Those heroic stories of people having to cut off a limb or survive on plant roots for weeks usually have one thing in common – they never needed to happen. Same with most stories of people getting lost and dying in the woods. In almost every case there was one important thing that they needed to do but they didn’t they didn’t leave an itinerary. When they were lost, hurt, or stranded, no one knew where to find them.

Most people who die in the wilderness could have lived through their predicament had someone known where to find them. People are always surprised when they hear of an “experienced hiker” dying in the woods. I’m not. Experience is double-edged. One side is that you have increased competence. The other is that you begin to rely too much on your competence, you think that nobody needs to know where you are and when you are coming back.

How to Leave an Itinerary

  • Write it, Text it, Email it, Print it – Just do it.
  • Write out Where you will be: If I’m covering some miles, I try to give the general area where I plan to camp. If I plan to make day hikes from a base camp, then I’ll include those. Additionally, give them your trailhead parking location.
  • If you change your itinerary: If you decide to add a day hike, explore an unknown area, fish a new lake, then leave a note at your campsite.
  • Give them your time out: Give your planned time out and give them a worry time, that would be when they should be concerned enough to check in on you or contact search and rescue.
  • Make a Call: Call your point person when you are within cell range again to let them know where you are and that you are safe.