I went hiking once, actually I hiked a lot. It was fun and good excercise for me. This one time I went out, though, wasn’t a good time. I usually packed for a night out in the woods and brought some ready to eat meals and a pound of trail snacks, and a multitool with a pretty good knife, a spork or two, a campers shovel, and a really awesome knife like from in a movie that was razor sharp on one side and seradded on the other and it had a little hidden compartment on the handle, and I brought a couple things to keep my dry if it rained, or if I got wet and my tent.
It was all good stuff, stuff i could rely on for the day or two I took to hike to wherever and back. But this one time was the survival story I’ll tell my grandkids.
I was still kinda new to hiking alone and thought I had it all handled so I left on a friday and made sure to tell everyone where I was going and when I was gonna be back, because that’s most important and everyone should know that and remember it! I drove to the woods and and got my bags ready and checked them before I put them on and then locked my car and then I started my hike.
It was a pretty tight woods like almost a forest but the state doesn’t call it a forest but they should I say.
I was wearing my heavy Bates boots, the ones they wear inthe military for jungle stuff so I’ve always worn them when I was hiking, and heavy pants with another pair of clothes in my bags because what if I got wet and it got cold and I couldnt start a fire? I need warm dry cloths, duh!
I walked for a few hours and took a long break, then found out I left my compass in my car and figured I could just walk back the way I came from.
**Never do that! Always have a map and compass and know how to use them or you’ll end up like me.
I marched on for the rest of the day until my watch said it was 4:00pm and then I realized I was walking for almost seven hours, not counting my breaks. I took a break and tried to figure out where I was by the sun but I couldn’t see it through the trees and I should have taken time to figure out where I was or back tracked or even stayed put.
But I was all cocky and thought I had it all handled and set my watch for an hour alarm and picked a direction and walked that way. Finally, around 5:30pm I stopped because my feet were hurting and I made camp and didn’t start a fire because it was still warm and humid and early in the day.
**That’s another thing, if its too humid to start a fire, don’t think you wont need one! Really, what was I thinking? I still can’t believe it, but I went in to my tent and took a nap with my boots and bags outside because ‘it was too hot to have them in my tent with me’ and I didn’t want shoe smell where I slept.
I woke up at 7:11pm, I remember that because that was when the thunder woke me up and I realized it was raining bad. I opened my tent and got my stuff in and got my sleeping bag soaked when I dumped the water from my boots onto it by accident. My clothes were wet now and my back up clothes were kind of dry, but I was using a grocery store handle bag because I didn’t know about using a sealed bag.
**Get a sealed bag! Get a sealed bag for your clothes. You phone. Your socks. Your underwear. Your hygene kit. Seal everything in thier own bags and dont take them out until you need them!
I was wet, sweaty in my tent, and mad at the rain and myself for thinking I was hot stuff. I didnt bring my phone because I didnt think I could use it back then even though it had a compass app I figured I had my own and I didn’t know GPS worked without my mobile connection so that’s the next tip.
**Bring your phone. Smartphones connect to something always, even forests sometimes have cell phone towers for emergency calls or maybe even connection so an older phone can be found in the area of one of the towers and you can be found easier.
So, the storm only lasted a few hours and by midnight it was over, but now it was night and I was wet and it was cold. I didn’t save any wood for a fire or and kindling either. I was stuck where I was with wet gear and nothing but my ready to eat meals and the little warm pack it came with.
I cooked a packet of spagetti pasta and when it was done cooking I held that little warm pack like it was a gift from above for what little warmth it gave me and the food was still cold and I shivvered all night and got almost no sleep.
It rained again in the morning when I woke up and then I just tossed my sleeping bag into the rain and kept my boots upside down against my bags in the tent that was barely big enough for me and my stuff, it felt like by noon.
The sun was so nice and I walked out of my tent without thinking and soaked my socks again in the wet ground before I could really enjoy the sunlight. It was a terrible trip so far, so I pulled out the socks from my bag that were kinda wet but clean at least and then slipped my boots on and got my stuff together ready to call it quits for the trip.
I rolled my sleeping bag because it was still kinda of expensive and squeezed the water out of it and used some extra rope I had to make a clothes line I forgot about at the bottom of my bag to tie it to the bottom of my bag like other treckers do.
**Bring rope! It saved me once in another hiking trip when I was messing around and wanted to slide down a hill and if I didn’t tie my rope to a tree and just slid down I would have broken my leg on a ten foot drop off I didn’t see from the top of the hill! That was even after this story, so I got smarter.
**Learn from other peoples mistakes, too. Like everything I did in this story. :)
So, the walk I took wasn’t back to where I started and after starting at noon I had eaten almost all my snacks and was out of water because I dropped my canteen from frozen fingers last night and didn’t think about it any until about 3:00pm.
I figured I could cross a creek or something and drink quick, then when I got back to my car I’d just go to the hospital and get some medicine just in case. There wasn’t any water just creeping around like in the movies. And when I dug a hole to get ground water it was full of dead leaves, bugs, and was black.
I was screwed if I didn’t get help, so I started moving faster to get back out of the forest.
**Don’t rush when you’re thirsty and don’t have any water. It just makes you dehydrate faster.
I was sweating like crazy and breathing heavy by maybe 6:00pm and even if I was going the right way I was still hours from my car or other people, but I kept on with only bathroom breaks and my determination to finish. The sun was setting and I was feeling the cold again, so I gathered a bunch of sticks and found out they were all wet still from the rain and wouldn’t make a fire.
I tried to cut some bark off a tree like I saw in a survival show and cut my hand really bad on that awesome knife. It wasn’t a horrible cut, but it was a nick that started to bleed and was deep enough that it wouldn’t stop without stuff I didn’t have.
****** Bring a first aid kit and know how to use it! You don’t have to be a doctor or know how to sew your own cuts up in a rain storm while running from crazy hobos with pet panthers and jaguars chasing you. Just have a $5.00 first aid kid and read the booklet and practice how to stop bleeding.
I only knew about putting pressure on it, so I did that and lost my knife because one hand was hurt and the other was holding the cut. I was panicked and thought I was gonna bleed to death and the dehydration didn’t help with that any, so I lost a $65 knife somewhere in the forest that actually had a compass in the handle if I unscrewed it.
** KNow your equipment! I bought the knife cuz it was cool and I had all these thoughts of living in the woods during some alien invasion and hving to survive by hunting my own meat by falling on deer or pigs and all that junk. I had a knife that had a compass on it that I didn’t know because I just saw how cool it looked.
I spent the second night cold and hungry, the warm pack didn’t work so I cried and ate cold chili and crackers. A little pack of dry instant coffee I saved and when I woke up in the morning I ate that and got a good boost of energy to pack up my stuff and get walking.
My body was hurting, I had a killer head ache, my cut had stopped bleeding yesterday but started again overnight and now I had blood on my outfit from my hand. I was starting early so I was cold and still sad and thirsty. I ate my snacks and trail mix before noon and kept walking in the same direction and night came again.
I had no food, a whole day without water.. I was in a bad place and started seeing things and smelling food that couldn’t have been out near me. I woke up shivering so bad I thought I had hypothermia but my sleeping bag was dry and I wrapped myself up in it so tight and the next morning at least i was warm!
That was a good start, finally, and I was tired and not in the mood so I stayed in my tent until about two just worrying if I’d die and never be found. But, I was supposed to be home earlier and my friends called the police and they sent out special people to find me. I thought I was halusinating again when I heard dogs barking and I remember thinking I was at a park.
Then some guys started shouting and I realized they were real and they gave me some drinks and a EMT checked me over and I was pretty sick and cold so I got a helicopter ride to the hospital.
I got lucky on that trip, super lucky, and if I have one thing to say its to always respect nature because it doesn’t care about you. Keep yourself smart and trained, talk to people about where you’re going. I was on the path by pure luck, otherwise I wouldn’t be telling this story still.
Listen to others and learn from their mistakes.