During April, two women went missing and were subsequently found dead while out on casual day hikes in my "backyard" of Mt. Tamalpais. Although no official cause of death has been stated for either case, and yes, this could all be explained away as merely accidental coincidence, it got me thinking. In a post 127 Hours era, many of us are accustomed to leaving notes or bringing some sort of communication device when we head out on major epics. But what about the everyday adventures?
My girlfriends and I have a pact—we will always be each other's safety whenever any of us goes on an adventure. A simple email or text message is all that is required to let each other know the plans for the day/week and again when we arrive back safe.
But how many of us do the same when we head out our back door for a quick trail run or ride? Both women went for a simple hike that day and never returned. One woman was not even listed as missing for over a week, and that was only after park rangers noticed her car had not moved from the parking lot for quite some time. Would the outcome have been different if someone knew roughly what time she was supposed to be done with her hike? We will probably never know.
I caught myself the other day—I needed to get away from the computer and go for a quick hike to clear my head. About an hour in, it dawned on me that not a single soul knew I was even out there, let alone what trail I was hiking. I quickly sent a text to let someone know my plan.
Yes, you should still be able to escape into nature and get away from it all, but it can't hurt to let someone know. It's simple, takes no time, and there are plenty of devices, apps, or a simple pen and paper that will do the job.
One app I find intriguing is Kitestring. Unlike most safety or location apps, Kitestring does not require you to do anything in order to trigger an alarm. In fact, it works just the opposite. If you don't respond to status texts, the app alerts your emergency contacts. Think about it—if something bad happens to you, it is unlikely you will be able to get to your phone in time. Just don't forget to answer the status checks.
So what about you—do you always let someone know your plans every time you head outdoors?