The Lost Day Hiker

Do an internet search for lost hiker or hypothermia in the news and almost every day you will find multiple news reports of day hikers being saved, or recovered, by Search and Rescue.

Depending on which study you look at, day hikers account for 43% to 48% of Search and Rescue activities in the United States of which there an estimated 50,000 missions a year.

Day Hiking is more than double the next leading activity (boating) requiring assistance. Hiking also accounts for the most fatalities, approximately 23% in our National Parks; followed by suicides (12%), boating (10%), and swimming (10%).

Most rescues occur in the mountains, on foot, less than a mile in distance from the last point the victim was seen. The majority of these are men, 20 to 29 years of age, followed by those 50 to 60.

So why do Day Hikers run into problems more than any other group, including backpackers?

As is the case of with most situations in life, it is not just one thing, but a combination. Here are a host of potential contributing factors, that combined in someway, generally escalate into an incident:

  • Not carrying basic survival equipment
  • Poorly dressed for the environment
  • Lives in urban area, therefore…
    • lacks knowledge of environmental conditions
    • traveled too far and too fast to the area
    • not acclimatized to the area
  • Lacks awareness of:
    • travel warnings (or ignores => young males)
    • changing weather conditions
    • environmental hazards (wildlife, stream crossings, trail conditions, roads, etc.)
    • their own body’s indicators
    • physical limitations

In lieu of these statistical facts, we offer The Lost Day Hiker. This off-trail adventure conducted in the backcountry of the Appalachian Mountains will challenge you on many levels. In return, you will gain a foundation of survival psychology, an understanding of how you physiologically relate to the environment, and the outdoor living skills that will give you confidence to survive that greatest of dangers, FEAR.

Class limit is 10. Classes typically start on a Saturday where we will leave Dahlonega, GA at 8:30 am and return Sunday midday.  A WCC liability form must be filled out and sent to us in advance of the class to attend. We reserve the right to reject participants for the overall safety of our clients.

What to Expect and Bring

  • Moderately strenuous off-trail hike up to 2 miles with several hundred foot elevation changes carrying what YOU would normally bring on a day hike. Prepare accordingly for the weather and realize that when you look at the weather reports, they are usually for urban centers. We’ll be in the backcountry which could be up to 10 degrees cooler than the forecast, not to mention a higher elevation.
  • Camp chair for the evening
  • Snacks and lunch as only a hearty dinner will be provided Saturday night.
  • Tent or hammock for “car camping” if you decide to spend the night.