Preparing appropriately before a hike or trip can make a difference if you become lost in the wilderness. Plan ahead and pack the right equipment. Two of the most important navigational tools are a topographical map and a compass, though a hand-held GPS device can replace both. A fire-starter kit can also be crucially helpful. If hiking in the winter, pack at least one compact jacket that is capable of insulating human body heat in sub-zero temperature, especially if hiking in New York's northern forests where temperatures can average 40 degrees F or lower.
Educating yourself on the local terrain is important. New York's wilderness regions can have very varied terrain, ranging from plains to steep mountains. Read a trail guide and review a map. Know what landmarks to look for along the hike to ensure you are on track, and know basic directions so you know which direction to go should you lose your way and fall off the path. A popular navigational method is to look for any rivers or utility lines charted on the map and know where they lead. This can guide you out of the wilderness should you get lost.
Edible plants can provide critical energy and nutrients if you are lost for an extended period of time and have eaten all of the food you packed. There are many wild plants in New York's forests and mountains that can provide nourishment. Common edible plants found growing wild in New York include lamb's quarters, day-flowers and dandelions. In shaded areas, individuals may also find berry shrubs such as raspberries and wild strawberries. In addition, New York has many nut-producing trees, including beech trees and hickory trees.
Hikers should always pack extra water when hiking or exploring unfamiliar territory. Bring a portable water filter, such as the type that you can screw onto the top of a standard plastic water bottle, so you can safely drink river, stream or pond water. If you do not have a filter and are lost, look for the safest and freshest water available. Avoid still or stagnant water, and try to locate fast-moving water that is clear and in an open area away from runoff or trees. The closest you can get to the spring, the better. If the only water you can find is dirty, run it through a rudimentary filter by straining the water through a shirt.
Article Written By Josh Duvauchelle
Josh Duvauchelle is an editor and journalist with more than 10 years' experience. His work has appeared in various magazines, including "Honolulu Magazine," which has more paid subscribers than any other magazine in Hawaii. He graduated with honors from Trinity Western University, holding a Bachelor of Arts in professional communications, and earned a certificate in applied leadership and public affairs from the Laurentian Leadership Centre.