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If you go on a hike, bring this survival pack.

Don't be fooled by the glamour of National Park hikes on Instagram (and learn from my dumbass mistakes + survival pack).

I was covering a story with Taye Diggs outside of Las Vegas on Lake Mead in November 2018. With a free afternoon, I discovered that the Arizona Hot Springs weren't too far from where I was staying.

The weather gets so unbearably hot in the Summer there that the trails to the springs are closed. However, I was there in November. The scene is very desolate. Besides the one main highway, it is full-on desert filled with canyons. As my Uber driver dropped me off, he warned me that I may have no service when I would need a ride back to my hotel.

A good survival pack for a hike can save you from getting lost.

I loaded the trail on my Google Maps and set out on my afternoon adventure. Solo hiking is exhilarating. That morning I was standing in New Jersey in a down jacket and hours later I was alone, without a person in sight in a desert in Nevada. I know time travel isn't real, but this felt pretty close to it.

The terrain was dirt, rocks and sand, all looking vastly identical. I only brought water, my phone and had running shoes on instead of hiking boots. I tried to follow the signs and make sure I was making all the right turns. But along the way, of course, I made a wrong one.

About 40-minutes into my hike I realized I made that unfortunate turn when I found myself at a 30-foot drop off. I didn't freak out. I thought, “I'll just retrace my steps back to where I came from.”

I ended up at a dead end.

And another.

Then back at the 30-foot drop off. I had no idea which way I came from. Alone, without service, in canyons and hitting 4 dead ends over the last hour, “what the actual f*ck” were the only words I could mutter.

A hike with a survival pack is a good idea.

I had about two hours to sunset and was lost for well over an hour. I wanted to stop and take pictures of the beautiful scenery, but I was scared sh*tless at the same time. First world problems. On hands and knees, I climbed to the highest point where I could see the single road in the distance that I arrived on.

Continuing to search for service on my phone, I noticed that the little dot on my Google Maps was still following my movements.

This is what saved me.

Google f*cking Maps.

I didn't know this prior, but if your app is preloaded and you lose service, it will still show you where you are on the map. Within a half hour, I found my way back to where I started and saw that wretched turn I made.

Mother Nature's hazing was over and the adrenaline rush came back to me. “Don't be an idiot,” I said to myself. But alas, my naivety won and I jogged down to the Arizona Hot Springs as I was in a race against the light. I couldn't afford to get lost again.

It was gorgeous and I'm glad I got to see them even if it was only for a few minutes. I'd like to caution, if you find yourself on a solo hike, make friends. I befriended two sisters at the springs, we hiked back up together and they even drove me back to my hotel. Now we follow each other on Instagram!

Before you start your hike remember your survival pack and Google maps.

Since then I haven't hiked alone but am big on the buddy system. For any type of hike, this survival pack should always be on you:

  • Backpack

  • Weather-appropriate clothes (layers!)

  • Hiking boots

  • Snacks/plenty of water

  • Phone

Things people *often* forget:

  • Map or compass

  • First-Aid Kit

  • Knife or multi-tool

  • Sunscreen!

And don't forget to look both ways before crossing the street.

Be good,


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