Map, Compass & GPS

Map, Compass & GPS
Wild flowers along Fall Creek on the way to the Green Lakes - Oregon

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Plan Your Escape and Evacuation Routes



Planning Your Escape Route

Alternative and escape routes - Once you have planned your route, plan and check out alternative routes that you may need to take in case of bad weather or if the going gets too much for some party members. In mountainous areas, it is essential to have two or three detailed escape routes should any situation or emergency arise.”







Over the last several years my Search and Rescue (SAR) team has participated in several forest fires operations in Oregon.  The team has helped to coordinate the evacuation of small community neighborhoods and has worked with Forest Service staff to assist stranded hikers.  Getting these hikers out safely has been a priority.  Many hiking groups were met by local Ranger District staff well away from the fire to plan their exit.  Others self extracted.
Thankfully, there have been no personnel casualties.



As bad as this fires have been, there have been several lessons learned.  One has been to plan an escape route.  Develop the plan at home before hitting the trail.

The threat to the hiker ranges from fire, weather (snow, rain and wind) to a geologic event (earth quake).





When evaluating an escape route I recommend the hiker consider several elements. 
First, take a look at your topographic map and tail guides to determine potential escape routes.  Evaluate the terrain.  Are there barriers due to slope and vegetation?  This is especially true should the hiker need to “bush whack” cross country.  A conversation with a ranger can be invaluable.


Second, is the route achievable and realistic for you and your group?  Is your group fit, healthy and ready for such a hike?  


Third, are there sources of water along your route?  In some cases blue stream lines on a topographic map should be colored brown in the summer as stream beds dry up.


Forth, carry the right gear?  Does the day hiker have the ten essential in the pack?

Communicate your change of plans to friends and family.  Let that responsible person (designated to call 911 if you are late) know your plans too.


Don’t forget to fill out the trail permits when traveling in the backcountry.  These are invaluable to narrow down who was still in the backcountry.  In several cases, contact numbers were called to verify the safe return of a hiker.  Take this seriously.  One fellow used the Portland Airport designator (e.g., PDX) as the home address.  This was not helpful.


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