Recently I was told a story about a woman getting lost on a nearby walking and biking trail while hiking with her daughter. Her daughter got distracted off the trail and her mom went after her. By the time mom got done with all the twists and turns of chasing her daughter who was chasing the butterflies, mom lost track of where the trail was. She didn’t know she was only within 75 yards of the trail, and most importantly, safety.
This is very common whether you’re on a simple hike, mission trip or jungle trek. How do you keep your senses and get back to the trail? Many times it is simply not realistic to know which direction to go. In most rescue situations the people were very close to where they needed to be.
These 4 invaluable tips can save your life if you need to find your way back.
1) Mark where you are
Marking can be as simple as dragging your foot in the dirt or leaves. You can also gather loose rocks or branches. It takes very little energy and no supplies.
2) Mark as you travel
Go out a short distance marking as you go. This will help you so if you need to, you can turn around and follow your markings back to where you started.
3) Go back to the beginning
If you don’t find where you were trying to go, then go back to the beginning and try again in other directions, marking as you go.
Continue this pattern until find the trail again to safety.
If you follow these steps, your paths will look similar to bicycle spokes and a wheel, with the center being the location started at and somewhere on the outer edge of that bicycle wheel is the objective you’re trying to find. We teach children to drag their feet –marking lines as they walk and then following them back. If it is raining or there is a problem with the ground, you can break branches, plants or something, the important things is to know how to get back to where you started.
My daughter keeps a tiny roll of survey ribbon to hang and knows to make arrows on the ground, or out of sticks or rocks to show which direction she went. You can purchase biodegradable tape here.
This is absolutely important! – Never go off into the woods, even on a simple hike, without letting somebody know where you’re going and when you expect to be back.
When I go out with my daughter on our WaveRunner, my wife always asks when I expect to be back. If I’m not back by the time I give her, she can get help to find out what happened.
We teach these and dozens of other life-saving survival skills in our Survival Training Class. Our Omega certified instructors are taught to constantly train and reinforce with hands-on so that your reactions become natural. Always train to be prepared with natural reaction and keep it safe.