I am super stubborn. Take for example, I’ve known the importance of telling a friend my hiking itinerary, but I’ve resisted because I love being spontaneous and hike whatever I wanted.
That was until I read a 400 page book of search and rescue (SAR) stories in the national parks, followed by reading the autobiography of the hiker who was pinned by a boulder, so he had to cut off his own arm. I also attended, three times, Ranger Dill’s SAR presentation. One story he shared was about a Yosemite Park employee who goes missing, but no one had a good idea on where to search for this hiker. By the time the rescue team found him, both of his legs had to be amputated.
A common theme in these stories on whether or not a missing hiker lived or had permanent disabilities, came down to knowing where to search for them. That’s when something clicked for me. I like my arms and my legs. I will give up my spontaneity on a hike in exchange for keeping my legs!
Besides packing the 10 Essentials, I now make it part of my routine to tell two friends and to leave a note of my itinerary on my bed and in my vehicle that’s parked at the trail head. I write down what time I started my hike, the names of the people and dogs that I’m hiking with, my intended route, where I plan to camp, which tent I’m using, my return route, and what time I plan to be back at the car. I then print my name and date the note.
If I were to go missing, I would want to be found ASAP. So I leave the SAR team as many clues as I can by leaving additional information at home on my bed that covers my skills in wilderness survival, orienteering and backpacking, as well as my medical history, who to contact in an emergency and photos of me and my vehicle.
Now that I have written and printed off this detailed Survey of me, it is super quick for me to write two copies of my itinerary and to tell two friends where I’m hiking next.
Click to download “The Survey of me.” Why wait? Use your stubborness for good; to keep you safe. Print this survey, fill it out and then keep it with all of your backpacking gear. Do it now so it’s already for your next adventure!