Survive It: Part 1- Wrong Turn



The sun is shining.  The birds are singing.  It's Saturday and all week I've been itching to take a hike on a trail just outside of town that I haven't yet explored.  I throw on a backpack, carrying only what I'll need for an 8 mile day hike: a small knife (because carrying it makes me feel like Bear Grylls), cell phone, lunch, 2 water bottles, and a wind breaker (just in case it gets chilly in the evening).  I almost pack a mini first-aid kit, matches, and a tarp, but decide against it.  After all, I'll only be gone for a few hours.  What could go wrong?  

I get to the trail at 11am, and take off up the mountain, eager to explore a new place.  It's a remote trail that seems to get very little traffic.  Wildlife is abundant, and the cool September air makes for a pleasant time.  After stopping for lunch I realize that I have forgotten to check if I had received an email from a friend of mine who would be visiting in a couple of weeks.  Although it interrupts my great hike, I decide to bushwhack up the mountain a bit to a place where I can get cell phone reception and ask my girlfriend to check my email.  The brush is relatively thick, yet manageable.  I find myself snaking up the opposite side of the mountain as the terrain seems a bit clearer and less steep.

After coming to a saddle I find myself exhausted.  I spent 20 minutes bushwhacking through thick willows and tall grass, and to no avail.  The area is remote enough to not quite get reception, even at a high, clear location.  Oh well, It will just have to wait until I get home tonight...

I head down the mountain, looking for the trail, and after a short hike I find it again. I continue the hike, still looking forward to what I'll find on the new trail.  A couple of hours pass, and the trail seems to get smaller and smaller.  There also seems to be a fair amount of animal scat that I identify as bear scat.  Thinking back to a map I had seen of the trail, there was supposed to be a small body of water called "frying pan pond" that would indicate my turn around point.  This hike was only supposed to be 8 miles though.  I used my 2nd grade math skills to realize that there was no way I hadn't gone 4 miles yet.  Oh well, I say to myself once again, It's probably just a bit further down.  I'm a slow hiker anyways.

I travel for another 45 minutes, and instead of getting wider as I had hoped, the trail stays narrow.  There's no pond anywhere near.  It's 5pm now.  The time I planned on driving home.  That's when I finally realize.

I hadn't found the original trail when I hiked back down the mountain.  Instead I had found a bear trail, and stupidly decided to follow that, thinking it was the one I had been on originally.  Then it really hits me.  I'm in trouble...

DON'T WORRY!!  None of this actually happened to me.  As I type this I'm sitting in a coffee shop with jazz playing in the background (Actually, it's really cruddy pop music, but I would prefer jazz).  In fact, I've never been in this sort of situation before.  The question I'll be asking myself in this next series is, 'what if it happened to me?'

For a while now I've been studying wilderness skills, and survival, and after spending time living in inhospitable climates all around North America I'm going to share with you all what I would do if it happened to me.  After all, It's much better to ask that question then it is to say 'it won't ever happen to me.'

I don't usually write about "survival" in this blog.  I'd rather spend my time enjoying the wilderness, and travel across it.  I'd rather be a part of the wilderness, if only for a short while.

I'm taking a short break from my usual adventure travel blogging to concentrate on the issue of survival, and I'd love for you to come along with me on this new series.

As always, thank you for reading!  Typos curtisy of,
-Sam