Despite all your preparations, planning your route, knowing how to use a map and compass it still happened – you’re lost! So, now what should you do? Following some simple guidelines will greatly improve your chances of being rescued rather than recovered.
The Number One tool needed for survival when you are lost or injured in the wilds is to stay positive. When you panic or lose hope, the situation only becomes worse.
Of course you should always leave your hiking plan and expected return time with someone who can report you missing if you do not check in with them upon your return.
STOP As soon as you realize you may be lost, stop and stay calm. Do not worry about what got you to this point – all you can do now is solve the problem of getting out of the situation. The further you walk, the longer it will take rescuers to find you. If you don’t know where you are, walking further may take you into the wrong direction. Sit down, take a drink of water, eat a snack, and relax while you think things over.
THINK Go over in your mind how you got to where you are. Look for landmarks? Were you heading North or West? Do not move until you are sure of your next step.
OBSERVE Get out your compass and determine the direction. Using your map and the general area where you are, identify visible landmarks. This step is often enough to get re-oriented. Estimate how much light is left. Check out the weather. Check your water. Ask how the other hikers are doing.
PLAN Come up with some possible plans. Prioritize the needs of your group. If you are confident that you have determined the way to go and have time before dark to reach a known spot, such as the marked trail on your map, then go, marking your route with kairns.