2020 – A Decade of Lessons Learned . . . Solo, Partner or Group


Lessons Learned:

  1. Finding available and compatible partners is challenging.
  2. Being in the right place at the right time opens opportunities.
  3. There are pros and cons to each option.

Groups:

As is common, I started my backpacking career by joining an adventure group where more experienced folks would host outings. It’s a great way to meet people, learn about trails and gear. These trips created some great memories with lots of laughter and fun. Naturally, subgroups were formed based on compatibility and personality. I’ve also taken advantage of permit opportunities by joining up with a group when invited.

  • Positives:
    • Introduction to trails and gear
    • Mentorship by the more experienced
    • Safety in numbers
    • Shared gear and knowledge
    • Assistance available
    • Unlimited conversation
  • Challenges:
    • Group think and decisions can be sluggish
    • Conflict is common between the slowest and fastest hikers, the bossy and the timid, etc.
    • Sticking to a planned itinerary is more important
    • Campsite choice is more limited
    • Breaks and chores seem to be more lengthy
    • Less likelihood to see wildlife and to experience silence

My worst experience was with a guy who did a great job planning and communicating our group trip. We met several times in advance to talk about the itinerary, gear and logistics. However, on our first day as we carpooled to our destination, the plan was already falling apart. The next day, was even worse as the planned miles became a march for more and more which was a problem for at least one participant. This person was shy and wasn’t able to say this isn’t working instead she trudged on getting hurt and being miserable as a result. Another member was really upset as he’d scheduled time off work and now the leader was pushing to end the trip early. All in all it was poor communication and revised itineraries that weren’t in the best interest of the group.

Partner(s):

If you are dependent on group outings, you may find yourself limited on number of trips per year. Are you available when those trips are scheduled? Do you want to go where they are going? Finding one, two or three friends or adventure buddies might be easier.

Is two the right number? If you have a compatible partner, it might be perfect. It takes time to find that partner and they might not be the perfect one in all situations. It’s rare that compromises aren’t needed.

How about three or more? Sometimes having a third member of the team helps with decision making and provides additional conversation and perspectives. Much like groups, the more there are is not necessarily merrier. I consider more to mean more complicated.

A few years ago I wrote a blog post about this very issue (Partnership Commitments, Compatibilities & Compromises). You might find it a useful tool although I’ve learned some people don’t necessarily have enough self-awareness or experience to answer the questions honestly. Perception vs reality may be quite different, or might be biased in favor of an opportunity no matter what.

Some of my best memories are with companions. If you’ve followed me on my jaunts, you know that my Team J&J (Jan and Joan) adventures have been epic. I couldn’t ask for a better partner. Joan has supported me and I her. We bring to our team unique skills and perspectives, where one may be weaker the other stronger. We’ve tested our friendship and compatibility by working together to overcome challenges. I’ve shared more miles with Joan than any other companion and look forward to many more J&J jaunts.

Solo:

This is the ultimate freedom. Pick your time, date, location. It’s easier to get permits and to find campsites. All decisions are yours and yours alone. But there are some negatives:

  1. Fun – Having the right partner or group can make the adventure more fun. I love being silly, laughing and giggling, singing and dancing. Those elements are missing when I’m solo.
  2. Sharing – I enjoy sharing moments and miss not being able to do that in the moment. Sure I can take photos and share on my blog later but it’s not the same as witnessing something special together.
  3. Decision Making – I might be more conservative when solo, or at least more cautious. The consequences for a mistake are bigger.
  4. Assistance – Having a friend who can help with obstacles is a huge advantage. I have to work harder getting over and around things solo. I also might turn around if it’s something I worry about not being able to get back up or down. If I were to get hurt, it’s up to me to figure out how to get out or get help.
  5. Equipment Failures – You need to be fully self supported and know how to make the best of a situation when you don’t have a friend with items to share if yours breaks such as water filter, stove or electronics.

When hiking solo, I’m more in the moment. I don’t have any distractions. I stop when I want to stop. I can take tons of photos, or sit by a stream or lake. I can go swimming or spend a day reading. I might want to hike off trail to the top of a ridge. I’m a slow hiker so it’s nice not feeling the pressure to go faster or keep up. But I cherish my partner and group times. Those are some of my best memories. I like mixing it up. I’m grateful for those who are willing to compromise on my behalf so we can hike together.

Links:

2020 – A Decade of Lessons Learned . . . Bug Management


Lessons Learned:

  1. Prevention is better than consequences
  2. Pesky pests are my enemy
  3. Be prepared for war
  4. Life is better with pain and itch relief
  5. Evasion is a great solution

Prevention:

  • Pre-Treatment

I consider Sawyer’s Permethrin my secret weapon in this war against unwanted pests. I spray my hiking garb (long sleeve shirt, skirt, tall gaiters, shoes, gloves and hat), as well as my pack and the mesh on my tent. This treatment lasts 6 weeks or 6 washings so I usually try to time it with my first big bug outing. Tip: read the instructions especially regarding cats and also take precautions to protect yourself.

  • Protection

I prefer wearing body armor in the form of clothing rather than repellent, but since I’m also sensitive to heat I usually have some exposed skin that needs protection.

      • Clothing – long sleeve shirt, skirt, tall gaiters, shoes, gloves and hat plus headnet
      • Chemical – I start with least harmful and work my way up the spectrum if needed. These are my product preferences for ticks, biting flies and mosquitoes.
  • Evasion
    • Running is not a great solution, but it does work for short stretches.
    • When all else fails, hide in your tent. That’s my tactic during those highly pesky dusk and dawn hours.

Treatment:

I tend to get bacterial infections from bites and am extremely sensitive so for me it’s worth carrying something for pain and itch management.

First Aid:

  • Tick Key (don’t forget to save the tick)

Gnats:

These things are evil. They drive me batty and it seems they show up when I find myself without my headnet. One little trick I’ve learned is to hang something from my hat or buff that swings in front of my face while walking. I find that tall dry grass works best but I’ve also used pine needles.

Links:

Disclosure: Amazon affiliate links may be included which provide me a tiny kickback to help pay for this site.

 

 

 

Disclosure: Amazon affiliate links may be included which provide me a tiny kickback to help pay for this site.

2020 – A Decade of Lessons Learned . . . What’s In My Pack?


Lessons Learned:

  1. It’s an evolving process of trial and error.
  2. Choices are unique.
  3. Compromise is expected.
  4. Keep it simple.
  5. Weight matters.
  6. Plan for repairs, revisions and replacements.
  7. Label your stuff; loss happens.

Base Weight:

My standard base weight is 14-16 pounds. The items in italics are seasonal/conditional extras.

  • Pack
    • Gossamer Gear Mariposa
    • Gossamer Gear Pack Liners x2
  • Shelter
    • Big Agnes Copper Spur UL1 with ground cloth
    • Gossamer Gear Titanium Hook Stakes 6.5″ x 8
  • Sleep System
    • Custom DIY Quilt (modified from ZPacks 900-fill down 10-degree bag)
    • ZPacks Dyneema Dry Sack (for quilt when raining)
    • Big Agnes AXL Air Mattress (replaced with Thermarest Xtherm when temps drop below freezing)
    • Gossamer Gear 1/8″ Thinlight Foam Mattress (also part of pack frame)
    • Klymit Medium X Pillow with Buff as pillowcase
  • Kitchen
    • Jetboil Ti-Sol Stove and Cookpot (no longer sold) (in water shortage areas I’ll forego cooking)
    • Ziploc Twist ‘N Lock 12 oz container (for rehydrating meals)
    • Nylon Ditty Bag and 1/4 Sheet Disposable Towel
    • Sea to Summit Long-Handled Spoon
    • Ursack and Opsak (replaced with Bear Canister when required)
  • Hydration
    • Sawyer Squeeze, Full Size (may use water treatment tablets instead in below freezing temps)
    • Evernew 1500ml Bags, quantity 2-4 with one marked as dirty bag (may bring 700ml SmartWater Bottle)
    • Scoop and Prefilter (made with Platypus 0.5L, Steripen Filter Cartridge and, SmartWater Bottle Flip Top)
    • Insulated Tube, Mouthpiece and Bottle Adapter
  • Sleep Clothes
    • Icebreaker Merino Tights
    • Ibex Merino Hooded Long Sleeve Top
    • Smartwool Merino Socks
    • Smartwool Merino Glove Liners
    • DIY Down skirt, slipper leggings, mittens (winter below freezing conditions)
    • DIY Microfleece Balaclava
  • Clothing Layers
    • Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer Down Hooded Jacket
    • Patagonia Hooded Houdini Rain/Wind Jacket
    • Melanzana Beanie
    • Gloves/Mittens (various depending on conditions)
    • Rain Gear (Frogg Toggs UL Jacket, Pants and/or Poncho)
  • Extra Clothes
    • Underwear x1
    • Injinji Toe Socks x1
  • Toiletries
    • Poo Kit (Bidet, Dry Wipes, Dr Bonners, Deuce of Spades Trowel, Doggie Poo Bag, DIY Ditty Bag)
    • Toothbrush, Paste and Floss
    • Eye Drops
    • Lotion with Sunscreen
    • Foot Ointment
    • Ibuprofen and Vitamins
    • Lens Cleaner
    • Disposable Towel (1/4 size)
    • Earplugs
    • Odor Neutralizer Bar
    • Diaper Pins
    • Ziplock (pint size freezer bag)
  • Electronics
  • First Aid and Emergency Preparedness
    • Inhaler primary and backup
    • Pain reliever (ibuprofin, excedrin, norco)
    • Stings/bites (benadryl, pepcid, anti-itch & antibiotic ointments, antiseptic and alcohol wipes)
    • Blisters/cuts (Leukotape-P, gauze, moleskin, steri-strips, needle)
    • Tummy/intestinal (pepcid, imodium)
    • Heat exhaustion/dehydration (Pedialyte)
    • Repairs (super glue, tenancious tape, needle and floss)
    • Hydration tube bite valve (backup)
    • Chapstick (backup)
    • Hairband (backup)
    • Water treatment drops (backup)
    • Mini lighter and fire starter
    • Emergency Poncho
    • Sharpie for notes
    • Ziplocks x2 (pint size freezer bag)
    • Compass
    • Multitool (Leatherman CS)
    • Pepper Spray (grizzly spray when applicable)
    • ID, emergency contacts, medical history, advanced directive, permits in opsak
  • Miscellaneous (seasonal/situational)
    • Bug Management:
      • Bug headnet
      • Bug repellent
      • Tick Key
    • Sunscreen
    • Umbrella (rain and sun)
    • Excessive Rain
      • Polycro Sheet (layer in tent)
      • Larger plastic bags (use to separate wet gear during night)
      • Utility gloves (layer over merino or separate to keep hands dry and warm)
    • Snow/Ice:
    • Desert:
      • Comb and full size tweezers (jumping cholla)

Things I Don’t Carry:

  • A chair
  • Camp shoes
  • Extra hiking clothes
  • A weapon, hunting or fishing gear

Things I Wear and Carry:

Things I’ve Carried Since My First Trip:

As I reviewed my list, I realized I’ve changed everything over the years. There are quite a few items I’ve carried at least 5 years, in fact many probably 7-8 but even those might have been modified. This kit keeps me comfortable and happy through most conditions.

Ongoing Challenges:

  1. I’d love a lighter less bulky tent
    • Stake-dependent shelters are frustrating in hard rocky ground
    • Single wall shelters have condensation issues
    • Dyneema shelters are so expensive
  2. It’s about time to replace my well-loved pack
    • The GG models change slightly year-to-year and are expensive to return
    • All cottage company models require an investment in return postage
    • I’m tempted to make my own
  3. Simplifying water treatment is always on my mind
    • The Sawyer Squeeze takes time and has to be protected during freezing temps
    • The Katadyn BeFree has enough negative reviews to cause hesitation; the custom bottles don’t excite me.
  4. It’s time to do a pack shake down again with weight creeping up to 16 pounds; 12-14 would be better. Yes I know the changes I could make. Like I said at the beginning it’s all about compromise.

Related Posts:

Disclosure: Amazon affiliate links may be included which provide me a tiny kickback to help pay for this site.

Note: The purple mat is not part of my gear.

 

2020: What’s stopping YOU from living YOUR BEST Life?

I recently wrote a post about stewers vs doers (link). For many it’s easy to become stuck in a type of paralysis playing the What If game making it extremely challenging to go from a stewer to a doer. I think this image puts risk into perspective.

Are you a worry wort or a carefree risk taker or more likely somewhere in between? Does your worry prevent you from doing? Does it cause you to limit your adventures? Do you weigh yourself and your pack down with the what ifs?

In a book I was reading this morning this quote stood out and seemed applicable to so many situations, “No use wasting time being afraid of something you can’t do anything about.”
My goal is to go prepared mentally, physically and with the right skills, gear and safety equipment so that I can be free to worry less, laugh more, live more, adventure more . . .
What have you done to successfully transition from spending too much time worrying to more time living? What advice do you have for others in same situation?

The Abundant R’s of Winter

We might not hibernate but winter typically signals a period of slowing down, spending more time indoors, and for me doing a lot of R’s. Funny as I thought about this post, every descriptor began with an R so I decided to run with it.

Rest, Recovery and Rehab

My body says thank you for slowing down, tending to aches, pains and neglected areas.

Recondition, Revise, Repair, Replace, Recycle

It’s a time to evaluate my clothing and gear. Broken zippers, holey socks . . .  With discounts at their best from November through January, winter is the time to replace or upgrade gear. It’s also a good time to see if I have clutter worthy of selling, donating or tossing.

Replenish

My food and resupply bins are usually looking quite sparse by this time of year. Nothing says prep quite like the dehydrator, boxes of bars and Minimus.biz.

Reorganize

Might as well put things away where they belong when done with inventory and restocking. When it’s time to play I want to be able to grab and go.

Rewind and Reflect

This is typically the time of year I catch up on photo processing, blog posts and my map track. What were my highlights and lowlights? Yes, my broken blog photo links have been my lowest low of the year. I’m still working to resolve.

Research

While I’m reminiscing about my joys of the previous year, it’s also a good time to starting planning for the upcoming season. Where oh where shall Jan jaunt in 2020?

Reconnect

The holidays and winter provide great opportunities to reunite with friends and family. It’s when I need more social time. My hiking groups tend to provide motivation along with face-to-face interaction during the dark, wet, chilly days of winter.

Rally

My coping strategy is to spend time being active outside at least an hour a day. This has made a huge difference in my moods. Embrace winter! I’m glad I enjoy snowshoeing and hiking in brisk temperatures.

Repay

Generosity seems to be in the forefront of our minds during the holiday season. It’s a good time to not only make my annual financial donations but also to thank those who’ve helped me during the year. I think about ways I might want to contribute in the upcoming year. Do I want to volunteer or teach? If so, where, when, how?

Resist

For me that means resisting the urge to overeat, be lazy and shop the sales (as I sit here staring at 5 down jackets, a tent, pack and sleeping pad).

Rejoice

I’m still alive and I’ve added another chapter to my book of memories! Hopefully it was a year with few regrets, good health and lots of laughs. If not, I can still sing my thanks for living to hike another day. I’m Alive!

Reset

Winter is my most challenging season. The shortened hours of daylight combined with rainy days can lead to the blues. I like many people experience Seasonal Affect Disorder (SAD). I feel a bit like a caged lion or maybe more like a tigress. Recently Anish (aka Heather Anderson) posted her thoughts on the changing seasons. One phrase caught my attention, “We’re in a season of darkness now. Look to nature. She sleeps.”

Life is simpler on the trail.
So many of us crave that simplicity.
It’s a place where we find our natural rhythm.
A sustainable pace in sync with sun, wind, moon, blossom, and Fall.
We’re in a season of darkness now. Look to nature. She sleeps.
She is not frantically racing, acquiring, preparing.
That time is done.
Now it’s a time for drawing inward.
Relying on that which was set aside already.
Holding tight to the fire within.
Awaiting the return of the light.

When it seems like there is too much busy-ness this time of year I take my cue from Mother Nature. I step back. I draw in. I take a break. Winter is for resting, preparing for another year. The trail gives us calm because it connects us to the essential ebb and flow. Holding on to that off trail is what keeps me balanced.

I know if I focus on the R’s of winter, I’ll be ready for the greens of spring.

2020: What are YOU waiting for?

The reality is time doesn’t stand still. Can you believe it’s gonna be 2020 in the blink of an eye?

I’ve met many people who think big but just can’t seem to convert that energy into wonderful memories of adventure. If you fall into this category, what’s stopping you? How many fantastic opportunities have you missed out on? More importantly how many future ones have you lost because your friends have given up on you?

  • One of the first people I mentored on PCT prep fell into this category. I worked with her on gear, training, realistic expectations, etc. but in the end it was enemies within that kept her from taking those first steps.
  • I’ll never forget a gal I met on a meetup camping trip. She’d come with her ex-husband. She told us she’d been trying to attend events for several months. Fear had immobilized her. She’d get as far as the carpool or meeting location but couldn’t get out of her car. By recruiting her ex for that first encounter, she felt safe and as a result became an active member of the group.

I think of my friends who set goals, make plans and take actions. They are the ones who have chosen to live in the moment. They know tomorrow may not come. Our health is not guaranteed. The forest we dream about may disappear in a wildfire. Other trails may be lost to floods, avalanches or neglect. Today’s perfect weather, wildflower explosion, or snow conditions could just as easily be the opposite. Air quality has become an issue with what the all too frequent large and long-lasting wildfires. Is the risk of waiting worth it? What will you regret not doing?

  • A friend works full time, he’s 60+ and yet makes adventure a priority. Sometimes that means getting up at 3:30am on his day off, driving 5 hours so he can spend the day snowshoeing up some mountain he’s been eyeing. He’s also been known to grab those enviable sunrise photos, and when I’m invited I say YES!
  • Another friend who also works full time, uses much of her vacation time section hiking the PCT. It’s a huge investment in money and time. The logistics are overwhelming. She balances life with a husband, pets, and the desire to meet her goal of PCT completion. She prioritizes an active lifestyle by squeezing in mini trips locally to ensure fitness prior to her vacation adventures.

I can go on and on about both doers and stewers. I’m sure you have stories of your own. If you’re a stewer, what’s stopping you from becoming more of a doer?

  • Chores or obligations?
  • Fitness level?
  • Money?
  • Companions?
  • Knowledge?
  • Time?
  • Weather?
  • Gear/Clothing?
  • Transportation?

These barriers can be overcome once you decide to prioritize yourself.

If you want to be a hiker, backpacker, snowshoer, rock climber, runner, whatever . . . just do it! Tiny steps lead to bigger ones. First steps don’t need to be epic. Just get out of your comfort zone and take that scary leap. Stop saying I wish I could but . . . Instead start saying YES I can and will.

Make 2020 your year of change!

Long-Distance Hiking and Backpacking Skills, Summary Post

As hikers get ready for another season on trail, I thought it might be helpful to provide links to a few of my popular articles.

Safety first:

Beginners:

Long Distance:

Navigation:

2017 PCT Hiker Survey Results:

PCTA Words of Wisdom:

Let me know if you have questions or would like me to cover additional topics in the future. Have a fantastic hiking season!

Finding Happiness . . . 7 years in the making

Facebook just reminded me of my first backpacking trip. 2010 was a GREAT year!

I started off with an inexpensive pack from Big 5 and a five pound Sierra Designs Tent.

Lessons:

  1. Capacity matters: buy pack after gear otherwise you might find yourself short of space
  2. Fit matters: just like your favorite pair of jeans
  3. Pockets and compartments don’t matter: so much wasted time searching for stuff
  4. Weight matters: grams = ounces = pounds = PAIN

Thankfully I’d already discovered the world of long distance hiking, and kick ass hiker blogs, so after that miserable yet enlightening trip, I got busy making lots and lots of changes.

Since then so many miles and smiles and memories. Unforgettable experiences. I found my tribe, my happy spot. 

Link to more jabber on Long-Distance Hiking

Hiking with Geospatial PDF Maps

More and more I’ve been seeing references about Geospatial PDF mapping. I finally had an opportunity to research and thought you might be interested in my findings.

Say WHAT?

Although I try to stay current with technology, sometimes I find myself saying, WHAT?

The word geospatial is used to indicate that data that has a geographic component to it. This means that the records in a dataset have locational information tied to them such as geographic data in the form of coordinates, address, city, or ZIP code. GIS data is a form of geospatial data. Other geospatial data can originate from GPS data, satellite imagery, and geotagging. Source: GIS Lounge

WHY?

Whether you use a standalone GPS unit or a mapping app on your phone, there are times when established trails aren’t visible on any available digital maps. This was the case for a local BLM recreation area I recently hiked.

This is what the area looks like on my mapping app. 

This is what the area looks like on the BLM standard PDF map. 

This is what the area looks like using CalTopo in Map Builder Topo format.

You can see the CalTopo map is far more detailed than either of the other two options. I could just print out the map and use it for navigation, but what if there was a way to know exactly where you were on the map?

HOW?

(1) Download a PDF Geospatial Reader app. The most popular seems to be Avenza. I haven’t played with the app much, but it appears powerful with a store to purchase map sets. But you can also use it as a free interactive reader which is what I did.

(2) Download a geospatial map. You may be able to find maps available in this format. Check out this list from the National Park Service. If there’s not one available, you can also create your own which is what I did using CalTopo.

Step 1: On the CalTopo website, after finding your area of interest and marking any details you’d like included, select print, center the red box using the red dot to move it around, change the parameters in the format box to “Geospatial PDF,” then select “generate PDF.” Note: you can make the map details small for this step as you’ll be able to zoom on your phone.

Step 2: I was working on my computer so I saved the file to my computer, then sent it as an email attachment to myself so I could download to my phone. You can also open the CalTopo website on your phone and go to your account where you’ll see a tab for PDF, then download directly to your phone.

(3) Open downloaded map using a Geospatial PDF reader such as Avenza. 

(4) Adjust your phone settings. You’ll need to have “location” turned on. To save battery, you can leave phone in airplane mode.

(5) Select the “location” icon to see your location as a blue dot on the map. It’ll follow you as you hike. On this network of trails, it was very helpful. Note: the location icon is denoted by the yellow star in this photo. 

I was also running my mapping app so I could track my hike. It was great having the option to flip back and forth between the Geospatial PDF map and my track. 

I could have created a track on CalTopo and uploaded to my phone mapping app; however, with so many trail options, I wanted the flexibility to explore on the fly.

Have you been using Geospatial PDF maps? If so, do you have other tips to share?

Resources:

FYI, you can now print your own standard PDF USGS 7.5 minute, 1:24,000 base Quad Maps

Dear Friends & Family, If I become a Missing Person . . .

Recent missing hiker stories compelled me to do some research on how I could better prepare my family and friends should I become MIA. This is what I’ve done to hopefully be found sooner than later. 


Dear Friends & Family,

When you don’t receive two InReach checkin messages from me (usually about 12 hours apart), these are the steps to take.

1. Do a little detective work

Call my cell phone, send a locate and text message to my InReach, check my InReach map, check my facebook postings, check my google timeline, post an inquiry to my private tracking page, message me on my facebook. Search for my phone (use Google Android Tracking Manager).

If no response nor additional checkins after another 12 hours (therefore missed a total of 3-4 checkins), it’s time to get the authorities involved. Yes, there’s a chance that my InReach is broken or lost, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. My consistent checkins will help authorities understand your concerns.

2. Contact law enforcement

Who to contact? Authorities in the county, city or national park from which I last had an InReach checkin (most likely a sheriff’s department). (TIP: You can start with a 911 call and dispatchers should transfer you to the applicable jurisdiction.)

What to say? You want to file a missing persons report (there is NO waiting period to file a report).

Details you’ll need for the report (TIP: Provide your emergency contact or support team a USB drive with the following):

√ Nicknames or aliases used by the person (include trail name if applicable)

√ Address and phone number (include cell carrier so phone can be pinged)

√ Physical description, including height, weight, age, hair color, eye color, build, etc. (TIP: include copy of your driver’s license and a current photo.)

√ Description of the clothing and shoes the person was last seen wearing, include size, color and brand if known (TIP: include photos of you wearing your various layers of clothing, including hat, sunglasses, pack, shoes, etc., plus your shoe tread and print.)

√ List of possessions the person might be carrying, with name/color/model of items such as backpack and tent (TIP: include photos of your pack, tent, sleeping bag, contents of resupply box, etc.)

√ List of scars, tattoos, and other identifying characteristics (TIP: include photos)

√ List of medications the person was taking, as well as allergies, handicaps, and other medical conditions (TIP: include photo of insurance card and doctor names)

√ List of relatives or friends of the missing person, along with contact information

√ List of places the person has been recently (TIP: include your trip itinerary. ReConn Trip Record provides a detailed form. Also a link to your SPOT or InReach map if applicable)

√ Description of the person’s car with license plate, make, model, color anything unique (if applicable) (TIP: include photos)

√ Description of the situation surrounding the person’s disappearance (TIP: discuss any weather, terrain, medical condition concerns)

Keep a record of the report. Make sure you obtain a case number for your missing person’s report. Write down the name of the person in charge of your case.

3. Push officials for Search & Rescue (SAR) help. You are my advocate and need to be the squeaky wheel. Stay in contact with assigned authority. Ask them to check on any recent phone activity.

4. Contact the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs). The US Department of Justice operates this system. NamUs lets you upload information about a missing person for use by law enforcement officials, agencies, and individuals. The site helps missing persons cases wrap up sooner by providing this information to the public.

5. Things you can do behind the scenes while officials are doing their thing.

√ Create a facebook group with the specific purpose of collecting and dispersing details in one place. Some have suggested Reddit is a better option.

√ Create a document/spreadsheet to help keep track of and coordinate activities.

√ Spread the word:

√ Create a post to my facebook asking if anyone has seen or heard from me and link it to a new group page asking friends to share to their page and hiker groups etc.

√ Create a flier with and have it posted at nearby trailheads, towns, roads, etc. Post the flier on the new facebook group page to be shared among social media including Instagram using most popular hash tags. The flier should include recent photos, contact number for authorities, link to facebook group page, date missing, last known location, etc.

√ Contact nearby forest service offices, ranger stations, national parks, BLM, fish and game, etc.

√ Contact nearby hospitals and coroners office.

√ Contact media (TV, newspaper, radio, etc).

√ Contact local hiking, equestrian, ATV and hunting/fishing groups.

√ Solicit search assistance (coordinate with authorities and/or SAR).

6. Stay optimistic, I’m a survivor!

I’ll do my very best to prevent you from ever needing this information. Just in case, THANK YOU for doing your very best to help find me.

♥ Jan ♥


Tips:

  • Dedicated Web or Facebook Page:

I created a private facebook page several years ago to help with the process. I post my itinerary and include a link to my InReach map. There’s also a file which includes my emergency contacts, medical information, cell phone provider, credit card info and the “what to do if” page. Photos of me, my gear, shoes, shoe tread, vehicle, license plate, typical resupply box and contents, etc. are on in a shared google album.

  • Emergency Device:

I carry an InReach because I like the signal confirmation it provides as well as the capability of two-way texting. I subscribe to the lowest level plan which is about $12/month. With that I send out a checkin each morning and evening I’m on trail, plus I send a map checkin whenever I transition between trails or go off-trail as well as when I leave and return to my vehicle. I also use it for weather updates and urgent communication. On the home screen it includes my phone # as well that of an emergency contact.

I strongly encourage carrying a device, especially when hiking solo, whether it be a PLB (Personal Locator Beacon) or a satellite communicator such as the InReach or SPOT devices.

  • Identification:

Keep your ID readily available for those cases when you can’t speak for yourself. I was involved in an accident where I was in shock and couldn’t answer any of the basic questions. After that I created a sheet I carry with me which has all the important information like name, address, medical history and allergies, emergency contacts, medical insurance, etc. Another option is Road ID.

  • Emergency Contacts:

Keep your phone updated with ICE (In Case of Emergency) contacts. Many phones have that as a special designation so others can access without needing your locked pad code.

  • Password List:

Consider having your list available to at least one of your emergency contacts. I have mine in my Safety Deposit Box.

  • Preferences:

Notify your family and friends of your preferences. Some hikers don’t want a search activated. Be sure everyone knows so SAR resources are not wasted and families stressed unnecessarily. If you are interested in rescue, how soon do you want to be reported missing? I have mine set to 24 hours, which most likely means SAR will not be activated for another 24-48 hours.

  • Hiker Ethics:
    • Be a responsible hiker
    • Carry the 10 essentials (and know how to use them)
    • Designate emergency contact or support team and provide them with your itinerary, etc.
    • Consider taking the Wilderness First Aid course

Real World Experience

On 7/25/18, I had to push the SOS. I was thankful I had the inReach, I’d set it up with emergency contacts, and I had my medical/emergency information list with me. It was such a time saver and stress reducer to hand the paper to first responders and hospital staff. Here’s the link to my story: Life Interrupted . . . Forever Grateful for the SOS Button

Resource Links:

If you have other thoughts, please comment so I can update my post. Special thanks to all my angels who keep an electronic eye on me. I appreciate being held accountable and knowing that I have friends who CARE!