We’ve all been lost at some point or another when traveling. When getting lost on the road or in some strange town, it’s easy to get out and find the correct path with Google Maps, a paper map, or even just asking the locals for directions. However, finding your way out of a wilderness area is a little more complicated. There are very few topographical maps of regions, and reading them requires some skill. If you don’t have a map, you’re left with just some fundamental skills, which we’ll cover here today.
The first thing you should do if lost in the wilderness is to look for telltale signs of humans in the area. This can be something as simple as a road, domesticated animals, buildings, tire tracks, abandoned campsites, bridges, or sawn-off trees. If you can find any signs of human life, your chances of finding someone who can help you get out of the forest are much higher.
If you can’t find any signs of human life nearby, the next thing you should do is find a high vantage point. This can be as simple as climbing a tall tree if you’re skilled enough. However, don’t do this unless you are confident in your abilities. Instead, climb up to the highest hill you can find so long as you can come back down. If you can’t get back down the hill, finding another way to locate civilization is better.
Another method for finding civilization is following any river or creek. Towns and cities are often close to or on the water. If you follow a river long enough along the banks, you will eventually run into homes, people, or towns. Always follow the river the way it is flowing, which is downhill. Traveling downhill is more effortless, and it’s better to take the easiest route in such a situation. Also, being right next to a river means that you have water easily accessible and food in the form of fish. Try to disinfect any water you drink by boiling it for two minutes. Additionally, if you don’t have a fishing kit, sometimes it’s possible to catch fish barehanded. This is a skill that you should acquire before this situation.
Try finding a clearing if you can’t find a river or a high vantage point. Often in a clearing, you will discover domesticated animals grazing or that a lumber company sawed it down. Also, clearings make it easier for aircraft to find you if you’re signaling. This might be your key to the rescue.
If you can’t find a river, a high vantage point, or a clearing, continue to go downhill. Water tends to collect at the very bottom of a valley. Towns and cities tend to be in valleys. At the same time, you may also see your way to civilization accidentally or by following the water at the bottom of the valley. Traveling downhill has another advantage in that it reduces your energy expenditure and will increase your likelihood of being rescued.