7 Tips In Case You Get Lost While Hiking

lost, hiking

Where is the trail?  Photo via Flickr.

You may get lost sometime no matter how much you prepare.  Anyone that spends much time exploring the Rocky Mountains with their family needs to know these tips.

Before I had kids I loved exploring the Rocky Mountains on long trails and definitely got lost a couple of times.  Fortunately for me, I was never lost for long and always found the trail again.  Now that I explore the mountains with my kids I want to make sure they are safe and know what to do just in case they get lost.

Before You Go On The Hike

Tell someone where you are going.  This is important in case you get lost.  This could mean telling a friend or you can leave a note in your car.  Many trail heads have a register where you can put your name, number in your group, destination, and when you expect to return.

lost, emergency kit

A whistle and emergency kit are must bring items when hiking.

Have a map and emergency kit.  As I talked about in the items that you should always bring on a hike, you need these.  The map and compass will help you find your way if you get lost.  The emergency kit may come in handy.

7 Tips If You Get Lost While Hiking

Follow the STOP rule – STOP, THINK, OBSERVE, and PLAN.

STOP – The first thing you need to do as soon as you know you are lost is stop.  Do not keep moving or try to go back to the trail as that may only make you more lost.  Just stop moving.  Try to keep yourself calm and relax while you have a sip of water and snack.

THINK – Take some time to think about your situation.  What landmarks could you see the last time you knew where you were?  Is there a river?  Mountain peak?  Do you know which direction you were heading, north or south?

lost, hiking

Take time to observe your surroundings? What do you see?  Photo via Flickr.

OBSERVE – Now that you have thought about your situation, take some time to look around where you are.  What landmarks do you see?  Can you see those landmarks on the map?  How high is the sun in the sky?  How long until the sunsets?  Do you have much food, water, and other supplies? How long will they last you?

PLAN – Now that you have taken some time to calm yourself down and orient yourself it is time to come up with a plan.  Think of some possible plans and then act on the best one.  If you are in a group, brainstorm plans and decide together which is best.

Stay together as a group!   Do not let one adult go wandering off while the other one stays with the kids or the rest of the adults.  That will only lead to confusion as the one person may get lost alone.

Use your whistle (another one of the must bring items on a hike).  Blow three short blasts of the whistle, which will let others know that you are lost.

Use your cell phone.  Hopefully, you fully charged your cell phone before hiking and you have coverage.  You can try and call someone to let them know you are lost.  They may be able to put you in touch with someone that can help you find your way back out safely.

Hopefully, if you stay together as a group and follow your plan you will safely make it back to the trail and know where you are.  Or maybe someone will hear your whistle or you will be able to get in touch with someone via your cell phone.

All parents need to make sure they know these tips and teach them to their children if they enjoy exploring the Rocky Mountains.