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This is a true story. Its one o'them scroll down thingys.
My long time camping buddy and I were ski camping (he snowshoed) in March in the Sierras at around 7,500 feet, still in the trees, but high enough that we were camped on top of a rocky point and about an hours march in and near the old Immigrant trail. We always had our own tents cause it gave us the room to spread out and frankly he always had terrible indigestion - phew...
Anyway we tended to set the tents around 100 feet apart, far enough that we couldn't hear the other guy snore. Now I generally carry earplugs in my first aid kit so I can sleep in storms, but it happens this was a quiet night.
My buddy had to get out of his tent in the night to "see a man about a dog" and being rather shy he walked a ways from camp and dug a hole in the snow. He started back to camp and walked a ways, then realised that he didn't know where camp was, and that he had already walked too far.
He was wearing only long underwear and sorel boots and had only a roll of toilet paper and no flashlight since there was sort of bright starlight and he hadn't planned on going far. There was a foot of snow on everything and he knew he was lost. He was also a very bright guy and thought he had more common sense than I and he always carried a 50 pound pack (or more) in the winter to prove that he was better prepared (secretly he thought I was insane but he had never driven a car and needed me to take him camping even though I scared him pretty badly at times.). He had dragged the pack in on a sled on this occasion. He thought his common sense and 2 dozen winter trips made him experienced enough to get along on his own.
So standing in an area with large trees in cotton long underwear and sorel boots, 25 dgrees and windless, starlight, some stumps covered with snow, no flashlight and lost. By the way starlight plays tricks on you, there is no depth perception at all. WHAT WOULD YOU DO?
THOUGHT ABOUT IT?
He did absolutely the smartest thing he could. He stopped and calmly took stock of his situation and his gear and surroundings BEFORE TAKING ANOTHER STEP. His own reading had taught him to sit down and wait for the sun to rise so he could find his way back (and I would never know he had got lost thus saving his pride since I was the crazy one), but wait, the stumps were covered with snow and he was in long underwear. So pushing aside his pride, he started screaming "JIM" JIM, JIM, JIM.
I guess I awoke on the second scream and I hear "a lost person" out in the wilderness calling for their dog. I'm thinking that must be a pretty valuable dog for someone to out at 2 am in the cold looking for him. Oh well we have a lost camper to rescue so I better get up and put my boots on. I was up in a second and reached for my boots and I yelled "Hey dude get up we got a lost skier to rescue". About then I hear "JIM" again and I'm thinking funny name for a dog, but anyway I'm up with my coat on with my flashlight and I hollered at him again and I hear "Jim I see your flashlight, I'm down here, keep your light pointing down so I can follow it back". He was at the bottom of the rock outcropping and soon he was back in camp, kiinda sheepish but very happy to be reunited with me and his tent.
I bought him a small flashing beacon light like they put on life jackets for night rescue for Christmas. He was quite offended and wondered what he was supposed to do with it. I told him to attach it to the front of his tent and turn it on before wandering around in the snow at night, but he was not amused.
People have left a snow cave to "visit a bush" and not been able to find it again and died out there. You can't hear anything from inside a snow cave and a snow cave is very hard to find, especially in a storm. A line fastened inside the cave and tied to your belt can save your bacon in cases like this cause you can follow it back. Its like scuba diving in uderwater caves - if the cord come free, you die.