Saturday, August 13, 2011


The good news is that Jared Ropelato has been found alive and in good health. According to the Daggett County Sheriff's spokesperson, "He had done some hiking, but was in good condition. He told us that when night fell Friday, he made himself a lean-to and settled in for the night."

Nearly 300 people took part in the search before Jared was finally found nearly 5 miles from where he was last seen.

This incident is filled with lessons for us.
  • When you realize that you're lost, don't keep hiking in the hope that you'll somehow find your way back to where you want to be. Come to grips with the fact that you're lost. That means you don't know where you are. And that also means you don't know which direction it is to where you want to be. That's the definition of being lost. 
  • If you keep hiking, there's a strong likelihood that you're going to move farther away from your intended destination. Jared managed to walk 5 miles farther away from the last place where he was seen. Searchers will begin their search at the LKP (last known position) and work outward from there. If you keep wandering, you might stay one step ahead of the searchers in their expanding grid. That's why it is critical that you STOP and make camp. 
  • Another reason not to keep wandering is because you are expending energy and internal fluid supplies that you will need as the survival situation continues. 
  • Yet another reason not to keep hiking is because you risk injury the farther you go, especially as your energy begins to diminish and you become dehydrated or hypothermic. 
Jared was lucky. Searchers on ATVs spotted him. Being on vehicles allowed them to search farther afield than would have been possible if they were restricted to foot travel. Had that been the case, Jared might still be out there waiting to be found.

As I mentioned in my previous post, Young Garrett Bardsley was never found.

It happens.

The rules are:
  • Stop the minute you suspect you are lost.
  • Move to the nearest clearing that will allow you to be seen by distant searchers.
  • If there is no clearing, make an emergency camp right where you are. 
  • Don't wander off the trail you've been using, or searchers might pass you by without seeing you.
  • Start signaling immediately, using a whistle, a mirror, brightly colored items that can be easily seen from a distance. Use anything that creates a visual attraction (motion, color, pattern, contrast), and everything you can think of that makes noise. 
  • Don't scream for help — use audible signals that don't wear you out or create panic as you hear your own desperate voice calling for help.
  • Create an emergency shelter in a safe spot. 
  • Start a controlled fire (you don't want it to get away from you and burn down the forest) and use smoke during the day and the bright flames at night as signals
  • Conserve your energy and water supply. Pace yourself so you don't become exhausted or dehydrated. Don't work yourself into a sweat.
  • Stay dry and protected from the wind, to avoid hypothermia.
  • Take inventory of everything you have with you and think of possible uses for each item as you improvise shelter and other camp implements. 


  1. Reminds me of a class outing when I was a teen on a field trip into the mountains.

    I dropped back from the class, later I came upon three girls that also had. The difference was that they had no idea where they were and was afraid and 'lost'.

    I took them to the ridge and pointed down at our town, then took them on to catch up with the rest of the class.

    It wasn't rocket science to track 25 other kids stomping through the countryside.

    Isn't there a boy scout badge for that?

  2. But I've been lost, in big cities, looking for addresses. Was lucky to get into and out of NYC with an eighteen wheeler alive.