I was reading a back issue of The Trailhead the other night and after reading about a couple of particularly harrowing trips I started thinking about the great campfire stories I’ve heard over the years. They all involved situations that could have been avoided. Knowing that I’m not ready to give up my gambling problem (I ride horses, therefore I gamble with my life every time I get in the saddle) I decided to reduce the other risks I take when I go onto the trail. One risk to mitigate is getting lost, which we all agree can be a real bummer. Unfortunately, getting lost is all too easy to do as evidenced by the many Search and Rescue operations carried out every year for missing hikers, horse riders, etc.
You can’t get lost if you “Stay Found”, I wrote Staying Found as an introduction to a land navigation class for a mounted search and rescue unit a few years ago. We’ve all been in situations where we knew something wasn’t quite right but we weren’t sure what it was. Maybe you didn’t remember the last fork in the trail on the way out or a landmark you don’t recognize is now staring at you. Maybe I don’t have enough of an adventure seeking personality but I don’t like that feeling and do whatever I can to avoid it.
By “staying found” we can avoid the unpleasant results of getting lost (especially the ribbing you’ll get when you do, finally, make it back to camp!) The most important parts of staying found are accomplished off trail, at home. Preparation includes: Learning how to read a topo map; learning how to use a compass and operate your GPS; and researching your spring and summer highcountry trips. Staying Found addresses the basics of these ideas and gives good jumping off points into other further trip planning / navigation information.
With spring and summer approaching, now is a great time prepare and ensure that we’re around for many more trips in the coming years.
I hope this information helps you in planning your trips and staying safe for the coming riding season!