If you get lost on a hike, this is what you should do.
As soon as you realize that you are lost, stop and stay where you are until you know what to do. Continuing will likely get you further off track.
Do not panic, because that will make it harder to focus on the situation. Think of what made you realize you are lost. When was the last time you were sure you were on the right path? Is there a way to backtrack your steps to get on the path again? Do you have a way of contacting someone?
Do you see landmarks to navigate by? Compare your surroundings to your map, if you have one. What resources do you have? How long will you be able to sustain yourself? What are the weather conditions? Where can you camp if you have to spend the night? Can you make your position visible to someone looking for you?
Consider what you know now. Make a plan. If you can get back on track, do that. If you can’t come up with a better plan, staying where you are may be the best plan. Staying put saves energy. Eventually people will start looking for you. Set up a camp with regards to the conditions and your equipment.
If you continue walking, leave a trail of stones, sticks or something else, so you can get back to where you are if needed. Do not use food to mark your trail. It will be eaten by animals and you may need the energy yourself.
Before you get out on a hike
Pack more food than you think you will need. Let someone know your hiking plans, including camp sites and when you expect to return. Pack a nylon tarp or hammock. It is lightweight, takes up almost no space and can be used as shelter, a hammock, for marking your location, for starting a fire and many other things.
This text was inspired by The Clymb blog.