A quote from one of my favorite shows in the early 80's, HILL STREET BLUES, it was the closing remark that made at the end of the daily briefing. Sgt. Phil Esterhaus to the crew. It applies to police and law enforcement of course, but it also applies to all of us who venture out into the wilderness, or take a hike. The buddy system is extremely valuable. So is knowing your limits. Even more important is that someone knows where you are and where you are going. "I knew where I was." My Mom shuttered at the comment I frequently made as a child, when I came home later than expected, without any contact. That was the 60's, when we ventured out alone to friend's houses for long periods of time without checking in. Frequently followed by phone calls to neighbors and friends to see if they had seen you. When we go out on a hike, or a climb, or even a walk, bad things can happen. We forget water, we dress inappropriately, we wander off the trail or too close to the edge. Even if we are experienced hikers, this can be a huge threat. Perhaps the biggest obstacle is overestimating our abilities, or under estimating the difficulties. On Mount Washington, too many hikers are rescued in what appeared to be good weather, when the weather or conditions changed, and they weren't prepared. Water, food, weather gear and maps or GPS are essential to anyone hiking.
Tell someone where you are going and when you expect to return. Years ago in Acadia National Park we went for an evening photo shoot. Great weather, but in a remote part of the island with little or no cell service. A couple decided they wanted to hike instead of going to the group shoot, so they wandered off. When the group came back in the dusk (yeah, it was really dark, as all photographers stay out until the last light), there was no sign of them. We found their car, so we were pretty sure they were still there. Headlamps affixed, we set out in groups looking for them, calling out their names. Some wanted to head back and see if they returned to the hotel. We stayed out, and almost 45 minutes later, we found them. They started up a trail, and hiked in the woods, and then it got dark. They got disoriented, and the walk back actually put them further away from their car. If we had not gone looking for them, they would have spent the night out there without any food, water or shelter.
NPR posted a story of an experienced hiker having to be rescued despite being well prepared. It is told from his wife's perspective of the events. We all feel foolish when we do something that seemed simple, but became beyond our capabilities.
Here is the link to the NPR story. Please read and be careful out there. immersion-in-nature-naturally-can-be-risky