Up North: Tips to avoid getting lost during a Northland wilderness adventure

Alicia Tipcke
Updated: January 13, 2021 10:52 PM
Created: January 11, 2021 10:25 PM

There's hundreds of miles of trails across the Northland to explore. However with one wrong turn an adventure can turn into a search and rescue. 

"It's very easy to get lost [when] you step off the trail. You could be five feet away from a trail and not realize it's there," said Rick Slatten, captain of the St. Louis County Rescue Squad (SLCRS).

Slatten has been with the SLCRS for 41 years. He said they respond to about 150 calls a year to help people lost or injured in the wilderness. Following decades of rescue experience he's learned many important tips to stay safe outdoors.

"Once you're running out of daylight, stay put. We find a lot of people that have walked themselves right out of the search area trying to find a trail."

One way to avoid getting lost in the first place is to gear up. Pack a GPS, compass, at least two durable sources of flame, and hydration. Slatten also suggested saving your car as a waypoint on a GPS, and checking the direction of the compass before striking out.

"A compass only points north," Slatten said. "It won't tell you the way out of the woods."

Also be sure to communicate your plans with a friend or family member.

"Don't say when you expect to be back, say when do you want your loved one to call 911. I'll be angry if you don't because it means something has happened to me. So give your loved one a panic button time," Slatten suggested.

Another key tip is to be aware of your location. Know which landmarks are along your trail and how long it should take for you to pass them before continuing your journey.

Slatten added that you should never be afraid to backtrack. In the winter retrace your steps in the snow to find the trail again. 

If you do realize you're lost, call 911 and stay put. The rescue squad will come to you.

Credits

Alicia Tipcke

Copyright 2021 WDIO-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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