Hiking? Let someone know!

The story out of Utah about a 59-year-old hiker surviving four days in the wilderness with a broken leg offers an important lesson.

From the Associated Press:

A hiker who endured four days with a broken leg and no food and shelter in the remote southern Utah high desert says her faith and medical background helped her pull through the ordeal.

Victoria Grover, 59, a physician assistant from Wade, Maine, was recovering in a Utah hospital after being rescued Saturday in a rugged section of Dixie National Forest, north of the town of Escalante.

Grover set out on a short day hike Tuesday from Hell’s Backbone Road, and broke her leg on the return hike while jumping off a 4-foot ledge about two miles from the trailhead. She then holed up along a creek at an elevation of about 4,500 feet.

To say she was lucky to survive might be an understatement. If you know anything about the high desert of Utah, you know it’s an especially harsh, unforgiving environment.

While Grover claims to be a “veteran outdoor enthusiast,” she made one potentially fatal error: She didn’t let anyone know where she was going!

Authorities were able to locate her through a rental car agreement found in her room at a guest ranch where she was staying. The establishment notified the sheriff’s office when she failed to check out Thursday as scheduled. Grover didn’t leave an itinerary of her hike behind.

If it wasn’t for her rental car agreement, or the alertness of the guest ranch to contact the sheriff’s office, chances are highly likely Grover would be dead.

Always, always leave an itinerary of your hike with someone! Hiking alone isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But hiking alone and not telling someone about your plans is just plain stupid.

Click here for the full story.


Stay calm: What it takes to survive an emergency

Would you know how to think in a survival situation? Most of us like to believe survival is somehow embedded in our DNA, which to a certain extent it is. You can get by acting on impulse alone, but this will only carry you so far.

One of the better books I’ve read on survival is “Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why” by Laurence Gonzales.

Gonzales notes that when confronted with a life-threatening situation, 90% of people freeze or panic. Clearly the odds are not in our favor.

“Deep Survival” explores a variety of survival situations, examining how people responded along the way. Without giving away too much, those 10% who do survive tend to carefully assess their situation with a calm demeanor, no matter the circumstances.

This, of course, is easier said than done. When the proverbial shit is hitting the fan, staying calm and using your brain will be your greatest challenge.

Those who die? Well, they tend to do the exact opposite, as calm gives way to frantic. Victims lose touch with their mental clarity and thus the ability to think straight. Poor decision making is commonly responsible for people dying in survival situations.

Without trying to sound too macabre, you should contemplate what it takes to survive a potentially deadly situation. In theory, you’ll be a little more prepared should that moment ever come.

Technique is one thing. Practicing and familiarizing yourself with what it takes to survive is always a good idea. Survival philosophy, however, is just as important. Arm yourself with the knowledge that a calm demeanor just might make the difference between life and death.