I’d like to nominate for sainthood the bloke who thought it would be a good idea to throw some tincans up in the air and have them tell us where we are. The Global Positioning System is one of the top hundred inventions of the last 100 years. I think I’d put it right up there with the Internet.
Of course, if it wasn’t for the Internet and the GPS, I would not be lost deep in the woods …
The image displayed here shows me walking in (I believed) a straight line, between about 12:15pm and 1:55pm today. The point at which I decided I was lost is left as an exercise for your imagination. This is the backtrack from my GPSr, intermittently losing contact with the satelites, so you can assume that my actual path was even more circuitous. (Note: I changed the image a few times, because I wasn’t sure I had the right part of the track. I’m certain I have the right bits now.)
If you read the book “The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon”, and didn’t understand why it was scary, here’s a few friendly tips for you.
When you’re lost in the woods, everything looks like a trail. Right up to that “Dear God I’m going to die in here and they’ll find my bones next spring” moment. Then nothing looks like a trail, even if it has a yellow center line. So don’t leave the trail, because you won’t find it again.
If you believe, as I once did, that carrying a GPSr ensures that you cannot ever get lost, make sure you take your cell phone with you. You’ll find that you get the best signal if you climb to higher ground.
When you’re deep in the woods, the GPS starts lying to you. For a time, it will tell you that the destination is 300 feet ahead of you. Then it will say that it’s 2 miles behind you. Then it will stubbornly refuse to tell you anything at all. Then, suddenly, you’ll crest a hill, and it will tell you that you just fought your way 500 feet through thorns in the wrong direction.
When you’re lost in the woods, all spiders are poisonous, and even pinecones can transform themselves into rattle snakes. Don’t ask me about the mechanics of this. I think it’s covered in “Tom Gordon.”
0.15 miles is approximately 750 feet. This may take you about 3 minutes to walk on flat uninterrupted ground. When you are lost, this may take more than an hour, because you are incapable of maintaining a straight line for any distance, and although you are certain that you are correcting back to the straight path after going around an obstacle, you’re wrong.
And, if you missed the other tips, here’s the important one. Never leave the trail. Never leave the trail. Never leave the trail.
Ok, that was a *REALLY* scary hour. Or was it just 20 minutes? I’m really not sure.
Then, suddenly, you emerge back onto the 4-foot-wide pave trail, with startled pleasure-walker tourists and their kids in strollers, looking with mild curiousity at your wild eyes and soaked-to-the-waist jeans, and it all seems vaguely silly and not worth talking about. “Oh, don’t mind me. I just spent the last 2 hours – or was it 15 minutes – in terror and certain that I’d be eating leaves and grass by sundown.”
Oh, and just so there’s no confusion, I *did* find the cache, and logged it. So there. Nyeah.