The Problem of Being Lost

This strikes a cord with me, a big one, a personal one. There are few people in the world with this skill, (in fact the only other one that I know of ((and who's name will not be revealed to protect the ino.... well..)) anyway I will not divulge this name (Chris you owe me)). This train of thought was once again brought to the surface by a book I was reading:

(From P. McManus “The Grasshopper Trap” 2009.): Several years ago I wrote what many experts consider the most authoritative work ever published on the topic of getting lost. The idea for the article germinated out of my observation that where as millions of words have been written about how to survive when lost, absolutely nothing I had ever read had ever been written about the basic problem, how to get lost in the first place. What is the point of knowing how to survive if you don’t know how to get lost.

It probably started when I was hiding from my mother in clothing stores (auugg no more trying on sweaters and collard shirts!!!), or hiding from my dad after my invisible dog prince broke another lamp (NOT MY FAULT). These were the beginnings but not satisfying  (unless I awoke and didn't know where I was) because although I was "lost" from them, I was still knew where I was. The point to being lost is to not know where you are.

Take the prime tenants of course on how to survive when lost

1) Don't Panic : If you walked into the woods on dirt cleared by millions of foot prints and marked with tags on trees, Not a good place to practice survival skills.2) Hydration : if you know where the nearest Duncan Donuts is then, Not a good place to practice survival skills.3) shelter : if you left your car in the parking lot a mile behind you then big deal. Not a good place to practice survival skills.

So to be really good at using survival skills you need to find a way to be 1) panicked, 2) thirsty, 3) shelterless, and really LOST. I can help. So here are my notes to be added to McManus's consummate and authoritative treatise on the the subject. I have found one more mechanism that is failure proof.

First, like the above, just take a hike on a trail, better if its one you don't know, long and winding, and walk till you pass a few twists and turns, THEN AS SUDDENLY AS POSSIBLE, act as if your scared and scream and run off the trail and perpendicular to the trail. It is best to practice running at random angles to the trail, run fast and not in a straight line, dodge trees, running with your head down is the best way. Even better is to add a hoodie or pulled down beanie so you don't have any peripheral vision (the beanie also softens the blows as later discover). Run fast, run furious, run scared, run panicked and run all over the place with no purpose. Dodge trees at the last minute because you see their roots, jump rocks suddenly and go over logs with your head always down. If you hit a few bushes and branches all the better, well just plow through them. Hopefully (not hitting a tree straight on), but you will get better at this (there are less knots on my head these days, [thought there is no hair]). This will remove the chance of memorizing interesting and unique objects, distinctive rock formations, uniquely curved trees, denseness of surrounding ground growth, hill steepness or precipitous drop offs. After doing this till you are out of breath, grab a stick, put your forehead on it and spin around 10 time till you drop to the ground on your back and finally now enjoy the quiet sounds and sights of truly being lost, really lost.  Now you are ready to practice survival skills, now try to find north, to find water, to find shelter TO NOT PANIC!!!!. And you better, because at this point none else will find you either.

Of course there are many other ways to get in a good situation to practice survival skills, like falling off a ledge, following um .. Chris) and steam stomping till you then leave it trekking to another different steam, then another, then wander off on the other side of a hill to maybe get home. There is also the night hiking technique, and the "lets try this random animal trail" (till you have to leave it realizing it is a bear trail). But truthfully none fully fills my loved old memories as well as the tried and true simulation of "panicked running with no clue". Works every time.

With love, East Mtn Strider