The recent rescue of the yoga teacher on the Hawaiian island of Maui has brought to the forefront the importance of taking precautions of not hiking alone, but also knowing how to survive if you do venture out and find yourself lost in the wilderness.
Amanda Eller was 35 and ended up lost when she actually went deeper in the reserve instead of back to her car as she believed. Ms. Eller was able to survive alone for 17 days because she was aware of survival techniques and was familiar about what she could and could not eat to get water supply and nourishment for her body. But could you do the same?
Let’s Examine Some Basic Techniques to Survive in the Wilderness when Lost
The basic rule is:
• Shelter first
• Water before food
The reason for this order of importance is because you cannot survive the elements if you get too hot or too cold. You can freeze from cold or die from heat long before you die from thirst or from lack of foot. So, shelter is number one. Water is number two. A person can go for a very long time without food, but a person will only last a certain number of hours without water. Water has to be number two.
If you are in the woods, a basic shelter can be sticks bent in the middle to form a small a A-frame structure. This can then be covered with leaves or other branches for camouflage to protect from animals and weather elements.
The yoga teacher in Hawaii stayed in a wild boar’s cave. There are stories of hikers in Alaska who share caves with hibernating bears. Shelter is key to your survival, especially at night. During the day, you are going to have to focus on getting noticed somehow, but you still have to work on the second item for survival.
Once you have a shelter, it’s time to find water. Hopefully, you have some water with you, but to survive for any length of time you will need much more. If you are in a green area with lush vegetation, water has to be nearby. Use your senses to find water. Obviously, listening for nearby streams or rivers will be at the forefront of your mind if you need water. Dew should be in the air and will settle on plants. The trick is to catch the dew as the sun is coming up. Try to bend the leaves so the dew will fall into your water bottle or a plastic bag if you have one.
Food is next. Be careful when picking berries. If you don’t know the difference between poisonous and good berries to eat, it is best to stick with blueberries, raspberries, gooseberries, and blackberries. Do not eat the tiny red or blackberries you see growing on bushes. They are most likely dolls eyes, Jerusalem cherry or Daphny berry. These are all poisonous.
If you are able to find good berries to eat, these are full of both water and some nutrition. You can survive quite a while by eating berries. Do not get lost looking for food. Mark your path back to your shelter any time you leave the area.
People are looking for you, but you need to help the search. Make a fire. This should be a contained fire. Be careful not to make a fire that is dangerous or spreads. Be sure you have cleared the area, so the fire does not spread past where you are building the fire. Sticks can be rubbed together to start a fire. Or if you have glasses try making the sun reflect through the glasses onto a dry leaf to heat it up to a flame.
Try to find a clearing to make a signal either by using branches or rocks. The signal is important. Make an arrow pointing to your camp. Stay put if you can. Remember, it Is always best practice to hike with a buddy. Stay on trails, carry a compass, a map, plenty of water and let people know where you are. Enjoy nature but be a prepper hiker.