How Not to Get Lost in the Woods

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How Not to Get Lost in the Woods

I read a story the other day about a guy who got lost in the woods and ended up living on a diet of squirrels until his owner found him. Wait, no. That was about a dog. The dog got lost in the woods, and the owner lived on a diet of squirrels till the dog turned up. You know, that doesn’t sound right either. But I guess what I am getting at is this: Getting lost in the woods stinks.

First, it can stink in a literal sense, if there are a bunch of skunks around or something. But it can also stink in a, “Boy, there isn’t much to do in these woods and I could die out here” way too.

If you’ve ever been lost in the woods, you know what I’m talking about. If you are lost in the woods right now, then you should probably stop reading this blog post and get yourself found—people are probably worried. Plus bears. Just do the right thing and get found, okay?

Often, when people are lost in the woods, they don’t have computers and the like with which to find themselves—in a literal or existential way. So here is a quick list on how not to get lost in the woods ever again.

1) Keep a compass.

A compass is a thing which lets you know where north is. Based on that, you should be able to navigate any of the four cardinal directions. This is helpful because a thing is always found in the last place one looks. Like my pen. The other day I couldn’t find my pen anywhere—and it was the black one I really like too. I looked under the bed and looked under the car seats (and over them too for that matter), and then finally found it in the little pen holder on my desk where it always is. Then I stopped looking—the pen being found and all. The same is true with you and your compass. You can start trudging off north, figuring you will eventually hit some sort of discernible thing—like your home—but the odds are against it because it is the first thing you try. So where a compass really comes in handy is by letting you try each of the four cardinal directions—order really doesn’t matter—till you land on the one (usually the third or fourth one) that leads back to your yard where this whole mess began. Who knows? Maybe you’ll even find the Frisbee you were looking for too!

2) Don’t Go in the Woods.

I’ve been lost in all sorts of places. In fact, I was in the womb for eleven or so months and everyone teases that I must have got lost in there. I’ve sort of been lost ever since. But in all my hapless wanderings, I’ve found the woods to be one of the absolute worst places to be lost in. There are no signs, no fridge, no television set. The woods are actually pretty terrible, all in all. I stay out of them as much as possible. These days, a stray Frisbee, the stray cat, stray dog, or the stray game of Lord of the Rings are the only things that can lure me into the treacherous forest. Well, those and hikes. But I have found, without a doubt, that one of the best ways of not getting lost in the woods is staying well away from the woods in the first place. In this way, it is a lot like the Atkins Diet, but replacing the bread for trees, and not eating either.

3) Don’t Go in the Woods.

The #2 example should probably read “Don’t Go into the Woods” because “Don’t Go in the Woods” sounds like I’m talking about using the bathroom. But, let’s face it, the woods are one of the best places to use the bathroom when one is out-of-doors or out-of-toilet-paper (leaves are nature’s Charmin, after all). So we may have well included this one as: “Don’t Go in the Woods.” Not because it is wrong or weird—like my neighbors seem to think—but because you can get turned around pretty easy.

4) Tell Someone Where You are Going.

If you are going to disregard #2 and #3 and you go in the woods (whether to go in the woods or not), it is a good idea to tell someone you are going into the woods (but not such a good idea to tell them if you are going to go in the woods—bathroom talk creeps people out). It is good to tell a loved one, but if you are like me, your loved ones never seem to be around and don’t ever have their phone ringers on, so I tend to just tell the first person I run into. Sometimes it is a passerby—“Hey, I’m going into the woods, okay?” I’ll yell as they just drive on by. Then we’re good to go and the chances of getting lost for long are pretty much shot.

5) Carry a Gun.

How Not to Get Lost in the Woods

Speaking of shot, I think it is a good idea to carry a gun. Sure, it is best not to get lost in the first place, but let’s be real here . . . it is probably gonna happen. So I like to tote a rifle along when I’m out for a walk, just in case I meander into some woods and get lost. I can use the gun to signal for help, shoot animals, and keep one bullet just in case. (You know, for the vampires.) Also, a lot of times the cops will stop you if you carry around a rifle, and if you are down at the jail, guess where you’re not? Yep, the woods.

So there you have it–five ways of not getting lost in the woods. Honestly, I have about a dozen more, but I’m feeling a bit stuffy here in the old office. The great outdoors are calling out to me, so I will answer their call with the shuffle of my own feet. I’ll try to avoid the woods, but this imaginary ring isn’t going to take itself to Mordor now is it? Plus, I sort of need to go . . .

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