True North Blog

Are You Prepared for a “Day Hike”?

While a terrific bunch of folks from Venture Outdoors met in Frick Park with instructors from True North last weekend to learn the basics of dealing with wilderness emergencies, a man in Orgeon started out on a day-hike.  Unlike the VO group, however, this lone hiker apparently wasn’t as concerned about the possibility of unforeseen dangers, or being prepared for them.  At one point, to stay warm, he actually lit his hat and backpack on fire!

Earlier in the day, the hiker had set out along a trail (apparently with no map) near the Columbia River Gorge in Oregon that he once followed seven years earlier.  Dressed only in jeans, a cotton tee-shirt, and a windbreaker jacket, he realized by 5:00 pm that he was lost.  Not knowing the time of sunset, he was surprised by the onset of darkness and he had no flashlight.  At 5:40 pm he contacted EMS with his mobile telephone who dispatched a Search-and-Rescue team which assembled at the trailhead at around 8:30 pm to begin the search.  In the meantime, while he waited alone in the darkness, at an elevation of roughly 3,000 feet, temperatures quickly fell to 35° and it even snowed a little … Which is when he decided to burn his hat and backpack.  SAR located him by 1:40 am, and by 5:40 am they led him to an awaiting ambulance.  Luckily, other than being shaken up … and perhaps suffering from a bruised ego … the hiker was otherwise unharmed and able to descend with SAR under his own power.

This may sound like an extreme example, but, sadly, this type of situation happens all too often, many times with tragic endings (even in Western Pennsylvania).  One reason that the Great Outdoors is so wonderful is that it can, and should be, accessible by anyone … Something that is refreshingly democratic.  However, the Great Outdoors is also not an amusement park or a playpen for our electronic gadgets.  While Mother Nature can be amazingly sweet and nurturing, She can also be amazingly brutal and unforgiving.  When we are on Her turf, we should be prepared to play by Her rules.  So, after having spent much time researching, and spending literally hundreds of dollars on, equipment and fancy clothing, it might be helpful to spend just a little more time and money preparing to use that equipment and clothing, and to deal with the unknown.

Kudos, then, to the recent graduates of True North’s Wilderness Survival 101 for taking charge of their outdoor adventures!


Erik Kulick leaning aginst wall with True North badge on blue shirt

About the Author

Erik is the founder of True North Wilderness Survival School. He is a police officer, EMS provider, a Wilderness EMT, and a Fellow of the Academy of Wilderness Medicine. He has been featured in national and international media, including CNN, the Associated Press, and Backpacker. To learn more about Erik, visit him on LinkedIn and be sure to follow him on Facebook and YouTube.

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