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#183095 - 09/24/09 06:28 PM Re: Leaving a note before hitting the trail [Re: haertig]
unimogbert Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 08/10/06
Posts: 860
Loc: Colorado
Originally Posted By: haertig
It's easy to set finite boundaries in Colorado - usually I'm hiking in some mountain drainage and it's easy to keep yourself from "accidently" crossing these towering ridges on either side of you. They make great funnels to keep you within a well defined area, even if you venture off-trail. It's easy enough to get yourself temporarily lost anywhere, but not to the extreme that you inadvertantly scale a 14,000 foot peak and wander down the other side of it.

I concur that it's pretty easy for a guy to make like a gutterball and not be lost so long as he doesn't cross a ridge. That works nicely if the trip doesn't leave the drainage.

But for the record, and for those who don't know, coming down off a ridge or a peak is a PRIME place to begin getting lost.

The different drainages might be separated by ten feet at the top of the ridge where you choose the wrong one. When you discover you've picked the wrong drainage you could be a LONG way from where you needed to be. And you're downhill and may have to climb a ridge to get over to the correct bowling lane :-)

#183096 - 09/24/09 06:32 PM Re: Leaving a note before hitting the trail [Re: NightHiker]
comms Offline

Registered: 07/23/08
Posts: 1502
Loc: Mesa, AZ
Some great points on how to use a Panic Azimuth or Handrail. Its exactly how I use it for my planning.

I think its smart to add to a plan, if you can. Terrain dictates. Doesn't mean you will use it in any emergency, if your on the trail and that trail plan is filed with someone, it makes sense to stay put.
Don't just survive. Thrive.

#183113 - 09/25/09 12:52 AM Re: Leaving a note before hitting the trail [Re: comms]
raptor Offline

Registered: 04/05/08
Posts: 288
Loc: Europe
I think itīs good to emphasize which signaling techniques you would use. If you list what you are carrying SAR people can figure something out but I still think itīs a good idea to write it out separately. For example:


acoustical signals:
whistle with high frequency tone (3x)

visual signals:
3 smoke pillars
orange tarp
signal mirror flashes (3x)
big "V" or "SOS" on the ground built from available material

night time:
3 fires forming a triangle
flashlight flashes (3x, white color)"


#183117 - 09/25/09 01:15 AM Re: Leaving a note before hitting the trail [Re: raptor]
JohnE Offline

Registered: 06/10/08
Posts: 601
Loc: Southern Cal
I'm thinking a portable satellite beacon, Ham radio APRS, couple of search lights, and a really, really long piece of string along with my standard bag of small white pebbles oughta pretty much get the job done...


"and all the lousy little poets
comin round
tryin' to sound like Charlie Manson"

The Future/Leonard Cohen

#183165 - 09/25/09 04:22 PM Re: Leaving a note before hitting the trail [Re: NightHiker]
PureSurvival Offline

Registered: 02/21/09
Posts: 149
Loc: UK
Interesting thread guys.

Something I learnt from a very young age training for Ten Tours, D of E and Mountain Perambulations is the importance of Route cards.

Route cards are used in both the Mountain Leader Training and Alpine Leader Training.

They have three distinct advantages.

1 - When writing your route card before the trip you are studying the map of the area and getting some understanding of the route and terrain.

2 - During the walk you work from your route card, which already has the gridrefs of your waypoints marked. The bearing to your next waypoint, already worked out with declination. As well as other useful information.

3 - Your route card becomes your note which you can leave with a friend, loved one, hotel reception, police or rangers station.

A route card should contain the following information.

Main Objective
Magnetic Variation
Start and finish point
Time out
Estimated time back
Time of nightfall

Then you have the grid ref for your start point followed by the grid ref to your first waypoint. This is your first leg
The magnetic bearing between the two.
The distance between the two.
Amount of height gained and lost between the two.
A short description of the ground between the two.
And, the estimated time to walk that Leg

You then do this for each leg of your trip so that you have the grid ref of each waypoint and the bearing to the next waypoint.

With experience a route card can be planed so well that you can estimate an entire multi day walk to arrive at the destination with in minutes of you estimated time.

Further information that is added to your route card

Escape routes – grid refs of the places you will try to
escape to if something goes wrong and you are confident
that you can extract yourself safely.
Names of your party
Equipment of your party
Weather conditions for the duration of your trip.

On the reverse of my route cards I add an accident report form. This can be filled out if an accident happens, giving me a record of the incident. If I need to send someone out to get help I can give them both the route card and accident report on one piece of paper to carry out detailing all the information about the party, the route and the casualty, the nature of the incident, injuries sustained and the type of rescue that may be needed.

I leave a route card at home with a friend or loved one. If I am going to a remote area I will leave one at the local police station, maybe one at my hotel or camp site. One will be left in the car and I will carry a couple with me. One for my navigation purposes. And a couple in case of an emergency, one for my record, one for anyone that may need to go for help and one for the casualty which stays with him/her all the way to hospital so there I a record of continuity.

I have been using this system for over 30 years and it is a proven system that has saved countless lives in the UK Mountains and the Alps.

The best thing about it. By researching your route card, you research your route and the terrain. You have some understanding of the weather conditions you are likely to experience. You are making a very detailed and accurate record of your route, which you can leave behind so people know where you are going. Whilst on the route you can work off your route card with your compass. You may never remove your map from your backpack. It is ideal for working in bad weather, when you are tired or when you are covering ground with no footpaths or trails. There should be no sudden surprises on your route and if there is you know to stop and check the map as you have probably gone wrong somewhere. You have a record of your route so if you need to turn around, you can do simple back bearings to retrace your steps. You have thought about and planed escape routes, removing pressure and panic whilst trying to decide your next course of action in an emergency. You have a means of sending someone out with detailed information of any incidents occur and you have a record of it.

Finally when you finish you trip your can file your route card away for further use in the future and have a permanent reminder of every trip you have ever done.

#183169 - 09/25/09 04:38 PM Re: Leaving a note before hitting the trail [Re: PureSurvival]
PureSurvival Offline

Registered: 02/21/09
Posts: 149
Loc: UK
I recognise some people may not of heard of route cards and may struggle to understand my description.

Here is a website that has a couple of examples

The examples that are shown are very basic and mainly detail just the route or in a couple cases are specific to an organisations needs.

The more information you can add to your route card before you start a trip the less work has to be done by a person that may be looking for you or you have to do if and incident occurs.

#183171 - 09/25/09 04:53 PM Re: Leaving a note before hitting the trail [Re: PureSurvival]
comms Offline

Registered: 07/23/08
Posts: 1502
Loc: Mesa, AZ
Thank you for adding the link, I was reading your first thread and thinking, "Wonder if he has copy of that Route Card online or can scan it".

The G.O.T.W.A. I started this thread with is also called a 5 Point contingency plan, used by military units in the field. I like to use Phase Lines and other such military techniques on my trip plans but I am not on a comm. net to let anyone know when I have crossed a phase line, so its just an exercise for me. It allows me to break the movement into smaller bites for time lines, travel considerations, points of interest, etc.
Don't just survive. Thrive.

#183173 - 09/25/09 05:17 PM Re: Leaving a note before hitting the trail [Re: comms]
PureSurvival Offline

Registered: 02/21/09
Posts: 149
Loc: UK
The Scout Association Route Card that is shown in that link, is a vast improvement on the one they used to use. It is very similar to the one I wrote for my own needs.

Route cards are used buy many organisations in the UK and Europe including the military.

I find writing a route card extremely fun and I will spend hours poring over the map planning my route. For me writing a route card is the start of my trip.

#204424 - 07/08/10 06:30 PM Re: Leaving a note before hitting the trail [Re: PureSurvival]
Hikin_Jim Offline

Registered: 10/12/07
Posts: 1804
Loc: Southern California
What I do before I head out is write an email to my wife. Said email can be forwarded to SAR (or printed and faxed).

In the email (in addition to the text), I include a link to Acme Mapper that shows my route in a fair amount of detail. For example, here is the route I took last Saturday.

One time when I came back a lot later than expected, my wife did call SAR. They got a hold of me on my cell once I got into range. I told them that everything was fine and that I was just running late. SAR sent a truck up to the trail head and had me check in with them on my way out just to be sure. One of the SAR guys thanked me for adding my map link. He said it makes it so much easier if they really know where to look.

Anyway, I think Acme Mapper is worth knowing about even for non survival purposes (multi-person trip planning for one).

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