How many of us have seen a rescue situation unfold on TV or the paper and think “How did they get into that mess” or “what on earth?”
Every year there are thousands of people that have to be rescued from various situations. Although from a distance it is easy to judge and say “I would never get into that situation”, it is worth analyzing how these things happen so we can be better at avoiding them.
Get the experience you need to succeed.
Lack of experience when going out on an expedition is one of the leading causes of catastrophe and fatalities. People that take on some of the roughest terrain and mountains take a lot of time to train and get into the proper physical condition.
Mount Rainier and the Spring Thaw
Katadyn Vario Water Fi... Buy New $89.17 (as of 12:55 EDT - Details) I am going to tell you a story about growing up in Washington state. We used to get quite a snow pack, and one of the more macabre jokes out there was that you knew it was spring when they started finding hikers on Mount Rainier. When you heard the stories about people hiking and dying it was hard not to ask “what on earth is a novice or unprepared person doing thinking they could climb a 14,000 ft volcano!
Sorry but that takes some experience.
A lot of people are fully capable of it and having a great experience but over estimating your level of preparedness or rushing into a major summit like that is foolhardy. Train the right way. Get out there with a friend or a group to prepare for the adventures you want to have. During a SHTF scenario, you are not going just to be able to strap on a pack that weighs 40 lbs or more and take off like a super athlete if what you are used to involves a desk during the week and a few short hikes on the weekend.
Plan on delays
Even the best-laid plans and routes can take a turn for the worse. You could be injured, caught in a storm, or any other number of scenarios. I always pack 1-2 days extra food and supplies than what I need when out camping or on the trail. I see so many people going out on the trail with not even enough raincoats for the party! Treat any trip like a major excursion.
In the mountains where I live going downhill is often a good bet and following some of the water. Eventually, you will probably run into something. All too many cases occur where people walk sideways on a ridge and get into dire straits. Be observant and listen. If you hear sounds like cars or trains. There are a lot of places that seem remote and such, but they are still within sound range of a major highway. The USA especially is not as wild and untamed as it once was. Don’t get me wrong, and there are plenty of places that you can wander off and get lost or get away from it all. Day Hike! Mount Rainie... Best Price: $2.87 Buy New $14.57 (as of 07:30 EDT - Details)
Have the right gear
Good gear costs money no doubt, but the price is nothing compared to the danger and suffering that can happen when it is ignored. There are deals to be had out there. I am the type of woman that has some expensive gear that I paid about 30% of the retail cost. I shop out of season and catch deals when I can.
No cotton for any hike where you may get caught out.
Synthetic fabrics keep you warm even when wet and they dry out fast. Poly pros can be had for a bargain if you buy them in the offseason. Make sure to get a weight that is suitable for your area. I made the mistake of getting the medium weight from LL Bean when lightweight is all that is needed here. Although our elevation is high, we are so far south that it is still too warm for those medium weights most days of the winter. If it varies a lot in your area, have two sets that are different weights to wear.
Remaining calm helps you make more rational decisions. It is hard to reason when you are super upset. If you have others with you, it can be even harder to remain calm, especially if you are in a leadership role. Children can go up the ante and then there is the fact that panic can be pandemic in a group. Once full panic sets in, the situation can be hard to get back under control without some major costs. Best Easy Day Hikes Mo... Best Price: $6.55 Buy New $8.88 (as of 12:40 EDT - Details)
Bring signaling devices
A simple signal can make all the difference. There are many different ways to signal. A bright piece of fabric on a stick or better yet an infrared signaling device can alert rescuers to your position without a lot of effort. There is a big difference between the resources required for a brief search and the kind of operation that happens when a full-scale search of days duration is undertaken.
Learn how to signal
If you do need assistance or are trying to get others in your party back together again, knowing how to signal is going to be useful. Having some item of bright clothing or a brightly colored emergency poncho to use is one of the simplest ways. Hollering, flare guns, whistles, etc. are but a few of the other ways.