Think errors and missteps only happen to rookies in the outdoors? Not at all! Truth be told, most people have probably had an ‘oops’ moment when adventuring, our members included. In most cases, when you’ve realized you’ve gotten yourself in a situation that needs solving, the best course of action is to stop and assess your options. That moment of pause will provide you with an opportunity to take a breath, regroup, think clearly to find the answer, and/or set yourself up to start working the problem. Here’s a great example of a ‘blooper’ that turned out well, and turned into a great lesson too!

“Many years ago I found myself out after dark on an off-trail wilderness adventure. I was fairly close to my vehicle, but lost reference to a landmark I was using to navigate when it got dark. When I decided to utilize my trusty compass to help point me in the right direction, I discovered it wasn’t in my pack. I’d removed it from my pack along with my “safety kit” earlier in the week, when I had switched packs to attend a SAR call. Oh no! I sat down and thought about my circumstance. I had a map and had been making mental reference of the landmarks around me as I traveled, so I knew that I could pinpoint my location. After figuring out where I was on the map, I oriented it to the North. I then lined myself up with my desired direction of travel and headed straight for the road. I knew that, with the aid of my headlamp, I could safely travel the short distance required without deviating from my course. I also knew that the landscape around me was flat and devoid of cliffs, gulleys and other night time navigational hazards.

I’ve since figured out that a way to avoid a similar situation is to use a good checklist when packing your gear. I use an app that I’ve downloaded for this purpose, but you can also download good checklists from many websites like . I’m hopeful that you can learn from my experience and avoid being in a similar situation!” Rob W.

We’re all going to make mistakes, that’s a given, but just remember to not let fear, pride or misguided determination push you past the point of making good decisions. The best-learned lessons are often learned the hard way, yes, but you’ll thank yourself if you stop as soon as you realize something is wrong (as opposed to a few hours later when it’s become really, really wrong). Don’t be afraid or embarrassed to call for help early on too. SAR members joined their teams because they want to help in moments like these, and the additional time, and daylight, will help expedite a search if it’s required. Stay safe everyone!


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