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Survival / Lost, what would you do?

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Re: Survival / Lost, what would you do?

Postby maverick » Mon May 23, 2016 12:32 pm

Sambieni wrote:
One thing curious about - why do you recommend back country shelter/blanket? If you're trekking, I would assume you would have a pack w a tent/tarp and sleeping bag already. Why the extra item? Seems superfluous. I could see the need in a daypack where you're intending to return after a few hours.


When basecamping in the backcountry and then going on a day hike, one should always carry some survival gear with themselves in case you get injured or lost, instead of carrying your sleeping bag the space blanket (3 oz) can save weight, and yes, it should be part of a day hikers essentials gear too.
I don't give out specific route information, my belief is that it takes away from the whole adventure spirit of a trip, if you need every inch planned out, you'll have to get that from someone else.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org



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Re: Survival / Lost, what would you do?

Postby maverick » Mon May 23, 2016 2:10 pm

Tomba wrote:
The first priority would be to stay warm and dry. If it rains I would be in big trouble. Typically in such area there are no places to hide from rain. Down jacket would become almost useless when wet. Even if I had my rain jacket, it would be impossible to keep all of me dry. Would poncho be better in such case?


Personally I always have a pancho, it works as rain gear and shelter, and weighs only 10 oz. A space blanket should be included as part of your day hike or climb gear, you never know when you could be forced to spend a night or more away from you camp. A fire start kit, mine consists of some cotton balls dipped in vaseline in a old film canister, should be with you too. Some type of water purification is also part on my kit.


The next priority would be water. I hope I would be able to crawl to my pack. It could take perhaps 2 or 3 days. If the days are sunny, windless, and hot I would have to minimize sweating. Perhaps crawl at night? I could occasionally use the phone as a flashlight. If there is an obstacle I can't crawl around my situation would be dire.


Headlamp is consider one of the essentials, and should be with you any extended time you will be away from your basecamp. Also have an exit/emergency plan already planned oiut in case you get injured. Know should know where all the popular trails are relative to you location, know where and how far your nearest water source is from your intended day hikes or climbing goals for that day, before starting. Also pay attention to your terrain, memorize firewood locations along the way, so in case of an emergency, you do not have to waste precious time looking for some.



After a few days it would become apparent that SPOT didn't work. Starting with day 11, every 2 hours on the hour during waking hours I would turn on the phone for 5-10 minutes, with airplane mode off. I wouldn't keep it on all the time, in order to conserve power. I don't know whether rescuers have equipment to track cell phone signal.


Ranger and HST member George Durkee had mention that there was such newer technology, possibly military, that could be used, but he will have to clarify this.



The most vulnerable time for me seems to be when I am separated from the pack that has my rain shelter, sleeping bag, and water. There is only so much stuff that I can take with me in my pockets, hanging from my belt, and tied around my waist. It would help if I took with me the rain fly, more warm clothes, and 0.5L water bottle. What's a good way to pack that without adding much weight? A separate day pack would be too heavy. Perhaps a stuff sack with some straps sewn in? Any ideas? Another option is to have the main pack with removable hip belt and removable aluminum stays (e.g., Zimmer Packs).


Some packs have detachable top parts that can be used for daypacks, I just use my pack a Osprey 58, now a ZPack Arc, the weight is minimal, so taking it along is not big deal.


Is poncho a better emergency protection than a rain jacket?


Have used it in pretty bad weather, if the weather is really stormy it works better combine with some rain pants, but can be difficult to manage in very windy conditions, and not the best in bushwacking conditions either, so it really depends on the circumstances. A small tarp combine with some rain gear may be a better solution in some cases.
I don't give out specific route information, my belief is that it takes away from the whole adventure spirit of a trip, if you need every inch planned out, you'll have to get that from someone else.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org
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Re: Survival / Lost, what would you do?

Postby rlown » Mon May 23, 2016 5:36 pm

I would really appreciate some of those that are somewhat new to backpacking to say how they prepare and what they would do in the scenarios, or at least mention how they pack/prepare for their trip. We won't pick it apart.. Mav might. If you want suggestions on how to improve your approach, just say so at the end of your post. If you don't, say that as well.

Posting on this thread helps everyone, except us old farts. Hey, we still learn new tricks from time to time as well. ;)
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Re: Survival / Lost, what would you do?

Postby Wandering Daisy » Mon May 23, 2016 7:53 pm

First I will answer the up-front questions.

Allergies - yes, always have Benydrl- this works for all my allergies

shelter - always when backpacking - minimum a bivy sack, most of the time tent, always an appropriate sleeping bag

shelter when day-hiking - enough clothing and outer layer that is water/wind proof. I have done many overnight bivouacs with a minimal clothing to a bivy sack, w/o sleeping bag, in many conditions, so I am quite aware of what I need. Used to do mountaineering, and getting stuck on a climb was not common, but did this more than a dozen times, some quite dramatic, most with a group or at least one other person, a few solo.

purify water w/o filter -- I often do not take any kind of water purification means. I have chlorine dioxide tablets always with me, but often do not use them. I have sipped directly out of streams my whole life with no problems. And, if in a survival situation, bad water is the least of my concerns.

plant and insect identification for food - yes, but this is not a practical way to survive. You end up expanding more energy than you get in many situations. Better to have fishing gear!

Fire starter -yes, and yes I can build a fire with wet wood - done this a million times. In the old days we did not even use stoves - had to build fires in all conditions just to eat. But, be aware that gathering wood and building a fire is not always practical or even possible if you are injured. Better to just get snug in the sleeping bag and tent.

Navigate w/o a compass. This is my normal way of navigation. I dumped the compass 10 years ago and no problem. I always take the best map (most detailed) available and coverage that far exceeds my exact path. Do not use a GPS.

I admit I do get anxious when lost, but never true "panic". Luckily I have never been seriously injured, but have people in my group hurt enough that I had to go out and get a helicopter evacuation for them.

As for the two scenarios, I will have to think about them, because, honestly, I am never unprepared. I have been hurt, sprained ankle. I just soaked it in cold water, wrapped it and then walked out 8 hours. I have been more seriously hurt, but in a larger group, so my buddies helped me out. I have been lost many times, but always found myself, and it mostly worried others, not me. I have had survival training, and have done two 50-mile walk-outs without food. I think a big factor is knowing when to move, and when to hunker down, good judgement due to lots of experience.

My advise to newbies, is to not go solo until you get more experience. I climbed and backpacked 25 years before I ever went solo.
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Re: Survival / Lost, what would you do?

Postby Hobbes » Tue May 24, 2016 5:54 am

Wandering Daisy wrote:I often do not take any kind of water purification means. I have chlorine dioxide tablets always with me, but often do not use them. I have sipped directly out of streams my whole life with no problems. Navigate w/o a compass. This is my normal way of navigation. I dumped the compass 10 years ago and no problem. I always take the best map (most detailed) available and coverage that far exceeds my exact path. Do not use a GPS.


Gee, it's like a confessional where once once person admits their "sins", the floodgates open and others follow suit. Where do I begin?

I can't remember the last time I filtered water - too many years ago. I too take chlorine tablets (http://www.potableaqua.com/history/), but rarely use them. As you mention, I just dip & drink while on the go. And it doesn't have to be running water either; Bob Rockwell believes standing water is actually safer due to UV rays: (http://www.hikelight.com/18ultralightba ... tment.html)

Likewise with compass - I have good orienting ability and always seem to know where I am, so I never bring one. However, I of course bring a map(s). In fact, I'm a bit of hard copy map nut - and it has to be the 1:24k maps. I like nothing better than laying around intently studying my maps.

As for being equipped, while my younger brother and I have completely opposite styles (he never takes a 'good' map, never plans a detailed trip, hikes shorter miles, likes off trail wandering - no, he's not Rogue, but shares a lot of traits), one thing I did pick up from him is to always take your pack. That is, even if you think you're going to base camp, if you take your pack/gear, you **don't** have to return if you don't want to. (On a summit, he'll drop it slightly before, so there is that 'danger' aspect.)

Since it provides the most flexibility, it of course also provides the greatest safety in terms of having all your stuff with you. The downside - in his case - is there isn't really an itinerary (paging Mark). In my case, it's way overkill with very detailed plans, a DeLorme and periodic 2-way communication ie just cleared a pass, having lunch, stopping here for the night, etc.

As an aside, since I mention my brother now & then, can you tell the one from LA, and the other who stayed norte?

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Re: Survival / Lost, what would you do?

Postby sambieni » Tue May 24, 2016 7:51 am

Wandering Daisy wrote:First I will answer the up-front questions.

My advise to newbies, is to not go solo until you get more experience. I climbed and backpacked 25 years before I ever went solo.


Guess depends on how define newbies. First backpack ever, for sure. But unfortunately, its not always feasible to get a group together for a trip and well, you really are itching to go. Speaking for myself, I have a solo out of Red Meadows or Devils Post Pile over July 4th for a few days. I would prefer a group, but just can't make it happen. I've backpacked handful of times in my life, just never in Sierras. I really only stay on trail and no xcountry. So just going to trust things will be great. And always have proper rain / warm gear, map, headlamp, etc. I hear your thoughts. Just sadly, not always feasible.
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Re: Survival / Lost, what would you do?

Postby Wandering Daisy » Tue May 24, 2016 8:07 am

I probably should qualify that statement. I never really "backpacked" the first 25 years - I climbed - mountaineering and rock climbing. In most cases, you NEEDED a partner to make this happen. Mountaineering is mostly off-trail, so never did all-trail hiking. And back in the 60's and 70's there were many active organized outdoor groups. Every college had an "outing club". Many towns had their own "mountaineering club". Boy scouts were very common and active.

I have seen a demise of these groups, I think, mostly as a result of liability issues. And with the internet, now information for backpacking (be aware that some information on the internet purposes very unsafe routes and practices) is much more readily available to anyone. And with the GPS, you do not even have to learn orienteering to go out. What you are missing, though, is a mentor who can really help you learn the tricks of the trade. You certainly can be "self-taught", but like all sports, getting some good training gets you to a higher level sooner.

By the way, I do not consider walking on a popular highly maintained trail as true "solo" hiking. You are just one of an unorganized "group" on the same path. There is help available, although not immediate. Agreed, a solo newbie is fairly safe in this case.
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Re: Survival / Lost, what would you do?

Postby sambieni » Tue May 24, 2016 8:17 am

Agree w the mentor bit. Its a wise point. I always find myself asking questions/learning a lot from other folks I see in camp, etc when I go out on the trail. There are still a wide variety of groups, but maybe not as widespread as you indicate was historically so. Given rise of so many gear stores and the industry at large - most folks really would turn to their social network/friends for an outing and less likely need to rely on a group to outfit them and help them.

I think you're view of "unorganized group" on the same path is how I think of it too. If something happens, most likely, will be likely max 12-18 hours w/out seeing another person. Unless its a mauling by bear or falling down a cliff side 30 feet or more, etc, most scenarios would be totally fine for average person to last that long until discovered.
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Re: Survival / Lost, what would you do?

Postby shuteye » Wed May 25, 2016 7:46 am

GPS COMPASS MAP

I am so far outclassed by the amount of experience here at HST, but I'd like to make a point in logic that seems overlooked.

Backpacking is a game just like climbing. Both sports have very real meaning for their participants, but they are still games. And the rules of the game are always a matter of contention and debate. To bolt or not to bolt. Compass or no compass. Choosing what you bring with you on a backpacking trip is your way of establishing the rules of your game.

That there is a bare minimum of knowledge and experience for different levels of challenge almost goes without saying: A prepared climber knows how to set an anchor and escape the belay. A prepared backpacker can orient a map without a compass. Going into the wilderness without a compass is an expression of a backpacker's style just as not clipping a bolt, when there is good natural pro available, is an expression of a rock climber's style.

Both sports are especially dangerous when a novice participant adopts the style of an expert.

Now here is my point: When I go into the woods I always bring a map, a compass, and a gps. I use the map often, I sometimes use the compass, I rarely use the gps. But I like having it—it's light.

I know how to use all three, but the fact is that a gps, if its batteries are charged, is a much faster tool at navigation—especially if you are lost. And as the saying goes: Speed in the mountains is safety. A gps works in the dark, in fog, in a whiteout, and if you have programmed waypoints into it, a gps can take you back to your car. A map and compass do none of these things.

I am NOT saying that anyone should carry a gps only. I am saying that deciding not to bring a gps into the wilderness is a matter of style—not safety. If one knows how to use all three tools: map, compass, gps—each tool adds a layer of safety, including the gps.
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Re: Survival / Lost, what would you do?

Postby Brien » Wed May 25, 2016 9:27 am

This is certainly an appropriate thread after the recent S&R at Loch Levin. With summer almost here there will probably be more such stories in the news. Unfortunately, many on here are not the ones who need to be better informed about going out into the wilderness unprepared.

When I look at the two scenarios Mav posted I don't think I would ever fall into either. In scenario 1, I would never hike to that elevation by myself and I have never gone into the woods without leaving an itinerary and ETA with my wife. Such a simple task that is so crucial. In the second scenario I would NEVER cross a fast moving creek by myself let alone do it close to dusk. This would have been one of those situations where I would have sat on the bank and thought about the situation and what the best course of action would be. I wouldn't be thinking I could make it, I would be thinking what's going to happen if I fall in.

In my personal life I'm a prepper, not an extremist like on Doomsday Preppers, but more in moderation. A lot of what I preach about prepping isn't so much what you have but what you will do. I often refer to prepping as a thinking man's game. You have to be able to evaluate your situation and course of action. Planning and knowing your limits is essential in doing this.

This prepping mindset carries over to everything in my life, be it work, home life and going on adventures into the woods. I only do a handful of trips a year so I have time to plan for each trip. I have a core packing list that is modified for each trip. Every trip calls for different supplies and equipment. There are always those emergency items and redundancy for things like fire making supplies. And I would NEVER rely on my cell phone alone for my map or compass.

I guess if I were lost of injured I'd ask myself the following questions...

Am I on my itinerary and if not how do I get to where I was known to go
If I know my location can I navigate to a trailhead or road
What's my food and water supply like, is there water nearby to refill
Is wet weather or windy weather coming in
Am I dry and able to stay warm
If unable to get out is there a clearing nearby to signal for help
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