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Backpacker's Health & Safety The Backpacker's Health & Safety forum is for the discussion of health and safety/survival issues that directly relate to backpackers.


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  #1  
Old 04-25-2013, 03:44 PM
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Reality Reality is offline
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Question Tell someone where you’re going and when you’ll be back

What information do you leave with others when you go on a hike?

Most of us know or have heard of the importance of letting others know where we are going and when we plan to return (among other things), so that, if needed, this information can be used to assist search and rescue operations.

In another thread/ post, I read how dsuursoo has set conditions for the information that he supplies his wife with regard to some of his trips and possible delayed return.

This presents an interesting subject regarding what conditions and variable some may set with regards to the information (where, when,...) that they leave behind with others.

Like dsuursoo, at times I've also set conditions. Though I don't advise others to follow my lead on this. For example, I've said "if I don't come back by dark [on a day hike], I'm likely spending the night, so please do not call out the troops until dark the next day." I gave this condition because I had been experiencing some back problems and there was at least a little possibility that I would decide to stay the night and hike out the next day. [Note: I carry acceptable overnight gear on my day hikes.]

Setting this condition really isn't wrong, because in actuality I'm saying that I'm due back the next evening - but I could show up early.

The most that I've left with others has been my itinerary (complete with surrounding area details and my possible "detour" routes), a general list of the gear and supplies (food/water) that I have with me, and an impression from my hiking shoe. [I rarely do the shoe impression because I don't leave much of a trail. ]

Those that I entrust with my plans and circumstances are aware of my level of knowledge and experience, so they may convey this to any possible rescuers (when they inevitably ask the question).

What about you?

Reality
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  #2  
Old 04-25-2013, 11:21 PM
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dsuursoo dsuursoo is offline
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to expand on having conditions in the info i leave -

it's a bit of a whole suite of information. on a hike, if i will be hiking a trail, i am very specific about the trail i am hiking, and any possible detours i am considering. if i am hiking overland, i highlight the most likely route on a spare map, with the specification that i will be within about a half mile of that track(to either side). if i have a camping destination(say, at a lake without pre-designated sites), i set for myself a two mile radius maximum, again marked on the map.

this information includes weather forecast and a place to check current conditions, to see if there's a weather delay to my return. i also include the numbers for the local ranger office and/or whatever agency might be responsible for SAR.

on weather delays: my wife knows to hold off calling in the cavalry if there's anything like major weather until minimum 12 hours after it clears, IF said weather clearing is after my due-in time. she knows that my heavy weather plan is to find the first workable location that is safe, and bunker down for the duration. if weather has made me overdue, my priority one is to decamp and hustle back out as fast as possible, and that i will contact her from the first phone i reach.

for hunting trips the plan is roughly similar. i set a central location, typically an easily locatable landmark, and then set a maximum radius of ten miles from that point. i then highlight my most likely positions and routes through the area(this era of high-resolution terrain mapping and satellite imaging is phenomenal. even hunting grounds i'm not familiar with are scouted out ahead of time).

basic theory is, my wife calls in the cavalry, hands over the map, and they should be able to find me fairly fast. when i carry a VHF radio(FRS/GRMS band), i list on the map the specific channel set i will monitor if i'm overdue, and the monitor intervals(typically top of the hour for ten minutes). i will also note a whistle pattern i would use for location, and whether or not i might have signal flares(pencil flares).

i've been screwed royally in the past, and got lucky. if i hadn't been able to pick my kit out of the debris and employ basic woodsmanship and land navigation, i would be a statistic. i learned heavily from that experience and won't be repeating it if i can help it.
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  #3  
Old 04-26-2013, 12:25 AM
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Reality Reality is offline
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Good, informative post dsuursoo. Thanks for the feedback.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dsuursoo
this information includes weather forecast and a place to check current conditions, to see if there's a weather delay to my return. i also include the numbers for the local ranger office and/or whatever agency might be responsible for SAR.
These are two very good points. They can be quite helpful to those that need to make a determination or to send help.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dsuursoo
i then highlight my most likely positions and routes through the area(this era of high-resolution terrain mapping and satellite imaging is phenomenal. even hunting grounds i'm not familiar with are scouted out ahead of time).
I really enjoy pre-visiting hiking locations with satellite imaging. I've learned a tremendous amount about areas this way. Even those that are heavily forested offer some clearings and streams/rivers to investigate.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dsuursoo
when i carry a VHF radio(FRS/GRMS band), i list on the map the specific channel set i will monitor if i'm overdue, and the monitor intervals(typically top of the hour for ten minutes).
I believe FRS and GRMS are UHF, right?

I haven't brought one along much, but I do have a radio that is carried on some specific trips. It's generally when I'm scouting out an area (and communicating with a fellow explorer when we've split up). I see how they can be of use in a variety of situations. They could be used to communicate with others back in camp when venturing out (...).

But in keeping with the topic, I haven't yet carried one radio on a solo trip exclusively for communication with a possible rescuer. [I've posted another thread on the topic of Two-way Radios.]

Reality
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  #4  
Old 04-26-2013, 03:40 PM
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Kylemeister Kylemeister is offline
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Everybody going on the trip gets a packet to leave with their contact:
  • Name & cell phone of people on the trip
  • Emergency contact name & phone number for each person on the trip (so my contact can check with someone else's contact to see if a check in has happened)
  • Either a print or a PDF of the map of the area we're backpacking in
  • On the map, waypoints are marked. We provide a coordinate list for each of those waypoints.
  • We list an itinerary, and use waypoints as a reference. For example, day 1: drive to trailhead (TH), and hike to waypoint 3 to establish camp. day 2: hike to waypoint 8 and establish base camp. day 3: day hike to waypoint 10. Should it be necessary to send in SAR, this gives them an area to focus on.
  • The phone number for the ranger station for that area.

We also set a check in date & time. If we are 24 hours past due, call the cavalry.


Sometimes, one of the hiking party has a SPOT messenger. We send an update at least once a day from that night's campsite. We sometimes check in at lunch. The SPOT website has the ability to share a login & website, so people can actually see where we are when we check in. The SPOT service can also send text messages to phones, so the "We're OK" messages are delivered, as would a "911" message.
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  #5  
Old 04-29-2013, 11:53 AM
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EagleRiverDee EagleRiverDee is offline
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I always leave a trip plan with someone I trust. Either my husband- if he's not going- or with his parents if he is.

1) Where I'll be (usually I leave a map print out with highlighted route(s)
2) Planned camping location (general area)
3) Any possible detours, such as if I have alternate return routes
4) Estimated time of return and how long to wait
5) A list of the gear I have with me (SAR would want that)

So far it's never been needed but it's nice to know that if I was overdue someone would come looking for me. I do carry a PLB (McMurdo FastFind) also as an additional margin of safety. The areas I hike in do not have cell reception, so I can't call to report that I'll be late but I'm ok.

I would say the hardest part about this is having enough self-discipline to not go off-plan. Let's say I see a route I really, really want to try but it wasn't on my trip plan- I just don't try it. It's going to have to wait until next trip. That way I don't end up in trouble way off my planned route where no one would think of looking.
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Old 04-29-2013, 12:09 PM
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Reality Reality is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EagleRiverDee
I would say the hardest part about this is having enough self-discipline to not go off-plan. Let's say I see a route I really, really want to try but it wasn't on my trip plan- I just don't try it. It's going to have to wait until next trip. That way I don't end up in trouble way off my planned route where no one would think of looking.
That can be difficult, indeed. There have been numerous times when I wanted to veer off and explore another area. I cannot say I've always been a good boy and listened to my stricter, inner reasoning. But most of the time I did as you suggest and waited until next time.

I have left word that I'll be in a certain area on the map - within so many miles. Because there wasn't a trail, that's the best I could offer with regard to my possible whereabouts.

There have also been times when hiking in the SW USA that I've had to change course for water. And there was a time that I took a different route due to a forest fire.

This is where plenty of details, including tips from others that know my (most-likely) nature and thinking, can aid any potential SAR team with valuable clues.

Reality
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