Two recent stories of hikers who did not return from a day hike as planned highlight the difference between hikers who are prepared to spend a night in the woods even if they had set out on a day hike, and hikers who risk their lives because of lack of knowledge or egos.
These stories highlight the two most important essentials for so called day hikers.
First, always leave information with a trusted relative or friend about your planned excursion and return. The San Francisco hiker came close to death from hypothermia because no one was looking for him after he failed to return as he had planned. The Vancouver hiker had a much better chance of survival if his delayed return had been due to injury because an SAR was alerted as soon a she had not returned as expected.
Second, never venture into the woods unless you are prepared to spend the night. Weather, illness, accident, or other unexpected event can easily turn your planned day hike into an overnight adventure. Will you be able to survivor and enjoy the adventure, or instead place yourself at risk of being a search and recovery instead of a search and rescues?
An unidentified hiker in the Lands End area in San Francisco was rescued April 20, 2010 after spending a wet and frigid night under a tree. He was found suffering from hypothermia and with a badly broken leg. He was described as approximately 50-years old and a “regular” user of that trail. He apparently fell off an unstable bluff. He was rescued after another passing on the trail heard hmi crying out for help.
Ron E. Fridell, 60, of Vancouver, had his planned day hike turned into an overnight adventure when he could not follow the return trail because of heavy snowfall. He concluded it would not be safe to attempt to descend in those conditions so he decided to hunker down and wait to hike out this morning. Fridell said he had plenty of gear: three coats, overnight materials and plenty of food. He said he was never worried much about having to stay out in the wilderness overnight; in fact, he said he was never actually lost.
“I was looking for a trail way in the outback and couldn’t find it because of deep snow,” he said. “I made a wonderful camp, had a big bonfire (and) enjoyed it.”