A Cautionary Tale

As you read Jo’s story, consider the choices she must make. Move your mouse over her possible choices to see what they imply. By the end of the tale you will have a clear idea of why the AdventureSmart way helps you stay safe outdoors!

An Afternoon Hike

Jo is a keen physical fitness buff, and likes to keep busy and active. She has recently taken to hiking a popular trail in the hills close to town, which she does to get outside and appreciate nature and to exercise. On this particular day, Jo had a stressful day at work, and is looking forward to getting outside. When she gets home, there’s a message on her phone from a friend, inviting her to a movie later this evening. “Things are looking up,” she thinks to herself, as she gets changed and ready for her outing. She puts on a pair of running tights and a wicking t-shirt. Then,
  1. She ties a light, wind-resistant running jacket around her waist, anticipating needing it for the way back.
  2. She throws a few extra layers in her daypack – a fleece sweater, a windproof/ rainproof jacket, and a toque.
“Hmm … better stay hydrated,” she says, having learned recently from her running group that the key to well-functioning joints and injury prevention is drinking lots of water. Then,
  1. She fills a glass and drinks almost all of it.
  2. She has a glass of water, then fills up a one litre water bottle and puts it in her bag.
She grabs the phone to call her friend. “Sure I’d be up for the movie, sounds great.” Then,
  1. “I’ll probably just meet you at the theatre. I have a few things to do this afternoon.”
  2. “I’ll meet you there. I’m going on the McPeek Trail right now. You know where that is, right? Well, if I don’t show up for any reason, you’ll know where to find me!”
When Jo gets to the parking lot, she tucks her cell phone into her pocket and sets the timer on her watch. Moving at a good pace, she soon becomes lost in the sights and smells of nature. The stresses of the workday fade, and she enjoys the feeling of her muscles, heart and lungs doing the work. On the way back Jo hurries, thinking about picking up some groceries, and planning a quick dinner before meeting her friend. There are fewer hikers on the trail now and she enjoys the stillness of having the trail to herself. Suddenly, her foot catches a rock, and she tumbles and lurches forward. In the slow motion feeling of an action movie, Jo hears herself yell out, feels her body somersaulting, missing the ground, finding air instead and finally landing with a thump. Jo is shaken, and doesn’t move for a moment. She looks back up at the trail. Slowly, she tries to get up, realizing that she is more scared than hurt. When she tries to stand, she notices her right ankle is not quite right. She tries to take a step on it and winces. “Oh great, now what?” she yells at the forest. It seems so quiet now, and suddenly she wishes she wasn’t here all alone. Then,
  1. She puts on her running jacket, suddenly wishing she had brought something a little warmer.
  2. She puts on her fleece jacket, and then, trying to keep as much body heat in as she can, adds her toque as well.
Jo pulls out her cell phone, thinking of calling for help and wondering if 911 would work so far out. “I wonder if a helicopter could come and pick me up,” she wonders uneasily. There is no service on her phone. “Maybe if I could just get to a clearing,” she thinks, her mind racing now. She remembers a viewpoint at which she had stopped on her way up the trail. Maybe it would be clear enough for her cell phone to work. “I NEED to get to that clearing,” she thought. But how? Her ankle was sore even to the touch. She certainly couldn’t walk on it. There seemed to be a bit more light coming from over to her right. Maybe that was the clearing she remembered. It didn’t look far. She began to crawl and hop in the direction of the clearing. She headed straight for it, rather than taking the path, since it would get to the same place. After what seemed like forever, she got to the clearing. She pulled out her phone and tried again. No service! Her heart sank. How would she call for help? To make matters worse, the trail did not meet this clearing. She had been wrong about it meeting her trajectory through the forest. She turned to crawl back toward where she had come. It would be better to be on the trail than in this spot in the middle of the woods. But which way? Suddenly, she realized with horror that she had been so intent on getting to the clearing and so sure that she would see the trail when she got there that she wasn’t paying attention to her direction. She was lost and alone. Then, a thought occurred to her:
  1. No one knew where she was.
  2. She remembered telling her friend where she was going before the movie. She looked at her watch. They were supposed to meet in two hours. Her friend would call for help!
It was a lonely feeling, being in the woods with dark approaching. She realized that the best thing to do would be to hunker down and wait for help. It was no use trying to walk on her ankle, and the crawling and hopping she had done to get herself here had tired her out. Then,
  1. She huddled by a tree, trying to pull her running jacket over her head. A chill went up her spine as she thought of spending the night up here in the cold. She was hungry, and her mouth was parched.
  2. She pulled her jacket out of her pack and put it on. In the pocket was an energy bar. She let out a whoop of joy. “Dinner!” she cried excitedly. Her water bottle was still half-full. “Hydration is key!” she thought triumphantly, as she imitated her running instructor’s voice.
  1. “Dinner,” Jo thought dejectedly, “I really wish I had some dinner.” She curled tighter into a ball. It had begun to rain very softly. “Oh no! Why does it have to RAIN?” Jo was shivering now, and it was all she could do to hold back the tears. It was going to be a long, cold night.
  2. “Rain!” thought Jo. “Hmm, I think I have a plastic bag in here.” She opened the lid of her pack and found the neatly folded orange blanket that she had packed long ago. With a sigh of relief, she pulled it over herself. This would keep her dry and warm, as warm as she could be in the woods after dark. She pulled her whistle out of her pack as well. “When they come looking for me, I’ll be ready,” she thought, and leaned back against the tree.
Who would you rather be? Jo “A” or Jo “B” ?

Trip Tips

Always have a means of communication

Consider carrying a device compatible with your activity and location to call or alert others in an emergency.  Remember, if you are in danger, your chance of a successful outcome increases if your call is made as soon as possible.

Be Prepared

Ensure everyone with you understands what to do in case of an emergency. 

Don't depend solely on technology

Equipment failure and lack of reception are very possible in the outdoors. Consider carrying a map and compass as a backup.

Familiarize with your equipment

Know the capabilities and the limitations of the equipment you are planning to use as your lifeline to survival.

Let someone know where you are going

Always send your trip plan to a responsible party, family member or friend. They can notify authorities if you don’t return.

Stick to the plan

Throughout your activity, stick to the trip plan you left with a friend or family member. In the event that you do not return as stated in your plan, it can be given to police and search and rescue organizers to help them find you.

Travel with a companion

A companion can give you a hand to overcome difficulties or emergencies.

In an emergency

Don't Panic

Stay calm and maintain a positive attitude.


Stop, Think, Observe and Plan.

Stay Put

It reduces time and search area for the authorities looking for you.

Seek Shelter

Protect yourself from the elements by staying warm and dry.

Signal for Help

Think BIG, Think CONTRAST, Think 3’s. Use whistle blasts x 3, mirror flashes x 3, horn blasts x 3, signal fires x 3 or rock piles x 3 to signal distress. Create a ground-to-air symbol by making the letter “V” or “SOS”, at least 3 meters in length.