There’s a popular saying of “get lost“ that you see on T-shirts, stickers and such in the outdoor apparel world. Heck, we even fell into it. It’s a funny and lighthearted word play of telling people to "get lost" from your personal space, while also escaping into the wild and getting lost on an adventure yourself. In our strange and sometimes difficult world, we tend to romanticize this notion of being able to get out into the wild and get lost. But the question is, what if you actually did get lost? our guess is that the feeling of romance would quickly dissipate and the reality of the situation would hit hard. If you were to get lost, and successfully found via search and rescue efforts, the last thing you'd want to be seen in on the 10:00 news is a shirt with "get lost" written on it.
Many outdoor survivalist groups and the Scouting program have long promoted a few handy acronyms to always keep in mind for such an event. While getting lost could happen to even the most experienced outdoors person, these guiding principles will help in such an event.
Before we start, of most importance for any adventure is to of course have some Adventure Awareness. A good way to do this is to know your outdoor ABC's.
Know your ABCs:
A - Always tell someone where you are going and what you will be doing, time of arrival back home etc.
B- Be prepared. Do you have your Ten Essentials? Have you fully researched the area you are going and prepared in the event of an emergency?
C- Carry an emergency kit. To the above point, make sure you have shelter, ability to make a fire and something to signal with in the event you are lost.
The S.T.O.P Method:
Now on to the main event. Despite your best made plans and preparedness, you somehow lost your group or your trail etc and have found yourself in a tough situation. While difficult, you must try to remain calm and keep your wits about you and S.T.O.P.
S - Stay where you are and stay calm. It is recommended to take a drink, eat something and to gather your thoughts.
T- Think. How did you get here? Can you find your location via a map and compass?
O - Observe. Use your map, compass, footprints or natural landmarks to see if you can better understand your location and how you ended up there.
P- Plan. Once you have gone through the process, you should feel more adept at your next move. If you feel you can find your way, move slowly and cautiously and leave some sort of (natural) marker to find your way back to your stay spot if needed. If you cannot find your way back, it is best to stay put and plan for what to do next to survive the night. As Bear Grylls says, "Improvise, Adapt, Overcome."
So, get out there on a grand adventure and do your best to not "Get Lost." If you do find yourself in that unfortunate situation, hopefully you'll remember what to do!