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Ever been lost and how didyou get on (off?)

Ever been lost and how didyou get on (off?)

Postby JonetCol » Sat Mar 28, 2020 5:09 pm

I realise some of this overlaps with 'daftest thing....' but having a first experience recently I'd be interested to know of others experiences..

I was in the relatively benign Cheviots Thursday gone (prior to HMG ban on even solo hillwalking) doing a walk I'd done a couple of times previously. About an hour in, at the top of my second hill, the forecast 'light cloud' turned into pea soup. Literally no visibility beyond a couple of feet (mine included) in any direction. Thinking I knew the route (pathless by the way) I naively carried on. After about a half mile I ended up in a patch of scree which I was completely unfamiliar with. Clearly not where I thought I was (euphemism for lost) I had to take stock. With no GPS, I was dependent on compass.

I was convinced I was travelling South, but the red needle indicated it was North. I simply didn't believe it. Too tired to compose a complaint to the Silvas company - and too arrogant to believe my sense of direction could be wrong - I paused to ponder anxiously what to do next. Several worried thoughts about having to dial 999 etc raced through my head. They included trying to console myself that of the people rescuing me, at least the person at the feet end of my stretcher would be the requisite 2 metres away (I'm 6' 2"). Mostly I was terrified of the embarrassment to me, not to mention the strain on the rescue teams.

I decided to try to retrace my steps, but in the pathless terrain even that was not straightforward, with no landmark to pick out. Nevertheless off I ventured.

I eventually came to a pedestrian gate immediately after a ford in a narrow stream. It seemed familiar, but aware of 'mirage' thinking I was wary of reaching hasty conclusions. The pink string looped around the gate , though familiar, won't have been exclusive to that gate, but there was a distinct familiarity (seriously) about the chain and the bent nail it was hooked on to, that led me to think I'd arrived, purely by accident at base of my third hill. It turns out I had.

I completed the walk with no more trouble. In all I was only delayed by 20-30 minutes, but it was an anxious little spell. I now realise that I got into into my predicament after walking about half a mile in a semi-circle , thinking I'd gone in a fairly in a straight line, only to face Nort instead of South - and the compass was of course accurate.

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Re: Ever been lost and how didyou get on (off?)

Postby mynthdd2 » Sat Mar 28, 2020 5:35 pm

the Cheviots in clag can indeed be bewildering as many of these 'rounded'. hills have few distinctive features or handrails...over the years I have depended on my ancient Garmin to give me a position and my compass and map to safely sort it

...so I don't get lost really - just 'misplaced' :shock: :oops:
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Re: Ever been lost and how didyou get on (off?)

Postby scoob999 » Sat Mar 28, 2020 5:46 pm

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Re: Ever been lost and how didyou get on (off?)

Postby mynthdd2 » Sat Mar 28, 2020 5:55 pm

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Re: Ever been lost and how didyou get on (off?)

Postby walkingpoles » Sat Mar 28, 2020 6:04 pm

There were some important lessons there:) And welcome to the club.

It's usually a very sensible idea to get the compass before venturing into the white wild. And in case you forgot that, trust it, when you look at it. It only takes 100m or less to make an involuntary 180-degree turn on a flat terrain. It's also easy to pick the wrong ridge to walk down a mountain. I usually check before being 5min beyond the possible mistake point. I only did one hike in the highlands without compass. I got on top of Ben Vorlich. So I knew exactly where I was, but I had no idea on which side to go down.. Fortunately there is a trig point up there which is not exactly at the summit. With that additional info I was able to orientate the map. The worst I was lost probably was in the streets of Buenos Aires, where I found myself outside the city plan (and no mobile) and in a slightly rough neighbourhood (Villa 21-24, in hindsight). Fortunately the sun was shining so I could turn towards the more touristy areas.
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Re: Ever been lost and how didyou get on (off?)

Postby LobeyD » Sat Mar 28, 2020 7:20 pm

I have one 7-Munro day to my name that I am happy to talk about (Ben Lawers etc.) but I also have an unofficial 7er that doesn’t get talked about quite so much.

Couple of years ago I headed north for a week’s walking. On the first Sunday I was at Glenshee. Although I’d chosen to head east for the better forecast, it was relative and pretty claggy and drizzly. Not wanting to do anything iconic I went for the 4 to the east (Carn an Tuirc, Cairn of Claise, Tom Buidhe, Tolmount, in the that order).

I managed the first two no problem but as I reach the summit of C of C the clag really set in. Now, not trying to find an excuse, but I only had paper maps with me and this walks annoyingly crosses two maps with the break between the western (first two) and eastern pairs. I only have a single map case so it was a bit of faff.

I took a due east bearing for Tom Buidhe and headed off into basically a broken featureless moor. With an increasing sense of unease I finally hit a likely looking slope. At the top there was a suitable looking cairn and assumed it was TB. I headed back west from the summit to the moor and turned north. Rather than the slopes of Tolmount that I expected this became an increasingly messy area of lumps and bumps. This also meant that my direction was inconsistent and after a while figured I didn’t have a clue exactly where I was. I wasn’t generally worried as heading west would get me back to the road eventually. I was more concerned about ever needing to head back to what is not the most interesting of areas.

After mooching about in a generally west and uphill direction, the increasing familiar summit of C of C loomed out the clag again. It was one of those occasions I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Sat for a few minutes to decide if it was one of those days that bailing was the best option but decided to give Tolmount a go. Heading a bit more north from the summit (or so I thought), I hit the bowl to the north west of Tolmount and worked round to the summit. Which also looked very familiar, seeing as how I had been there an hour previously. The slow dawning realisation that I had, somehow, managed to climb the wrong hill completely before settled in.

Managed to find Tom Buidhe and my walk out took me back over C of C, all without further incident. So in the order that I had planned, I actually managed 1 2 4 2 4 3 2. A 7-bagger that will remain, I hope, the daftest outing of my first round. I am also now a lot more careful taking bearings and with map edge walks.
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Re: Ever been lost and how didyou get on (off?)

Postby Border Reiver » Sun Mar 29, 2020 4:11 pm

I've never been lost, in that I didn't know where I was. It's just that on a couple of occasions, I knew where I was, but wasn't sure which direction to proceed in. On the first occasion, I followed another walker who was going the same way. On the second, I eventually trusted my map and compass (after not believing it could be correct) and it was spot on.
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Re: Ever been lost and how didyou get on (off?)

Postby jacob » Sun Mar 29, 2020 4:23 pm

Funny thing about reading this thread is that before I thought I would be the only one that sometimes really believes he is right and the compass is wrong :lol:
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Re: Ever been lost and how didyou get on (off?)

Postby AHillTooFar » Sun Mar 29, 2020 6:17 pm

Too many times...I have a habit of getting lost in thought and just plodding on.

A cloud rolled over Ben Macdui and I proceeded down the North slope not the East following some other walkers. After I was out of the cloud/rain I noticed the scenery did not look like the map and checked my compass/map and realised what I had done. Some other walkers noticed this and found it amusing I had to walk back up the North slope.

Not quite lost but when going up A-chaileach in the Monadhliath mountains I noticed that I was not getting closer to the summit and that for some reason the sun was in my face and not on my shoulder...
Of course I had taken a wrong path and was on my way up a hill just south west of it. Still got some good photos from there.

My best was when visiting a waterfall on the west coast of Scotland. The day was low cloud so I went for a relatively low level walk. I met a nice couple who were doing the same with only a printout from some website. Surely my map and compass will be better. Wrong.

On the way back I started following a path with small rock piles marking the way. The nice couple had mentioned to me that they were heading down a different path as that is the way they had come. It did not occur to me till about half an hour later as I stood, staring at an unfamiliar piece of landscape with my compass telling me I was walking east instead of west that I realised both they and I were going to the same car park. The path I was on, was not on the OS map I had.

To top matters off the low cloud enveloped the area I was in leaving me to frequently check my compass in case I got in any more trouble. I was in such a rush to get back to my car I eventually caught up and over took them.
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Re: Ever been lost and how didyou get on (off?)

Postby CharlesT » Mon Mar 30, 2020 10:10 am

Not strictly on the principal theme of this thread, but from an earlier post of mine which may resonate.

"My technique for getting lost, or as I prefer to call it "disorientated", is resolutely to leave my map and compass in my rucksack (after all, they're only there in case of emergency :D ), argue with my GPS, just as I do with that in the car, and march forward determinedly in the direction I know is right. This allows me then to exercise my ingenuity in extracting myself from all sorts of unplanned predicaments and makes every outing an adventure. :lol:

Wouldn't change it for the world. :D"
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Re: Ever been lost and how didyou get on (off?)

Postby iangpark » Mon Mar 30, 2020 10:17 pm

2016 I got lost on Arran attempting the Sannox horseshoe in clag. No map/compass but had studied the map a bit a few days before. Got to Goatfell fine, and had assumed that The Saddle to Cir Mhor joined at Goatfell, not North Goatfell. Eventually figured this out so summitted North Goatfell and joined the ridge - no problems as I was now out the clag. However on the way up Cir Mhor I re-entered the clag. Got to a section which appeared as a 10m or so rock face. I believe I had a go at clambering to the side it and found some kind of top but an impenetrable cleft stopped me going any further. I soon realised I now had no idea which direction I was facing. I ended up descending a massive plate-like rock which had an enormous drop at the end of it. Realising how dodgy this was getting, I must have curved back round and ended up looking up at the same path which I had first gone up about 10 minutes ago. I was close to tears at this point - I just could not see how that was possible on such a steep mountain. I tried taking a bypass path on the left and (I think, somehow) went in a circle AGAIN! I was quite panicked by this point but at least knew that I could only be facing west, so took the bypass path again and made sure I didn't change direction at all. Eventually the terrain levelled out and I knew I was on the other side of the mountain, but not knowing if I was descending to Caisteal Abhail or A'Chir. My intention had been to visit Beinn Tarsuinn and Fionn Bhealach as well, which was never going to happen now, and it would be dark before I reached the YH I was meant to be staying at. I got cramp in my leg on the way down and had no option but to sit for a few minutes to let it recover, making noises of genuine panic. I knew I could end up in any one of 3 glens so just picked one at complete random. To my sanity, I could recognise it as Glen Rosa as the clag cleared and my phone signal returned. The buses were all off so I Googled the last ferry times. Only an hour and a bit away. I phoned my girlfriend at the time and told her I'd be at hers that night. By the time the ferry was leaving in 10 minutes, I still had a mile left. I'd been jogging the whole way through the glen but had to properly run to make it. Fortunately made it with 5 mins to spare as it left late. Went back in 2018 and blasted through the remaining lot without issue. Was the main trip which confirmed my identity as a predominantly fair weather bagger - simply no fun to be had in the clag, prepared or not.
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Re: Ever been lost and how didyou get on (off?)

Postby Alteknacker » Mon Mar 30, 2020 10:42 pm

All great stories here. What strikes me above all is how many very experienced folk are afflicted with the "compass must be wrong" syndrome. I have wholly lost count of the number of times I have fallen victim to this surreptitious tempter. My only consolation is that I have been able to develop a drill that helps me combat it. No, not holy water or raw garlic, but non-stop repetition of the holy incantation, "follow the compass, follow the compass, follow the compass....". I've found it works :roll:
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Re: Ever been lost and how didyou get on (off?)

Postby Caberfeidh » Tue Mar 31, 2020 8:46 am

Border Reiver wrote:I've never been lost, in that I didn't know where I was.

Me too. I frequently find myself in the position of knowing where I am, but not being entirely sure about where everything else is.

Caberfeidhs Cabin map.jpg
Charlie Chaplin in The Gold Rush. Excellent viewing for learning map-reading skills.
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Re: Ever been lost and how didyou get on (off?)

Postby Mal Grey » Tue Mar 31, 2020 9:49 am

Another who has sometimes found it hard to believe the compass! Fortunately I've only started to go off the wrong side of a mountain once, and a nagging feeling that something wasn't right meant we only lost a few hundred feet before realising.

Last time I was "misplaced" was on a lake in Sweden, canoeing amongst a myriad of islands. We'd gone a good km too far before I realised, and had to resort to back bearings to visible hill tops to work out where we were. Its hard to keep track of distance on the water.
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Re: Ever been lost and how didyou get on (off?)

Postby al78 » Wed Apr 01, 2020 9:43 am

I've never been lost, the closest I got was when I climbed Ben Hope on what I thought was going to be a clear day with excellent views. There were excellent views on every other hill in the far north, but Ben Hope stubbornly held on to its cloud cap all day. I took the easiest route up, eventually ascended into the cloud, reached the summit, and had lunch. When it was time to head back, I took a compass bearing, but the direction it was directing me to go didn't match with my intuition, so I wondered if I had made a mistake. I decided to walk in the direction which I intuitively thought was the way down, and soon found that yes it was a way down, but only if I wanted to get down very quickly and wasn't fussed with the state of my body at the bottom, so I binned intuition and followed the compass bearing (which was spot on).

Moral of the story, intuition can be wrong, Don't rely on it if you have an evidence based alternative.
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