August 22, 2011
Survival Skills: Blaze Your Trails, Never Get Lost - 7
by Tim MacWelch
Becoming lost is a common way for modern people to find themselves in a wilderness survival situation. Imagine how easy it was for explorers and pioneers to get lost blazing new trails through the unknown places of the world.
Luckily, becoming lost is one of the easiest problems to avoid in the wilderness. All you have to do is blaze your own trails, or mark which way to go on existing trails. A little bit of hot pink survey tape and a permanent marker can be a great addition to your survival kit. You can use this to make trails, mark trails and even leave messages.
If you find yourself lost without any survey tape, you can build signals and blazes on the ground so that a search party can find you. Rock cairns and stick structures are typical examples, and have been used for centuries. Techniques like chopping shapes into tree trunks were also used to communicate information and allow people to find their way. You can chop arrows into tree bark to point searchers toward your camp.
I have heard that there are places in the southeastern U.S. where there are very old trees with bent tops. The story is that the native people would tie rope to young treetops to make the wood bend as it grew. This would eventually create a bent top that would guide the way to a village. Throughout the forest there were trees pointing the way home, so if the children ever became lost the trees would show them the way back to their people. How’s that for blazing a trail?
Before you run off making new trails, always make sure somebody responsible knows where you are going—and when you are coming back—just in case you get stuck out there.