A reader who likes to hike alone in the Sunol/Ohlone Wilderness areas dropped me an e-mail asking for suggestions on what to do in an emergency, since there’s no cell phone reception out that way. A few things spring to mind:

Since you’re on your own, the first concern is avoiding an actual emergency:

  • Tell somebody where you’re going to be hiking, and stick to those trails.
  • Stay on trails.
  • Take a map.
  • Avoid the urge to get creative about climbing on rocks in areas like Little Yosemite and Goat Rock.
  • Take extra water so you don’t get dehydrated.
  • Avoid the cows. If you can’t, just walk past them slowly and avoid startling them; don’t get between cows and calves.
  • Take along a signaling device like a whistle or mirror.
  • Always have a first aid kit.
  • Take along a 10 essentials kit like this one from Tacoma Mountain Rescue.

Say you do all this and you still end up in a jam. A few things spring to mind:

  • Preserving bodily warmth is Job One. You can survive a few days with no water, a few weeks with no food, but lack of insulation can kill you in a few hours, if it’s cold and wet enough.
  • People have survived nights out in winter by simply refusing to stop walking until somebody found them. The flaw with this tactic: the more you move, the harder you make it for people to find you.

Main thing: it’s only an emergency if you genuinely need help to get back where you came from. Might be refreshing to remember that people have survived nights out in the wild for 50,000 years.

Any more tips along these lines are welcome.