I was watching two young people somewhere between the ages of 18 and 25 who got lost somewhere in the wildernesses of California. California, like many of the western states one can easily get lost in wilderness areas with no one at all for 20 to 50 to 100 miles. This isn't unusual and likely many die because of not understanding the dangers they are in. Two days with water from a river but no food or sleeping bags or camping equipment (they got lost just out on a day hike) in the mountain wildernesses. There are a lot of places like this especially in the Sierras, or Cascades in the Northern part of the State near Oregon and Nevada. Also, there are a lot of places like this between Klamath Knot and the coast there at Arcata and up north to the California Oregon Border.
Anyway, they found a tent of a man in his 60s and later found his body (1 year later). They were so remote that when the young man found the body of the man in his 60s that he set fire to the wilderness as a last hope of survival for he and his girlfriend because at that point they hadn't had any food for 4 days to a week and were regularly hallucinating from cold and no food. However, they did find matches in a plastic bag with the dead man's gear at his camp site.
By setting the fire it brought in a helicopter which saved their lives. Luckily the fire burned out and put itself out so they likely were not charged with arson in a wilderness area for saving their own lives.
When I grew up in the 1950s it was much more common for young people like myself to be trained in wilderness survival skills by their parents and grandparents because the west was even wilder then than now and there were then only 2 billion people on earth so the west was not as developed and often if you didn't have survival skills you would not survive if you went hiking and got lost then. So, learning what to do and what not to do kept people alive then. However, people are much more citified and not trained in these ways like they once were.
So, I thought I might give some pointers to those with little or no experience in getting lost in the wilds of the western states today:
First of all if you are young it is important not to go into the wilderness high on alcohol or drugs unless you are very familiar with the area, and even then being altered in any way might cause you to fall down, sprain your ankle so you can't walk, or break an ankle or arm in a fall or get a concussion if you fall against a rock and not be able to fully understand what is happening to you or where you are. Also, checking weather reports since they are more accurate now than when I grew up might save your lives too. Especially when it is really hot or cold you need to know the conditions day and night wherever you are. For example, if you are in the deserts or mountains it is not unusual any time of year for temperatures to move 50 to 70 degrees in one 24 hour period. So, you might be walking along happily on a trail in 60 or 70 degrees Fahrenheit in the day time and it could get in the same place out in the open 20 to 30 degrees at night. So, if you don't have a jacket and water and a wool hat and gloves you might not survive the night if you get lost or injured.
So, I always make sure when hiking in the deserts or mountains to take a small container of water that I can refill in an emergency, a protein bar or nuts like almonds or walnuts or cashews so I have enough protein to get out the next day if something happens and I am forced to stay overnight somewhere without a sleeping bag or tent. Being prepared (Be Prepared) like the Boy Scout motto says is how you actually rather than theoretically survive near death wilderness experiences in the Western States or anywhere wild in the world.
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