Becoming lost while in the wilderness whether hunting or trekking can be more common than people believe. The fact is that most people who become lost find their way back to their path within a few hours. It becomes a non event where no harm is done. Yet here is where things can go wrong. It is within our nature to find our way out of being lost. When one gets turned around it is rare that any individual sits down and waits. Rather when things go very wrong that individual becomes more lost than they initially were.
Experts will say that in the event that this happens one should call for help and wait. In the majority of cases this is true and that advice should be followed. Despite this right and proper advice there are cases when this course of action will serve to further harm the individual that is at risk. The case of Geraldine Largay is a clear example of this instance.
Technology today allows for the greatest chances of surviving scenarios that before would have led to certain death. Between cell phones and GPS emergency beacons, the tools at our disposal are powerful if we have them and if they work as needed. Therein lay the problem, if they work. Most of the time they do. Quite often if there is a failure it is due to either our location or negligence.
Playing quarterback from the couch is all too easy for those who read the news reports of those who became lost or lost their life. It is a situation that people cannot understand from the comfort of their home while sitting in air conditioning and a glass of water at their side. The panic which can set in for the one who is lost, the uncertainty and second guessing that sets in is inescapable. This stage of the scenario is the most critical stage at which one must regain control.
An individuals personality and makeup will play a role in what happens next. Ultimately the same destination must be reached. Before one can reach the question of whether to stay or self rescue an assessment of ones situation must come first. If one finds that they are cut off from the outside world with no communication, no emergency beacon, and the realization that they are completely lost they must make a choice.
There are many questions which must be asked ranging from possible injury, medication needs, physical status, food and supplies, tools at hand to affect your environment, resources within your immediate location, and the resources which you can see beyond. If you notice the order in which I listed the above variables that is the process by which one should begin assessing their circumstances. The greatest concern starts with you and your present well being. Beyond that are the resources in your pack and the tools at hand. Still beyond that are the resources where your feet stand and then further afield the resources you can see and reach.
It may be that you should wait but the location you presently are at is not desirable. Whether that be resource driven or the location is just dangerous, you may need to move to a better location. It could be that the issue is visibility for rescuers to find you is better in another place. There may be a better water resource or protective environment. No matter where your end decision may take you it is necessary to process the information at hand making choices for your benefit and well being.
When completely lost, self rescue is typically for most people not the best option. Despite this the circumstances may dictate that it is the only option. At the moment the choice is made there may still be doubt about that decision. This is where the self assessment and resource assessment of the situation must dictate choices rather than emotions.
If rescue is on the way moving may make it more difficult to be found. The same can be said for doing nothing and just waiting. When there is reason to believe that help is coming do all that can be done to create an environment by which one can be found. Signal fires, color contrast, whistles, tree knocking as if one is calling Bigfoot but tapping SOS, any signal that can be sent should be sent. Creativity in how you use the resources at hand and knowing emergency signals is critical.
If rescue is not coming and it is understood that it is likely to not come, one has no choice but to move. If rescue is coming but resources are running out, or have already run out, this can be one of the most perplexing situations. It is a situation that cannot be answered from the couch of a living room. This is where one must realize that the amount of time spent in preparing oneself for such possibilities before they happen is so critical. For those who love to spend time in the outdoors this preparation should never end. It is a preparation not of tools or kits but rather practiced skills and abilities. Your mind is your greatest weapon in surviving.
There is no perfect environment for survival. One could be given all the tools that can be carried and they would not matter one bit if the mind has not been first prepared. Some have died while they made bedding with the very items that could save them in terms of medicinal resources. Others have sat silent while rescuers passed within a few hundred feet of them. In those moments when there is no clear right and proper choice, the choice that is made should better your circumstances bringing you to better resources.
Choices which bring you to better resources will allow you to utilize your skills extending your survival rate beyond what you carried in on your back. This will give you more time for rescue and in the event of self rescue it will increase your confidence allowing you that one more day, and then one more after that day. To either end that one chooses the real answer is to be proactive in bettering your situation. Each decision that is made should be to that end and purpose. If a choice is not to that purpose then it is a bad choice.
Being proactive will better your psychological state and problem solving will become easier. It is one task at a time, not the whole rescue plan. The proactive choices should be resource driven based upon present needs. Reaching further beyond the present needs is tomorrows needs. Acquiring food, water, preparing the next fire with the one that you presently have, better insulation, more fuel, you must improvise. If you cannot do these things within your present location and circumstances then you should move to where you can.
If the choice ultimately is made to affect self rescue, this too must be prepared by careful thought and a clear objective in direction. Following streams or rivers, targeting a known road or path even if it is miles away, maintaining the mindset of self preservation by leapfrogging from resource to resource solving problems one at a time is the way out. In a moment when people want to speed up to get out we must slow down and assess self and environment before moving forward.