Figuring out what to do when you get lost on a hike is never fun. It’s one of those things that just make you go “dang-it!” Sometimes you can even feel pretty dumb when you get lost. Don’t put yourself down about it though.
There’s no need for that. Many people get lost every day and find their way back. Honestly, getting lost could actually teach you some vital life lessons! So figuring out what to do when you get lost on a hike might actually be good for you!
Not to say that you should go and get lost on purpose, but life is always surprising and unpredictable. One thing that you might think is good for you might be bad and visa versa. Something that you think is terrible for you might actually be good for you.
Anyway, the basis of what we’re saying is not to get yourself down if you become lost accidentally. Look at it as a life lesson instead of something terrible. You know the saying – “life is what you make it, so make it good!” Here are some things that you can do when you get lost on a hike.
Positive thinking is a HUGE helping factor and a valuable asset when you get into a situation where you are totally lost. If you start to think negatively and start to freak out, you won’t be thinking clearly. So, do your best to calm down and assess your situation A.S.A.P.
Assess Your Surroundings:
Once you have calmed down and are thinking as clear as you can be in a situation like this. Begin assessing your situation. Think about the last time that you knew where you were.
You might not have to go very far, you never know. You could be on this other side of a complex of some sort of civilization. There might even only be a tree line in your way. Look everywhere you can and see if you recognize anything. You could be closer to safety than you think!
Use A Compass And/Or Map:
If you have a map, a compass, or both. Now is the time to be using this valuable tool. It’s crazy just how valuable a compass and/or map can be when you get lost! If you don’t have a compass, but you have some kind of mobile device. Then you can use its built-in compass and map!
Most mobile devices have these tools built into them for this very purpose. Obviously, if your phone is not dead and you have any service, call 911 immediately! We’re assuming that your cell service is not in range, otherwise, you probably don’t need any help at all because help will already be on its way.
Look For High Ground:
High ground is a very valuable asset when you get lost. When you’ve found some high ground, then you will be able to see any possible civilization. Look around for landmarks and things that you can recognize. You might see something that could lead you back to civilization.
Landmarks are any large object or place that are close to civilization. Such as the top of a pizza place or a taco bell sign. Or maybe even a billboard or road sign. Like we mentioned before, you could be closer than you think, so look for anything that could possibly lead you back to civilization.
Follow The Light:
If you are still lost at the end of the day, just relax for a little. Give yourself a little time to relax. [This may not help, but here are the facts – You can survive for 5-10 days without causing injury to yourself from starvation and about 2-4 days without water. So you’re not going to die because you get lost for a day].
Wait until it gets a little darker out, and then find high ground. You’ll be able to clearly see ANY civilization in your area. If there is any place of refuge or safety in your area, you are highly likely to see it at night when light are on. May people say that it is actually easier to spot safety at night versus the day because the lights make the object a focal point. Meaning easily determinable.
If all else fails. You still don’t want to start panicking, but you do need to start thinking about your survival. If you cannot find help or find your way back. Start building a shelter or look for a nearby cave, etc. Look for food, water, etc. Hopefully, you won’t have to be in a detrimental survival situation, but as we mentioned before, life is surprising. For some awesome survival advice, check out nwtf.org!
You’ll also want to think about signaling to help. There are a lot of ways to go about signaling help. You can use any shiny object you have on your person. You can use things like flares a or a flare gun if you have one on you. For more on signaling for help, check out our post here – 10 ways to signal help if you get lost.
We hope that this article has been fun to read and has helped you gain a better understanding of what to do when you get lost on a hike! Did you learn something new from this article? Let us know if you did in the comment section! We’d love to hear from you! If you enjoyed reading this, show us some love and share it!