How to Avoid Calling SAR
Every year thousands of people call for help from the wilderness. Actually, some of them even call from closer than that. Want to avoid the problems that are most likely to get you in trouble? Here they are:
> Stay found. Take a map and know how to use it. Take a GPS and know how to use it. Check your progress against the map at every trail junction, steam crossing, or major landmark. You always want to be able to say with some certainty where you are, where you came from, and where you are going. If you don't know one of those things, you can be in trouble. The best way to avoid getting lost is to stay found. The photo below was taken at the trailhead...and used as a map during our hike. Can't be any easier than that. But don't count on the trailhead map--bring your own!
> Stay on the trail. Yes, we hike off-trail. But if you want to be found, stay on the trail. There is a reason that trails don't short-cut across that slope, or through that valley, or cross that river. Thousands of people have hiked the trail over the years, and have chosen the best and safest route. If you do hike cross-country (and we often do on our trips) make dead sure that you are in compliance with the section above, about staying found.
> Stay out of the water. It kills people every year. Every year the park service warns people about getting into the water, and every year people ignore that warning and die. Go figure.
> Stay away from the edge…Same story here. Every year the National Parks warn every visitor about this. Every year people fall off cliffs and die.
> Stay away from wildlife. Yep--same thing here. We've all seen the videos. Don' t be the idiot in the video.
> Take the right gear. You’ve got your list of ten (we usually try to take about thirteen…)
Most importantly, take food and water, take the right clothes to be comfortable EVEN IF THE WEATHER CHANGES. Hypothermia affects not only your body, but also you mind. It confuses you and makes you stupid. Then you do stupid things. Stay warm.
> Speaking of food and water, dehydration is another thing that not only affects your body, but also makes you stupid. Drink water and eat food to stay smart.
> Take a friend. Hiking with two people can solve a lot of problems that might otherwise be an emergency. And two heads are better than one, especially if one is dehydrated, hypothermic, or just plain naturally stupid.
And we've included this sign from New Zealand, because we think it takes just the right approach. But sure to read all the way to the end!