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  1. #1
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    Any of you have a fear of getting lost (or actually have gotten lost)?

    I know some of you out west will probably laugh at this question, as your trails/environment tends to be a bit more wide open in nature, but here in the east many of our trails are in the deep, heavy woods, typically miles from the nearest road or civilization. Anyway, I have very few fears in life, but I guess one of them would be getting lost while riding somewhere deep in the woods in a remote location, in which I'd find myself screwed as the sun sets or whatever.

    The trails I typically ride I know every inch of, so there's no worries there, but occasionally I'll explore new trail systems here in VA that I don't know well. Since I often ride alone, and given that most of these remote areas have no cell phone coverage, at times that fear will creep into the back of my head a bit while riding. I've gotten lost on a few occasions in years past, including on one occasion where the map/trail markings weren't accurate at all, but nothing too dramatic or anything of the sort (your basic, lost for 30-40 minutes variety until I found familiar territory).

    Anyway, not sure if I'm basically alone here or if there are others out there that have the same fear. My so-called phobia isn't anything too crazy at all, but just enough that I have it in the back of my head when I'm riding trails that I'm not totally familiar with.

  2. #2
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    Nope.

    I make maps for a living.

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    i think the potential of gettin lost is kinda thrilling. Ive always been comfortable with maps, but that is the best part about going somewhere new. Just be prepared to possibly spend some extra time out there, and walk it out in the morning if it gets dark. Be prepared for it and bring a flashlight if you are really worried.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roanoke4 View Post
    I know some of you out west will probably laugh at this question, as your trails/environment tends to be a bit more wide open in nature,
    Right, no one out west has ever been lost in the desert or the Sierra Nevada mountains.

  5. #5
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    I get anxious when I'm trying a new trail by myself. park maps are notoriously inaccurate.

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    Not really. Since MTB season is typically in the warmer months I don't worry about getting lost and having to spend a night in the woods. And since I rarely, if ever, go off trail I think it would be relatively easy to make your way back to where you came from in the morning if need be.

    I have a great deal of fear when skiing backcountry or out of bounds at a resort. I have no desire to spend the night outside in winter weather and think it would be quite a bit harder to find my way out in snow.
    All good things in all good time

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    Lost? Been a bit confused for a few days, but never lost. That is part of the fun for me, exploring new trails and seeing where I end up. Besides, it is not like cross-country off trail hiking. Since you are riding in "deep, heavy woods" I can't imagine you are going off trail, so you should be able to retrace your steps.

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    My first ride on a mtb, I unwittingly went to the hardest, most technical trails in the area, because I'd heard they were "the best" around. I very quickly got lost, on a particularly nasty, technical section of singletrack that was steep, roots and rocky. After hike-a-biking my way out, I concluded that maybe mountain biking wasn't for me and wished that I'd bought a road bike instead...
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by jlmuncie View Post
    Right, no one out west has ever been lost in the desert or the Sierra Nevada mountains.
    ha, yea what this guy said, pleeease, the west has WAY larger remote/forest areas than the east (not bagging on the east, just stating facts).

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    Re: Any of you have a fear of getting lost (or actually have gotten lost)?

    There's an excellent way to deal with that fear. Learn and practice wilderness survival skills. That way, even if you get lost, you'll be far more prepared to relax and deal with the situation.
    It builds confidence.

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    Exploring is half the fun. I always bring twice as much water and snacks as I think I'll need in case I take a wrong turn.

  12. #12
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    A few years ago I was in Arizona and went to ride some trails near Prescott. I followed a trail that was marked but somehow got off the trail and kept following horse tracks and the trail kept getting more and more remote. I should have turned around but I had the feeling that this trail would eventually bring me back. Wrong! It got to be around 4:30ish and I was out of water, and I started thinking that I have a problem here. Then God sent two angels to rescue me. They looked like ZZ Top and had Western style pistols in holsters. The one angel had glasses as thick as pop bottle bottoms. A little intimidating but I didn't have many options. They showed me where I came from on a map and told me the best way back was the way I came from. I said that's probably not a good idea since I was out of water and running out of daylight. They said they would give me a ride out if I wanted to wait til dusk since they were going Javalina hunting. I said, sure. I didn't wander to far from their truck and as dusk turned to dark I started doing some jumping jacks to keep warm. They finally returned from out of the dark and we loaded up. It took us about an hour to drive out of there on some of the gnarliest track I've driven on. I thought we were going to tip over a couple of times. They didn't seem to shook about any of it even though we were riding on Empty. They got me back to my truck at about 8:30 PM and I gave them my warmest thanks and 20 dollars for gas which they didn't want to take but I forced it on them.
    My wife bought me a GPS for my birthday and I'm a little more careful now.
    Saddle up, Effendi. We ride.

  13. #13
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    None of the trails I ride on are HUGE, but I could definitely see myself over estimating how far out I am and if I can get back before the sun sets. Just another reason why everyone should carry a good flashlight 24/7.

  14. #14
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    Invest in a good GPS and take your time. Also, do your due diligence on the trail via the internet and YouTube and you should be ok.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by YetiBear View Post
    A few years ago I was in Arizona and went to ride some trails near Prescott. I followed a trail that was marked but somehow got off the trail and kept following horse tracks and the trail kept getting more and more remote. I should have turned around but I had the feeling that this trail would eventually bring me back. Wrong! It got to be around 4:30ish and I was out of water, and I started thinking that I have a problem here. Then God sent two angels to rescue me. They looked like ZZ Top and had Western style pistols in holsters. The one angel had glasses as thick as pop bottle bottoms. A little intimidating but I didn't have many options. They showed me where I came from on a map and told me the best way back was the way I came from. I said that's probably not a good idea since I was out of water and running out of daylight. They said they would give me a ride out if I wanted to wait til dusk since they were going Javalina hunting. I said, sure. I didn't wander to far from their truck and as dusk turned to dark I started doing some jumping jacks to keep warm. They finally returned from out of the dark and we loaded up. It took us about an hour to drive out of there on some of the gnarliest track I've driven on. I thought we were going to tip over a couple of times. They didn't seem to shook about any of it even though we were riding on Empty. They got me back to my truck at about 8:30 PM and I gave them my warmest thanks and 20 dollars for gas which they didn't want to take but I forced it on them.
    My wife bought me a GPS for my birthday and I'm a little more careful now.
    Yeah, I tried to circumnavigate Granite Mountain once too. After I lost the trail, I just cut through the brush and made a B-line for the roads. Got ripped up by the brush, but abandoning the supposed trail direction was a better idea at that point.
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  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by JeffTN View Post
    There's an excellent way to deal with that fear. Learn and practice wilderness survival skills. That way, even if you get lost, you'll be far more prepared to relax and deal with the situation.
    It builds confidence.
    Very true. Practice navigation until it's second nature. When I'm on some twisty singletrack, I might lose track of where the trailhead is, or where a specific point is, but I know a couple navigational truths. If you go downstream, you'll almost always find a bridge. If you go to the top of a ridge, you can oftentimes find clearings with enough of a view to get your bearings. It's a LOT more difficult if it's BOTH flat and densely forested. I am convinced that only innate skills can help you navigate out of a situation like that. Everyone has them, but you have to be VERY tuned in to yourself and where you are.

    Always carry a map. It isn't that big of a deal if the trails aren't on it yet. With a good compass, you can still pinpoint your location. Especially if you pay attention and have a good general idea of where you've traveled so far. With a functional GPS, you can pinpoint your location, too. Key is functional. If I'm headed someplace fairly small, I don't worry about navigation. When I go somewhere new and big with more severe consequences for getting lost, I double up with a paper map, GPS with digital maps, and compass. I have had my GPS die on me more times than I can count for a lot of reasons. I am confident that I can get out using other skills I have developed.

  17. #17
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    pick up a sas hand book. And a good knife lol.... Plus if your going to out tell some one give them a note with where ur going when you want to get back, If your gone for too long people will find you

  18. #18
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  19. #19
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    Yes I think if you're going to try a new trail system it's best to be prepared with a map, compass and or GPS.
    The GF and I tried some new trails a few weeks ago, nothing to vast but still they spin you round and round and it was overcast I could not see the sun but I had a pretty good idea of where I wanted to go. Asked a local we met on the trail and got directions out, it was little help, you know the instructions that are turn left at the two small trees then right at the small rock head for about bla bla. Anyways I turned us around and we got back to a road, now its pouring rain and cold so I pull out my phone and try to use the gps and no signal ahh great, just as we were about to make a choice as to head left or right an OPP came down the road for you Americans that like a state tropper. He was cool, told us how to get back and offered us a ride and to put the bikes in his trunk, I said it was ok we were only 10 minute ride from the car, thanksed him for his help and off we rode.
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  20. #20
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    I've got one of those little plastic ball compasses pinned to my Camelbak strap, it helps keep me oriented when I get turned around in a forest. The places I ride aren't in remote areas, though. As long as I keep heading in the same direction, I'll reach the boundary eventually.

  21. #21
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    There is some good suggestions here, and I'll add a few from past experience:

    - Stay calm: Breathe, relax, look up at the sky, oh what a wonderful life it is! Just stay still, take in the sounds, become one with nature. It is actually a very sweet experience When city-folk get lost in the woods, they tend to panic, and "run for the hills".. this gets them way off track, and even more lost than they were. This is not too mention that if someone calls the Rangers for you, they will have a harder time finding you since you are much further from the trails than when you were.

    - Turn that 2 hour day trip into an on-the-spot overnighter!: Take with you an "emergency kit".. a small tarp, a lighter, and a magnesium fire starter. Learn how to make fire, as it provides a very primitive, almost carnal, peace of mind for us homosapiens.

    - First Aid Kit: IMHO, the 3 most important things to take with you bike riding, in no specific order: A bike, a helmet, a first aid kit. Also learn how to use said first aid kit. It might save your life.

    Another thing that can help give you peace of mind is to take a Wilderness First Aid, or even better, Wilderness First Responder course. It does cost a bit of money, but again, if you are ever in a position to need it, you'll be glad to have taken it. A bonus: You get nationally certified, and can add it as a suffix to your name, ie: Joe Smith, WFR

    I would love to "get lost in the woods".. it would give me an excuse to take off work! (Of course, the people in the office would raise their eyebrows, they know the training I've went through....)

  22. #22
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    I wouldn't say I get truely "lost", but I like riding in unfamiliar urban environments... I recently moved about 15 minutes outside of a medium sized city in the midwest (about 150k residents). Last weekend I packed up the bike after work (around 1am) and rode around downtown and just generally all around the city.

    I had my GPS on the handlebars, and knew where I was parked, but I was in unfamiliar territory the entire time. After I got home, I found out I was riding through some reeeeally rough areas of town, but from 1am-4am, the city is extremely quiet. I saw one other person on the bike, a few cars, and nothing else. I had my GPS, cell phone and pistol (CCW) the whole time so I really wasn't too scared of anything at that hour. I'm actually going to do some more urban exploring this weekend in a neighboring area of town, it's a nice way of getting to know a new area of town

  23. #23
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    I once lost my way riding an unfamiliar trail in the Michaux State Forest in PA. I had a general idea of where I was and which direction to go, but then happened across the Appalachian trail, which is off limits to bikes, and walked my bike on it until I got to where I knew where I was.

    I remembered seeing it on maps and where in the park it went and knew it would eventually intersect a familiar trail.
    No moss...

  24. #24
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    I'm not putting you down, OP, but a good map, a good compass, and the ability to use such will put that fear to rest forever.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by phirebug View Post
    I'm not putting you down, OP, but a good map, a good compass, and the ability to use such will put that fear to rest forever.

    And until you have those and are competent with them that fear you feel isn't such a bad thing. Fear is a survival mechanism, and people who are fearless often find early graves.

  26. #26
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    I've never been lost, but I have had to spend the night in the forest a couple times when I've got too far out while exploring.

    I had to ditch my bike in the Sierra once when I had heatstroke on a breezeless 108* day. That was bad. I had the sobering moment when you know odds are you may not survive, and strangely, I was OK with it. Oh, and no one had a clue I was out there.
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  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by J.B. Weld View Post
    And until you have those and are competent with them that fear you feel isn't such a bad thing. Fear is a survival mechanism, and people who are fearless often find early graves.
    Yeah, but without training, fear frequently results in irrational decisions that really put a damper on things.

    Get the training. Practice it. With that training and experience, you will be able to make sound decisions when the fit really hits the shan. Like the moment you reach the conclusion that you need to ditch the bike to make it out alive.

    Or for me, it went like this:

    An excessive work schedule resulted in VERY LITTLE sleep such that when I went to work the next day (wildlife technician for the USFS, EXTENSIVE off-trail navigation required in rugged conditions in S. Utah), I simply could not navigate appropriately. I got myself completely turned around and thought I was somewhere else on my map. I was calm and recognized my problem, said "F it", and found a shady spot to take a nap in the middle of the day. After my nap, I ate lunch and drank some water, then returned to my map and compass and was able to figure out where I was and where I needed to go.

    If I was paralyzed with fear, I had a good chance of continuing to make poor choices in my mentally compromised condition and found myself in increasingly bigger trouble. You don't f around in the desert in canyon country.

  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by NateHawk View Post
    Yeah, but without training, fear frequently results in irrational decisions that really put a damper on things.

    I agree 100%, fear can be detrimental as well. What I meant was that if you do lack the skills and hear a nagging fear in the back of your mind telling you you might not want to go beyond your comfort zone and what you are prepared for it's usually a good idea to listen. Many Darwin awards have been given to those who ignore their own brains sage advice.
    Last edited by J.B. Weld; 05-11-2013 at 07:16 PM. Reason: spelling

  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by J.B. Weld View Post
    I agree 100%, fear can be detrimental as well. What I meant was that if you do lack the skills and hear a nagging fear in the back of your mind telling you you might not want to go beyond your comfort zone and what you are prepared for it's usually a good idea to listen. Many Darwin awards have been given to those who ignore their own brains sage advice.
    I would call the important quality humility...a lack of an ego. Fear may or may not be associated with it. Realizing, "hey, it is not smart to be 10 miles as the crow flies from the nearest road solo with only a small bottle of water and an underseat bag with a multitool, CO2, and a tube" in the first place is key. I'd say most Darwin Award candidates never have that kind of realization. If people had that realization and STILL made the decision to ride that trail anyway, have a serious crash, have no first aid kit and insufficient water, food, and gear for a night out and get eaten alive by vultures then I'd be with you. Listening to that voice would have kept them alive. Fear does tend to push those thoughts more to the forefront if they're there in the first place.

    When I make a decision not to ride a given obstacle, trail, or place, I can only recall it ever having a fear component when there are big jumps or drops involved. For me it's mostly a logic issue. Am I prepared for the consequences of an injury or spending the night on the trail? No? No ride. But then again, I also have very little ego, so no amount of peer pressure will convince me to ride something I have decided not to ride, or sway my decision if I'm undecided. But I've seen it happen far too often. Outspoken, aggressive people will persuade a meeker person, or someone who's trying to prove themselves to the group to ride something or somewhere they're not prepared to ride. Maybe not even intentionally. I've seen it happen where one person just decides to ride something or somewhere regardless of anyone else's decision, and the other person just blindly follows.

    Herd mentality? Brain functions disabled temporarily? Consciously ignoring the nagging warnings in the back of their mind in an effort to please or impress others? Sometimes it's hard to tell.

  30. #30
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    I take trail maps with me til I get familiar with the trails but I once got lost in the Schwarzwald. First trip there was spur of the moment and I didn't get any maps of the area. Just hopped on the bike and foolishly relied on my "sense of direction" and trail signs. Not being a native speaker, all the trail names started to look the same and it was hard to get a look at the terrain through the dense forest. Finally decided to get on blacktop to find my way back to my gasthaus. Had to try to get directions with locals who spoke broken English and my limited German. Lesson learned. I can't speak German to get by, so now I don't ride in an unfamiliar area without maps.
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  31. #31
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    "Deep Survival- Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why" by Laurence Gonzales is a great read and an in depth study on how the human brain functions during times of crisis. Very few of us have lived through survival situations like the ones described in this book and it's easy to imagine that people that end up in such pickles are usually ill-prepared, ill-equipped idiots, and there is "no way something like that could happen to me".

    Knowledge and training are beneficial of course but no one can predict how their brain will react in the midst of a desperate situation, and desperate situations can come about amazingly fast and often start with a benign or routine event (e.g.- a bike ride). The book details many true stories, in one instance a trained Green Beret makes several rookie mistakes that led to his demise while a seemingly frail 17 year old girl survives a plane crash, then does everything right and finds her way out of remote jungle alone after many days. The girl had no survival training or experience of any sort.



    Quote Originally Posted by NateHawk View Post
    Herd mentality? Brain functions disabled temporarily? Consciously ignoring the nagging warnings in the back of their mind in an effort to please or impress others? Sometimes it's hard to tell.
    There is a chapter in the book that explains this.

    "The word 'experienced' often refers to someone who's gotten away with doing the wrong thing more frequently than you have" -Laurence Gonzales

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    I was afraid but I've seen a few episodes of Man vs Wild and Bear Grylls taught me everything I needed to know.

    Here's a few things I picked up:

    1) Anytime you get lost, murder a caribou and drink the blood from the hole you put in it's neck (While it's still breathing)

    2) You can use the parachute you brought for just about anything. So the 3 most important items are bike, helmet, parachute.

    3) Sleep inside of a dead camel. Obviously this one goes without saying since we've all seen Empire Strikes Back.

    Thanks Bear.

    I live in Roanoke. Are you talking Carvins Cove lost or back country JNF lost? I've been hesitant to explore some of JNF mostly because I didn't think I was in good enough shape for it, but also because the thought of getting lost/injured on a solo ride 10 miles into some thick isn't the most comforting thought. But I think I've got the fitness handled now so I have some trips in mind over the next month or 2 I might not mind some company for. PM if that's something you're looking to get into.

  33. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by rmh2282 View Post
    3 most important items are bike, helmet, parachute.
    ...and an elephant turd in case you run out of water
    No moss...

  34. #34
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    Never forget to drink your own urine. Even if you are just a little turned around and may have an idea of where you are...it doesn't matter. Drink up. Don't want to risk dehydration.
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  35. #35
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    3 of us got nice and lost once in southern Illinois, which is actually hilly (more like Kentucky). No imminent death, just hunger and thirst. I don't remember why we got off trail and didn't just back track (that's the "boring" way out, maybe?). We made it to the shore of the lake and then flagged down a passing pontoon boat. They took us over to an area where a bunch of people were picnicking, etc. and dropped us off.

    Then, we figured out that all of the picnickers had all come by boat and there was no trail out of the area. I guess we headed through the woods in a direction chosen by the sun's angle. We came across a pasture heading up a hill to a barn. We tossed our bikes over the fence and climbed it. About 20 feet into the field and here comes a charging snarling German Shepherd. I remember getting my bike between me and the dog and thinking that my big ring may need to be used. I don't remember now how we even got to the car after the dog incident, but I'm sure the dinner and beers tasted good!

    I need to call my friend and see what he remembers!

  36. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by dft View Post
    ha, yea what this guy said, pleeease, the west has WAY larger remote/forest areas than the east (not bagging on the east, just stating facts).
    Having hiked and biked a bit in the Sierra Nevada and Rockies and (lived near tahoe for a few years) and living on the East Coast most of my life (I'm in Roanoke4's neck of the woods now in VA), I would say it is definitely easier to get lost here. Much easier to find your bearings most places I've been out west. Sure you can be lost 20 miles out in the rockies or Sierra Nevada, or the desert, but in the thick woods of the Appalchains, you can be totally lost 100 yards from the trail, with no clue which direction it is. Or worse yet (and more common) THINK you know what direction it is. It is very easy to follow the wrong ridge or hollow.

    Seriously, one of the things I really LIKE about hiking/biking out west is that I generally have a good idea where I am just by looking around. I can look at a map, look around and usually be able to tell exactly where I am on the map. Most of the time around here all you see when you look around are thick trees, even when you are top of a ridge, and if you lost track of your course, it is just a guess as to which spine of a ridge you are actually on. And even when you do get a view of the surrounding mountains, they all look mostly the same: green.

    And if you are in a flat forested, area.... forget it.

    Yes, there is much more extensive back country out west, but for a typical 2-3 hour ride, I find it way easier to navigate the mountains and deserts out west then much of the stuff right here in my own back yard in VA.

    Of course these are generalities, not everywhere out west is what I describe, but the OP's point is still valid for riders in quite a few areas.
    Last edited by kapusta; 05-13-2013 at 10:39 AM.
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    I don't even carry water anymore, I just pack elephant sh*t into my camelback and hit the trails.

    What's worse is over in appalachia, everything is wet so it can be a struggle to make an emergency fire to ward off the jag-u-ours at night, or however BG pronounces it.

  38. #38
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    Just pack a gun and everything will work out.
    15mm is a second-best solution to a problem that was already solved.

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    There is a small fear of getting lost inside of me, but there is a larger piece of me that gets excited about being lost. I always keep a small package of survival gear in my pack when I ride. Fire starter, emergency blanket, knife, food, and a few other things. I also always carry a handheld GPS.

    A friend of mine put together this post on a small and large survival kit for east coast back country snowboarding. A lot of the gear is transferable and very useful for mtb'ing.
    DON?T GET STUCK WITHOUT | Check Your Pins

    I bet if you put together a small kit and knew that you'd be able to get through the night, your fear would be greatly diminished.

  40. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by J.B. Weld View Post
    "Deep Survival- Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why" by Laurence Gonzales is a great read and an in depth study on how the human brain functions during times of crisis. Very few of us have lived through survival situations like the ones described in this book and it's easy to imagine that people that end up in such pickles are usually ill-prepared, ill-equipped idiots, and there is "no way something like that could happen to me".

    Knowledge and training are beneficial of course but no one can predict how their brain will react in the midst of a desperate situation, and desperate situations can come about amazingly fast and often start with a benign or routine event (e.g.- a bike ride). The book details many true stories, in one instance a trained Green Beret makes several rookie mistakes that led to his demise while a seemingly frail 17 year old girl survives a plane crash, then does everything right and finds her way out of remote jungle alone after many days. The girl had no survival training or experience of any sort.





    There is a chapter in the book that explains this.

    "The word 'experienced' often refers to someone who's gotten away with doing the wrong thing more frequently than you have" -Laurence Gonzales
    Not to nit-pick on this matter, but the girl that survived the plane crash did have 1 survival tip that her father taught her, which she followed to a T... "A major river will always lead to civilization." She followed the river, she was saved.

  41. #41
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    Eastern Ma is not total wilderness but you can sometimes get turned around. I usually carry ( and have used) a map, knife and lighter.

  42. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by phirebug View Post
    I'm not putting you down, OP, but a good map, a good compass, and the ability to use such will put that fear to rest forever.
    This is the best advice period. So many people rely on GPS technology and don't get me wrong, it's great. But it's the old learning how to divide fractions with a pencil and paper first before you use a calculator. You need to have good basic orienteering skills with a topo map and a compass first.

  43. #43
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    Find a survivalist and invite him to ride with you. Make sure he brings all his survival gear.
    Then, if you feel like you are getting lost, kill him, take his gear, build a fire, and start eating him.
    Warning: may contain sarcasm and/or crap made up in an attempt to feel important.

  44. #44
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    Times I have felt scared getting lost:

    - Numerous times as a 8-15 year old kid and just starting to venture past the neighborhood and backyard; out with someone older, where they apparently disappear; exploring shortcuts, new-to-me trails, or following game trails solo. Fear usually made me consider backtracking the route and not venturing alone any further.
    - Times I have ventured into unfamiliar dangerous areas: predators, parasites, poison, pitfalls or other natural traps (ditches, swamps, quicksand, thorny bushes), explosive ordnance, man-made traps, hunters, and areas that may have terrorists, druggies, homeless, criminals, security patrols that may be trained to shoot first and ask questions later, etc. Those times you decide to explore a bit further, finding out what's at the end of a series of trails, rather than turning back for something more familiar.
    - Being a significant distance away from civilization and not being able to continue on at a "normal pace", experiencing a mechanical, injury, food/drink shortage, lack of light, weather, etc. and taking shortcuts.

    Most of the fear above can be countered by preparation and knowledge. How much prep and knowledge you require, depends on how far from civilization you are. Heading into the unknown world brings a lot of anxiety, if you're not the reckless type. I wouldn't brag about not fearing getting lost if I were a moderately fit and wise matured adult living in well-civilized area. Having your own car at the trailhead and a form of communication that works out in the wild, greatly reduces the perceived distance to civilization. A compass and being familiar with the top-down layout of the area is great knowledge for navigation purposes, to eliminate fear from being lost. If you ride near muggers/thieves, near military training ranges, minefields, old war torn areas, wild areas full of poisonous snakes, mosquitoes carrying disease, etc. well, it's good to know what you're dealing with with more intimately to be able to accept those risks. Humans are the most unpredictable, so it may be good move in groups in order to maintain your position on "top of the food chain", to discourage the opportunists. Either way, a good dose of natural adrenaline or maybe at least some willpower and the senses and mind to put it to good use can get you out of some situations.

    Learn to live a bit wild maybe. A nice camping trip without all the fancy miniaturized packable civilized stuff might prime ya for some worst case scenarios. Good to get out of your comfort zone, but helps to put a bit more thought into it, rather than simply deciding based on a whim. Just need to stop being lazy and ignorant, or just spend the $$$ on equipment that lets you cheat like GPS, Spot, a weapon, and a bike that can almost auto-pilot itself on trails like a 29er FS.

    Doesn't help to see things like this:

    Spec E29c
    Niner ROS9 SS
    Trek Crockett

    Be part of the solution, not the pollution.

  45. #45
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    I keep trying to get lost but I can't. I am a god-damned homing pigeon.

    Just kidding. Actually, I only ever do some . . . "inadvertant exploring" when I try to do a loop instead of an out-and-back. Only time it ever made me the slightest bit nervous was going for a run up to the Hoheneufen in Germany. I was supposed to meet someone for dinner so I tried to shortcut it back. Made it down eventually but far from the spot expected and well after I expected to be done. Only reason I was so nervous is that my german sucks.

    I have, in the past, made the mistake of relating to my wife my "exploring". She bought me a GPS that I use about half the time, just to track mileage and share rides with friends. Still not terribly useful without a good map. Emphasis on good map. I've ridden Hurkey Creek a few times and the map I use invariably leaves out some of the little side trails. I go exploring on those and have to keep an eye on descent slope so I can make sure I can return without doing a hike-a-bike.

    I've found that when I'm riding a new trail, the best strategy (if I'm under a deadline) is to do it as an out-and-back so I'm never lost. I'm at a point now where I know the local trails well enough that I can time a ride to within five minutes of a target duration, which is actually kind of a bummer. Nothing like fresh trails to get your stoke on.

  46. #46
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    In my previous life I did cultural resource management and worked for a small archaeological contracting company in the Four Corners area, where UT, CO, AZ, NM meet. Almost all of our work was related to oil and gas exploration on public lands and and a lot of the time we worked solo. Each work day I headed out with a packet of maps to my project area for the day, found the seismic line laid out by the surveyors and inventoried and flagged off every archaeological site in the survey corridor. This is rugged, empty country and work days, particularly in early summer, were long. One evening, I finished recording a site and started to walk back to my truck, which was not far away. The mesa top pinon-juniper forest where I was working was fairly featureless and for about 20 minutes there was total disorientation, because the two-track dirt road where my truck was parked was not where I thought it would be, light was pretty much gone, night sounds were coming on, and I could feel panic trying to seep in from the edges of my mind. Which was the point where I finally found the road & my little white truck like a beacon in the dark....and realized that I had locked myself out of the truck....and then remembered the hide-a-key.
    Although I love to camp out, I did know, in a deep and visceral way, that I did NOT want to spend the night out alone in the woods -- definitely some type of ancient primal fear.

  47. #47
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    Quote Originally Posted by RandomGuyOnABike View Post
    Not to nit-pick on this matter, but the girl that survived the plane crash did have 1 survival tip that her father taught her, which she followed to a T... "A major river will always lead to civilization." She followed the river, she was saved.

    Well it's been quite a while since I've read that book and I know I can't remember a lot of the details but I still think the statement I made is true- the girl had no survival training or experience.

    And most armchair survivalists severely overestimate their skills.

  48. #48
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    Oh yea, she didn't have formal survival training, but that one tip that her dad told her saved her life. It's also a good tip for the OP

    to the OP, if you're really terrified of getting lost, I can suggest something else: the civilian-based SERE school at SERE Training | Survival School

  49. #49
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    Anyone who thinks navigating in the west is cake walk needs to read Tom Mahood's blog.

    The Hunt for the Death Valley Germans

    You mught know where you are when lost out west, but then that just means you know where you're gonna die. If you think finding a road is your salvation, we have roads that go for a hundred miles to nowhere and that get driven once or twice a year or never at all.

    I grew up on the east coast and have hiked the Appalachian Trail all through Georgia and North Carolina. My oldest brother was an outfitter at Mountain Crossings in Georgia.

    I've read and heard about many, many rescues on blue blaze and white blaze trails.

    Out here you read about as many recoveries as you do rescues. In the east, you might end up drinking some water that will give you giardia. Out here, you won't get to have the shits, because there is no water.

    Get up into Inyo National Forest, Sequoia National Forest, Kings Canyon, even Cleavland and Angeles National Forests. You can get mighty lost, mighty fast and just like in the east, you can go in circles a 100 yds from the trail and never find it. Get out to Anza Borrego, the Mohave, Death Valley and the Sonoran Deserts and you can be dead before you know why.

    I love the east coast. I LOVE the Appalachian Trail, but when it comes to getting lost, the trail systems there will test you. When it comes to getting lost out here, the trail systems kill you.

    I know people get themselves killed out east all the time, but there is just something treacherous and sinister about the environment here. With a compass out east I can walk out. Even with a compass out here, and even knowing exactly where I need to be, and exactly how far I need to go, I can still easily get myself killed just from exposure...

    My day packs in the east pale in comparison to what I carry out here. My wife laughs at me, but she knows that I carry what I do for a reason.

  50. #50
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    Never lost but just a little off route. After spending my youth as a climbing junkie, I can think of a few chilly nights waiting for light to re appear so we could get back on course and find our way out. Positive Mental Attitude is the key. When it's three AM Monday morning and you know you have to be at work by eight, rest assured knowing that when it starts to get light, you will find your way and get to a phone in time to call out sick.

    Played that scenario out a few times.

    That said, I think these new fangled electronic devices have removed a bit of the thrill and I still remember my feelings the first time I saw someone using a cell phone on the summit of Rainier. Seems like GPS works pretty good from what I read here. Can't complain too much though, I think it is generational because I sure felt cool with my first altimeter and being able to use it to pinpoint what contour line we were on in a white out.
    Seek: Koski Trailmaster. Breezer Series 2 or 3. Cunningham Racer.

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