Before I set out into the woods, even for a simple local day hike, I always leave a copy of my itinerary with The Wife. If I am going with a group, we all leave that information with our significant others, or, a close friend or family member.
Before I go, I give the following information:
- Where I am hiking from (parking lot, trailhead)
- I send a link to a Google maps terrain map, wither an address or coordinates in the email as well.
- The route I plan to take
- I will be taking trail A to trail C, possibly going down trail B, and planning to come back on trail D.
- What time I estimate I will be leaving
- I think I should be at the trailhead by 9am, and on the trail no later than 9:30
- What time I estimate I should be back
- I estimate it will be a 6 hour hike, so I should be back to the car by 3:30
- The “time to worry time”
- If I do not call you by 6, it’s time to worry.
- Trail Maps (links, printed, etc.)
- Emergency contact information for the area (911, Ranger Station, State Police, Local Police)
- Car information
- Rusted out ‘76 Pinto with Flames on the hood, MA License Plate: IH8MYCAR
- Even if your significant other knows this, they may be rattled if you are missing, and having this information handy makes it get to who needs the information quicker, especially the plate number. I can’t ever remember mine, let alone think The Wife will.
With a group…
- Names and contact cell #’s for all other parties I am travelling with
- The makes/models/license plate numbers of those driving
- Contact name and number for those hikers, in case The Wife becomes the emergency triage for the group
- Assume you will have cell coverage at the trailhead
- Assume you will have even intermittent cell coverage on the trail
- Assume your cell will have battery life after your trip
- DO estimate the nearest close civilization you can use a pay phone or phone at a residence to radio back
In short – don’t be selfish, don’t be stupid. If you can’t make it out alive, make sure someone back in civilization can help you, and make it as easy as possible for them.
Additional Resources and Notes…
- The LA County Sheriff’s Department has a handy form here which tracks most of this information here
- If you have the $$, it is worth investing in something like a SPOT GPS Satellite messenger
- Try using a site like https://www.ineversolo.com/ – allows for creating trip plans, and has automated alerts that will alert your contacts if you do not close out your trip in a specified time.