What to Do if You Get Lost in the Woods While Hiking

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So, you’re lost in the wilderness – Remember these things to do if you get lost in the woods while hiking…

It is not a very rare case to get lost while hiking. You might have heard many stories about missing hikers who lost their way due to foggy weather or inattentiveness.

If you are planning to go on a hike, you must know the things to do when you get lost while hiking.

How Do Hikers Get Lost?

Hikers can get lost due to various situations. Sudden weather changes, such as rainfall or heavy fog can mislead hikers. An outdated hiking guidebook can result in following a wrong path.

Moreover, if hikers get distracted while taking part in an engaging conversation, they can get lost in the wilderness while hiking.

If you get lost while hiking, you need to stop panicking and calm yourself down. A calm mind and a good amount of knowledge will help you find your way again.

10 Things to do if you Get Lost While Hiking

Lost While Hiking
Source: app.pickit.com

If you are wondering what to do if you get lost in the woods while hiking, you need to check out the following tips:

  1. The S.T.O.P Rule

Getting lost in the wild is one of the scariest feelings in the world. Confusion, fear, and loneliness can overwhelm you and worsen the situation.

Therefore, the first thing that you need to do if you get lost while hiking is following the S.T.O.P rule.

The S.T.O.P rule tells hikers to stop, think, observe, and plan. Instead of letting fear and confusion overwhelm you, you need to stop for a moment. Give yourself the time to think, observe, and plan.

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  1. Stay Calm

The next thing that you need to do if you get lost while hiking is to stay calm. Do not panic as it will make you take wrong decisions. The trick is to calm your mind and give yourself time to think.

Instead of wandering here and there, sit in a comfortable place and have some water. If you are hungry, eat something to feel better. Once you feel physically better, your mind will be able to take better decisions.

  1. Check the Map and Review Your Surroundings

The next thing that you need to do is check your map and review your surroundings. Take out the map from your bag and try to locate yourself. You will be able to understand the point where you are and where you ideally should be.

lost in the wilderness while hiking

The map can help you go back safely to your campsite. You should use a pen or pencil to mark the exact position of the campsite on your map when you begin hiking. If you find a few familiar landmarks, you can start traveling in the right direction.

  1. Trust the Compass

When you get lost in the woods while hiking, you need to trust the compass. Using a compass will prevent you from walking in circles.

If you trust your compass while heading towards the campsite, you won’t get lost again. As you won’t have a proper idea of the cardinal directions, a compass will help you walk in the right direction.

  1. Check Your Resources

One of the most important things that you need to do if you get lost while hiking is checking your resources. See how much water and food you have. Limit your water and food intake so that you do not deplete your stocks.

You don’t have to hunt for fruits or drink water from streams until you are left with no other choice.

Also See: Reasons Why Running in Cold Weather Is the Best

  1. See Your Phone Coverage

If you are unable to understand which direction you should follow, take out your cell phone and see if the network is available. If there is phone coverage, call the authorities and ask for help.

Put your phone on power saver mode so that the battery does not get exhausted soon.

  1. Use a Whistle in Case of Danger

If you feel you are in danger, use a whistle to communicate with the locals. This is one of the most important things that you need to remember if you get lost while hiking. Blowing a whistle is a better idea than yelling your lungs out.

Blow the whistle three times. It is a characteristic distress signal. Repeat it after every few minutes.

lost in the woods while hiking

  1. Look for Signs of Human Beings

It is scary to get lost while hiking and scarier to be unable to find your way out. Therefore, look out for signs of human beings when you are traveling towards your destination.

Some common signs are smoke, car horns, church bells, farm animals, barking dogs, heavy machinery, trash, and footprints. If you notice any such signs, it will convince you that you are walking in the right direction.

Look for more clues if you spot any such sign. Try to determine the direction of the footprints.

  1. Make it Easy for Rescuers to Notice You

If you want rescuers to find you out, you have to make yourself noticeable. If you get lost while hiking, you need to choose a place which can be spotted clearly from the air.

If you have a bright colored object or clothing item, take them out to provide visual cues to the rescuers.

See: 10 Best Places to Snorkel Around the World: Top Snorkeling Destinations

  1. Light a Fire and Stay Alert

Spending the night alone is the biggest challenge of getting lost while hiking. During sundown, you need to find a safe spot where you can spend the night. Gather wood to light a fire.

Put on extra clothing to stay warm. Be alert and attentive. Do not set up camp near a river. The sound of running water will make it impossible for rescuers to hear you.

getting lost in the wild while hiking
Image: app.pickit.com

Wrap Up – What to do When Lost While Hiking

If you are wondering what to do when lost in the woods, you need to follow the above-mentioned tips. It is scary and confusing to get lost while hiking. If you feel you have lost your way, stop immediately and take a deep breath.

You need to calm yourself down so that you can think clearly. Do not panic and cry. Observe your surroundings. Use a map, compass or GPS of your phone to determine where you are exactly.

Finally, make a plan to find your way. You can either wait for the rescuers to help you or start traveling in the right direction. Be brave and think practically.

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