it would be much more severe in winter. When I go to unfamiliar area, I always carry a IP68 headlump, Katadyn BeFree, GPS Smartphones and bettery charger, 50-125cm 5mm-thick mat, 7inch blade and saw-equpped SAK in my dayhike backpack, but such a "lucking a tent" situation is obviously nightmare for me. I've ever got lost few times but I did not injured and could get back at that time, so I think that lightweight zelt and SOL emergency sheet and more of first aid kit must be added to my dayhike setup. Thank you.
  13. 22-rimfire

    22-rimfire Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 20, 2005
    It is the long day hikes that will get you. Basically you can run out of time to get back out if you dawdle too much as I do looking for plants and potential scenic spots. You don't normally take a lot of emergency equipment with you other than perhaps the basics. But it doesn't happen often if you plan you distances (hiking time).
  14. Mikel_24


    Sep 19, 2007
    Las weekend I went ice/rock climbing with another three friends. That area is quite far and I haf been there only once like 21 years ago in summer with my parents and sister. One of the oyher coleagues is pretty much local to that area.

    Drove there on friday, slept on the van and took off arround 06:15. Pitch dark, snowing, strong wind, etc. You couldn't tell up from down. And the headlams has the same effect as high beams in the fog, you could obly see a white wall 3 feet in front of you.

    Trail to the hut we were going to sleep in was marked with 2feet wooden posts. We only saw them every once in a while. We all wore snowshoes and even though we sank more than knee high often. No previous tracks at all.

    Local guy was unable to locate himself so from the very beginning we relied on the GPS track I downloaded into my GPS device... It is sooooo easy to take the wrong general direction or steer away from your intended bearing.

    It usually takes between 2h - 2h30' to get to the mountain hut. It took us arround 4h. 3 of them with my eyes stuck to the GPS screen.

    We were going IN and the weather improved as the weekend went by (as forecasted), but had this happened on the way BACK and with the weather turbing worse... And I can only think of the GPS of a reliable way to get back to the car.

    batosai117 likes this.
  15. Velitrius

    Velitrius Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 3, 2000
    I enjoyed that article. I am going to add a Cup O' Coffee component to my BOB now.

    @Currawong those are beautiful photos of some beautiful territory. Whereabouts?
  16. Currawong

    Currawong Platinum Member Platinum Member

    May 19, 2012
    Monga National Park in New South Wales, Australia.

    That whole area burnt during the recent bushfires and a lot of it looks like this now

    Though some of it survived
  17. Andrew Reeves

    Andrew Reeves

    Jan 19, 2020
    Obviously i use offline map from my phone
  18. 22-rimfire

    22-rimfire Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 20, 2005
    That's sad. Nature's way....

Share This Page