Lost On The Trail? Here’s How To Get Back On Track

I’m a firm believer that getting lost whilst out on the trail isn’t necessarily a bad thing – well, to some extent anyway.

If you do find yourself lost for whatever reason, you automatically go into survival mode and you can learn so much about yourself and what you are capable of when the situation arises.

I’d spent almost 12 months training my mind and body, and learning new outdoor skills, for a 10-day hike that myself and three friends were going to do through New Zealand at the end of 2015.

I’m not going to lie – even doing 12 months of regular hiking and camping was still not enough, in my mind, to successfully complete what we set out to do. But, we did. Well, the trip was almost a complete success.

It was on December 31st when we got lost in a cut-down section of the Pureora Forest in the middle of the North Island of New Zealand.


We’d left our campsite earlier in the morning and the plan was to head south for a portion of the trail, and then head west deep into the forest where we would stop for lunch at a hut and then continue further south to another hut.

However, given the lack of signs to take the trail west into the forest, we continued heading south and came out into the cut-down section.

Despite all this, we did have a map but given we were hoping to see a sign pointing us in the right direction, we weren’t too keen taking the wrong trail.

The last little bit of that sentence sounds ridiculous given what occurred, but at the time it made sense.

By this stage, it was still mid-to-late morning, so we had plenty of time and daylight up our sleeve.

lost on the trail

So, after much deliberation about what to do, we continued around the cut-down section for another hour or so before we decided that we were actually lost.

So, we stopped and sat down, took a breath, had something to eat, calmly went over the map again and sussed out our next move and how we were going to get to the hut we were planning to stay at that night.

One thing we had working in our advantage was that I knew an alternative route to the hut.

But it would require going back out to the main road and then take a 9km trail to the hut.

On the advice from my friend Matt, we all decided to head back to the campground we had stayed at the night before, got a lift to the main road, and then hitched another ride to the trailhead that took us to the hut.

And that’s how we got out of our predicament of being lost on the trail.

Getting lost can be stressful, however, if you are calm and are thinking clearly, you can get yourself back on track and where you need to be.

We had a few things working in our favour, and I appreciate that not every situation is the same, but I believe the way we handled it can be applied to any situation regardless of the severity.

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