With all the miles I’ve trekked through the wilderness in my life, it’s amazing that I haven’t gotten lost more often. To be clear, I have been lost many times, but I always found my way back. There was only one time when I had to spend the night out away from camp, and even then I wasn’t lost by the time I decided to spend the night out. I was elk hunting during the archery season in the Colorado mountains in late September, and I had been out hunting since before sunrise. It was near sunset when I realized I wasn’t where I thought I was. When I finally came to Service Creek at the base of a drainage, it was then that I knew where I was. The only problem was that I was about six miles from camp.
I was dead tired, and after some careful thought I decided to spend the night out rather than hike all that way back to camp. It turned out to be a fine decision, but I learned a lot of things that night. This was a long time ago, long before I made sure I had an emergency blanket in my pack, or the right survival gear, or a day’s worth of food and extra clothes. I left camp with a day’s worth of food, but that was gone by the time I realized I wouldn’t be getting any dinner that night. I did have some basic survival gear with me, like water and purification tablets, a knife, a map and compass (yet they didn’t keep me from getting lost in the first place), fire starting materials, and a rain coat.
I found a shell of an old log cabin that was probably 100 years old not far from the creek. There was no shelter to be had in the remains of that cabin, but it somehow made me feel comfortable being near it. The forest service, or somebody, had cut up a ton of huge logs within the previous year or so, and there was plenty of firewood laying around for me to burn. The skies were clear, and it was already pretty cold, so I started a fire and built it up to about three foot tall flames with the massive logs on the ground.
As long as I stayed close to the fire, I was warm, which meant that I slept on the ground right next to the huge fire. I didn’t really sleep a lot that night, but I got a little bit of rest. I was so hungry, but I had nothing at all to eat. It was a long night, and I was pleasantly awakened by a bugling bull across the meadow as the day’s first light came into the valley. While I was excited about the bull, that didn’t last long, all I wanted to do was get to camp, eat something, and take a good nap. As tired as I was, I made those six miles back to camp that morning probably faster than I have ever covered six miles in the rugged mountains.
My reason for this story tonight is to illustrate the importance of being prepared, which I wasn’t, and also to talk about a new product that I have available to you which I think is a great product. It is the Brunton Get Me Back Mini GPS. If I would have had one of these with me on that night, I would have been sleeping in my sleeping bag with a full stomach. What is remarkable about this product is that it is inexpensive, easy to operate, and is a true GPS.
GPS stands for Global Positioning System, it uses 24 satellites that were put into orbit by the US Department of Defense. Originally intended for military use, in the late 1980’s the government decided to make this service available to civilians. It is available in all types of weather, anywhere in the world, and it is free for you and me to use, as long as you have a GPS device which can receive signals from those satellites. It’s really pretty amazing technology, and to think that you could use this for the cost of the Mini GPS ($75) is quite a deal. I have used other GPS products which all worked great, but they cost considerably more, like $200 or more. Sure, these other devices have a lot more functionality, like integration with topographic maps, 3-D graphics, etc, but all I needed that night would have been a mini GPS to point me the way back to camp.
What’s nice about this product (found at https://www.bearmilleroutdoors.com/product/mini-gps/) is that it is very easy to use, even for finding your car after a football game, or for simple day hikes or fishing excursions. You don’t have to learn a lengthy user manual to figure out how to find a direct line back to where you started. The battery life is 13 hours, which should last you at least a week in the mountains if you only turn it on when you need it, it’s not the type of device that you need to leave on constantly.
I highly encourage you to check out this product, it could save your life sometime, or at least keep you from spending a hungry night out in the cold!