3,207 forum posts
Presumably, we all know how important it is to leave certain info behind with a trusted friend or relative when we go hiking or backpacking. But, I'm curious about when/how/what info you REALLY leave behind or with others and when, if ever, do you leave nothing or not-so-much behind—sort of a best practices versus real world question.
When I first started thinking about this, after reading the missing Denali hikers thread, I thought my answer would be very black and white (always leave info with a trusted person etc…), but in reality it depends.
For example, when I go running, road or trail, I always tell my husband or leave a note saying where I'm headed and when I left.
When backpacking we usually tell relatives where we're headed, our intended route, and how long before they should contact authorities if we're not back. However, I admit to going backpacking while on vacation without being this thorough.
Day hikes have a LOT of gray area though. On a three-season, day-long hike, we might leave a note in the car (face-down on the floor where it might eventually be noticed by rescuers if we're presumed missing) saying where we're headed, for how long, our experience level, and an emergency contact. This is intended as additional S&R info, rather than an alert though. If there's any sort of sign in/out system we always do that. If relatives are watching our kids, we’d leave info with them.
If it is winter and we are doing something more challenging (like a New England 4,000-footer), we'd likely leave full info with relatives (though they’d be watching our kids and need that info anyway).
That said, there are a number of short, easy day hikes in our area for which I've never left a note behind in any season, though if I went alone I’d tell my spouse where I was headed.
I think if you have a spouse, partner, or roommate who doesn't hike with you, it's easier to always leave behind info. But, for those of us who usually hike with our partner, it gets trickier. And if you work for yourself, there aren’t any co-workers who will notice your absence on Monday morning.
So, what do you really do in practice?