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  1. #1
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    You're lost in the woods......

    All you have in your pocket is your Garmin 530/830 and iPhone (no cell reception). You turn it on, get a satellite(s), then what.......?

    Let's assume the case for a known legal trail. And a case for an unmarked, unsanctioned trail.

    Bonus points for creative ideas.

  2. #2
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    if I'm on a known legal trail, would I actually be lost? What am I trying to do? Get back to where I parked? Get to the nearest road? Find a particular turn to continue my planned route? Am I off of my planned route and need to return to it?

    Second, the scenario is insufficiently laid out. My Garmin would have been started from the beginning of my ride, and will be showing where I've been. Easiest navigation scenario is to backtrack. You can even push a few buttons and have the Garmin do some of the work (show you the route) and beep at you if you make a wrong turn. If an unmarked, unsanctioned trail, I'm unlikely to know all details about it. The details of the scenario will determine if I follow it or not, given the uncertainty and what I DO know about it.

    Also, before my ride, I will have topo maps and some trail database loaded onto my Garmin. The trails aren't routable, but I can see them and visually follow them. Also, with the topos, I can see the terrain so I can evaluate the feasibility of shortcuts if an emergency situation presents. I had to do this on a backpacking trip once to cut a trip short because I got sick.

    On my cell phone, I can pull up mtbproject or trailforks. At least one of which will have that service's database for the state loaded into it (Trailforks apparently deletes your downloaded trails when it updates, so check on it occasionally). On the known, legal, mapped trails, that can help. On an unmarked, unsanctioned trail, it can at least show your position between any known/mapped ones.

    I also almost always have a paper trail map for the place I'm riding that I can consult. Good maps with contours, roads, streams, etc can be great.

    Lay out a more detailed scenario, though.

  3. #3
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    You're lost in the woods......-harold.pptx.jpg
    What a perfect waste of time

  4. #4
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    Thanks Harold! I asked the question, because so many of my friends have GPS units and mainly use them for Strava. They would have no idea at all how to use them if they were actually lost in the woods. We have several legal trail systems here in NorCal that you can get VERY lost in, also much unsanctioned.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by 5k bike 50cent legs View Post
    Thanks Harold! I asked the question, because so many of my friends have GPS units and mainly use them for Strava. They would have no idea at all how to use them if they were actually lost in the woods. We have several legal trail systems here in NorCal that you can get VERY lost in, also much unsanctioned.
    That's a problem with GPS devices and smartphones, and the moreso the more "user friendly" they become. They make people complacent about their navigation skills. I see it in this forum, too, and I try to impress upon people that their fancy computer isn't a substitute for knowing how to navigate.

    Sadly, some never get the message. Some get lucky and never have trouble, but others get dead, usually when multiple troubles compound on each other in a "series of unfortunate events" which usually can be addressed with better planning and better decision-making.

    Where I ride in Western NC, there's a mountain of trails. Most are reasonably well marked. There are a bunch of REALLY good map sources for the legal trails, too, so it's not hard to stay found, so to speak. But, if you're negligent, it's also really easy to get yourself impossibly lost because of the steep valleys, thick forests, and the limited number of places where you can get views expansive enough to see the landscape as a whole.

    There's a scattering of illegal trails in the area, too. Most aren't too long, and they're usually VERY lightly traveled, except in a few areas. I honestly don't bother with them. There's so much great legal riding available that it's not worth risking a ticket. So typically, if I get to a trail intersection where there's no sign, I just ride on by. I get that there's a push for people not to run their GPS or strava or whatever when they ride something illegal.

    Honestly, if you don't have the navigation skills to be able to handle that, you have no business in those kinds of scenarios. Backcountry 101. Even where/when it's permitted to go off-trail/off-piste in any method of travel (hiking, skiing, whatever), if you lack the skills to navigate, you've got no business doing it and you'd better stay on the legal trails/developed areas. Too many mtn bikers ignore backcountry skills and gear because "I'm staying on the trail" or "I'll only be riding for 2hrs" yet it only takes a relatively small crash to potentially cause an injury or a mechanical that changes the equation drastically, especially with how quickly weather can change.

  6. #6
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    ^^^ 100%. I live in NorCal, but grew up in NC. I know the areas you speak of very, very well....or used to long ago.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold View Post

    Honestly, if you don't have the navigation skills to be able to handle that, you have no business in those kinds of scenarios..
    This is the rub of it.

    I follow a web publication for the Adirondack Mountains in upstate NY. Every week there's the summary of rescues as completed by the local forest rangers. There was one recently where 5 young men went up a mt. (Colden) on a difficult trail, were in over their heads, opted to go down a different trail and while still on the trail, called 911 as they had no idea of their location, where the trail ended up, etc... had no flashlights, preparations for spending a night - warm clothing, and so on. Paper maps ?, compass ?, not sure millenials know what that is.

    Mind that there was sufficient cell service to call for help, but they had no skills at even checking the terrain map on Google maps. Baffling. 3 were removed from the woods via quad the next day with hydration and hypothermia issues. Many comments resulted about how they should have been charged for the rescue and I suspect there will eventually be a "you were stupid" fee coming for these types of scenarios. And it's not like there's not signage at the trail heads warning of the risks in entering wilderness areas as well as what equipment to bring, a lot of people just don't read.

    Not sure what the Strava Only users think their GPS units are designed to do, it's called "Global Positioning System" for a reason.

  8. #8
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    easy, toss iphone in bushes, turn on garmin 830, open navigation, select saved location: Home, and off we go...
    All the gear and no idea.

  9. #9
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    "You're lost in the woods......"

    I thought this was going to be a start of an text adventure game.

    You wake up. The room is spinning very gently round your head. Or at least it would be if you could see it which you can't. It is pitch black.

    What do you want to do?


    Anyone remember that one?

    Hint: H... G... t... t... G...
    You didn't quit riding because you're old, you're old because you quit riding.

  10. #10
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    I feel like this should be in the NorCal forum...
    Death from Below.

  11. #11
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    Now, being serious:

    What are we assuming the "lost" person is armed with here?

    As you've stated, the person has a GPS unit, and has their phone (which presumably has GPS). Do they have Trailforks or MTB Project? Does their phone have a compass on it?

    If they have any/all of those things, getting lost should be nearly impossible. And finding their location and navigating to another, safer known location should be relatively easy.
    Death from Below.

  12. #12
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    This does not only apply to being 'in the woods' today...

    There's a whole generation that's always had a 'device' to show them the way. My kids are in their 20's and hardly know highway route numbers and what goes North/South or East/West. What do you do when the device is gone?

    Some things that help prevent being totally clueless and hopelessly lost:
    -do some homework ahead of time so you know the 'lay of the land' you're riding in
    -making mental notes of landmarks during your ride and durations
    -having an awareness of direction and topography as you ride (use sun, shadows, ridges, streams, etc)

    If you start to feel unsure, it's highly likely you can backtrack and get out.
    If your 'device' craps out without doing the above you are truly lost.
    12 Santa Cruz Heckler
    18 Kona Process 153 AL/DL (27.5)...:thumbsup:

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Le Duke View Post
    I feel like this should be in the NorCal forum...
    We're getting too many 'eyeballs' in the NorCal forum.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by 5k bike 50cent legs View Post
    We're getting too many 'eyeballs' in the NorCal forum.
    When I get back from lunch I’ll learn you good.

    My first response was a bit of a jab at NorCal.


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    Death from Below.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by 5k bike 50cent legs View Post
    All you have in your pocket is your Garmin 530/830 and iPhone (no cell reception). You turn it on, get a satellite(s), then what.......?
    punch myself in the face for having an iPhone, and at some stage I will most likely masturbate
    always mad and usually drunk......

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Le Duke View Post
    When I get back from lunch I’ll learn you good.

    My first response was a bit of a jab at NorCal.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Thanks LeDuke!

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by sturge View Post
    There's a whole generation that's always had a 'device' to show them the way. My kids are in their 20's and hardly know highway route numbers and what goes North/South or East/West. What do you do when the device is gone?
    Do you mean Boomers?

    I work with a lot of boomers and Gen Xers (I'm an X) who didn't believe me when I tried to explain the organization of the interstate highway system. The fact that you can tell which way you are going based on the number. And that the three digit numbers meant they were spurs of the main interstate system and may or may not reconnect based on the number.

    It's not a millennial thing.

  18. #18
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    First thing I'd do is throw my chamois butter and chain lube into the woods, I've seen that movie.

    Can't say I've ever truly been lost. The concept is hard to wrap my head around. Had a mishap in AK that put me 3-4 days further out hike than I was prepared for but still figured that out in relative short order.
    It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by WHALENARD View Post
    Can't say I've ever truly been lost.
    I think I can say I have, but the situation was only temporary until I was able to locate a landmark that'd help me pin down my location. Sure, each time I was some distance away from where I intended to be, but only a minor inconvenience. It's only ever been when I've been off trail. Never when on a trail. Worst that's ever happened with navigation when I've been on a trail is I reach an intersection with no markings, and things aren't lining up with the map(s) I had. But that's not lost.

    Once I had an interesting situation because of a local magnetic anomaly due to an iron deposit that threw off my compass when I was doing some off-trail navigating. Had no idea that I wasn't where I intended to be until I intersected a gravel road a mile or two away from where I planned. But with my map, I was able to figure out what happened pretty quick and it was just a bit of extra walking to fix it.

  20. #20
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    Find the nearest river and follow it downstream.
    I brake for stinkbugs

  21. #21
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    You're lost in the woods......

    Oh, I’ve been lost before. When I started MTB in 1990 in western NC trails were not as clearly marked. You could get seriously lost and you could have a serious problem.

    My dad is a Vietnam vet and taught me basic land navigation as a kid. Still use those basic principles today.

  22. #22
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    ^ I don't know, maybe it's a semantics thing but I'd call that getting off track. Anybody that spends time adventuring around is going to get off track now and again. It's when you can't reorient yourself that you're done lost.

    I'm a landmark and topo guy through and through. Infact I can't recall actually needing a compass per se except to confirm what I already knew, but I guess in that I see it's value. I only recently started using trailforks as there is a bunch of stuff recently reclaimed in the Cascades for which there is no good adventure map. Even then I'll study a topo before taking off and try to keep my bearings at forks/turns.

    A hell of a lot people go missing/lost, drownings, and fall off cliffs in my neck of the woods, including very experienced people. Enough so that it continually seems odd and something I've not got used to rationally.
    It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.

  23. #23
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    I learned about stuff like this long before PCs, cell phones and GPS...and mountain bikes. Orienteering was a big thing in the Boy Scouts back then. IDK what they do now.
    What, me worry?

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by WHALENARD View Post
    A hell of a lot people go missing/lost, drownings, and fall off cliffs in my neck of the woods, including very experienced people. Enough so that it continually seems odd and something I've not got used to rationally.
    That's because when otherwise experienced people wind up lost, it's NOT a rational thing. It absolutely isn't. Usually something has to happen that messes with rational thought processes, so they continually make poor decisions. An injury. Rapidly deteriorating conditions compounded with hypo/hyperthermia. Panic for one reason or another. For me, an obscene lack of sleep caused some major navigation problems once and I was entirely unable to mentally process the needed navigation skills until I stopped and took a nap sitting at the base of a tree right where I was.

    Falling off cliffs/waterfalls happens a LOT where I live and that one is usually just plain stupidity. People who do it are of otherwise sound mind, but they have not appropriately processed the risk of getting so close to the edge.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lone Rager View Post
    I learned about stuff like this long before PCs, cell phones and GPS...and mountain bikes. Orienteering was a big thing in the Boy Scouts back then. IDK what they do now.
    I dunno about Boy Scouts specifically, but orienteering skills aren't often taught. I learned mine in an ecology course in college when my professor was preparing us for a weeklong field study course where we'd be spending a lot of time in remote woods off-trail. And this was specifically for midwestern forests, where you can't see very far because there are few places you can view the terrain. It's not easy to simply orient the map to what you see, and a compass becomes a more critical tool.

    I've still got the $100 Brunton compass I bought back then.

  25. #25
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    There’s a lot of definitions to “experienced”. Witness the case of Geraldine Largay who had nearly completed her end to end Appalachian Trail hike before disappearing in the Maine woods, maybe 150 miles from the end of a 2100 mile hike. Many considered her to be “experienced” yet then got herself inexplicably lost. Many, many questions as to how somebody with that much “experience” couldn’t find her way out of her predicament. In the end she was only experienced at following a marked trail, plus whatever skills needed to setup a camp, make meals, etc.....

    Bottom line was she lacked skill sets to actually navigate off a marked trail. Had no compass, seemingly could not realize that self rescue was her only option. Had medical conditions that probably affected her decision making process. The idea of following the stream downhill apparently wasn’t something she knew to do when enough time had passed that awaiting a search and rescue was not going to happen.

    Kind of the same thing with the “experienced” hiker in Hawaii a few months ago, zero experience at what to do when you lose the trail. She got very lucky, many are not.

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by Catmandoo View Post
    There’s a lot of definitions to “experienced”. Witness the case of Geraldine Largay who had nearly completed her end to end Appalachian Trail hike before disappearing in the Maine woods, maybe 150 miles from the end of a 2100 mile hike. Many considered her to be “experienced” yet then got herself inexplicably lost. Many, many questions as to how somebody with that much “experience” couldn’t find her way out of her predicament. In the end she was only experienced at following a marked trail, plus whatever skills needed to setup a camp, make meals, etc.....

    Bottom line was she lacked skill sets to actually navigate off a marked trail. Had no compass, seemingly could not realize that self rescue was her only option. Had medical conditions that probably affected her decision making process. The idea of following the stream downhill apparently wasn’t something she knew to do when enough time had passed that awaiting a search and rescue was not going to happen.

    Kind of the same thing with the “experienced” hiker in Hawaii a few months ago, zero experience at what to do when you lose the trail. She got very lucky, many are not.

    Lots of very experienced experts have inexplicably made major mistakes that led to their demise in the midst of their expertise. Happens all the time, expertise doesn't guarantee perfection.
    I brake for stinkbugs

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    Quote Originally Posted by J.B. Weld View Post
    Lots of very experienced experts have inexplicably made major mistakes that led to their demise in the midst of their expertise. Happens all the time, expertise doesn't guarantee perfection.
    Willi Unsoeld

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  29. #29
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    Experience leads to complacency for sure. I've seen it again and again with rock climbers. I still assert more people...way more people meet their end relatively speaking, between Crater Lake and say Ranier. I've lived around and compared to other locals the frequency with which it happens here strikes me as bizarre. Take an area like the Adirondacks which has way more extreme terrain and weather with probably even more visitors and disappearing, or drowning, or etc. is pretty rare there.
    It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.

  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by fredcook View Post
    "You're lost in the woods......"

    I thought this was going to be a start of an text adventure game.

    You wake up. The room is spinning very gently round your head. Or at least it would be if you could see it which you can't. It is pitch black.

    What do you want to do?


    Anyone remember that one?

    Hint: H... G... t... t... G...
    ZORK

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