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Old 09-16-2017, 08:35 AM   #9
Trail Boss
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Here's a sobering fact I learned while reading about the search for Geraldine Largay (AT hiker lost in Maine). A representative from the Maine Warden Service reported they find 90% of all lost/missing hikers within 48 hours of notification. NYSDEC is equally successful.

So what does this mean to me, you, and other hikers? It means you stand a good chance of being found within two days of someone (promptly) reporting you are overdue. That's encouraging news for the 90% of lost hikers. It's even shorter if you activate a PLB or SEND device (your location is reported).

What if you are NOT found within 48 hours? That means you are in the minority. There is something about your situation that makes you exceptionally difficult to locate. You are the proverbial 'needle in a haystack'. If you have the ability to make yourself more visible (become the nail or fence-post in a haystack) then by all means do it. Your timely rescue, and life, depends upon it.

The record shows people who are not found after many days of searching, are rarely ever found alive or found at all. If you are in this situation, namely alive and "not found" for days, it behooves you to make yourself more visible or, if you have the ability and means, to seriously consider the option of self-rescue. Getting to the nearest clearing, trail, or road will improve the odds of being found.

The additional complication in this incident is that Stevens was reported missing 6 days after his scheduled return. It is essential you leave your itinerary with a responsible individual (especially if you don't carry a PLB or SEND ... and please don't rely on cell phone coverage in the backcountry). If you don't call them by the deadline, their responsibility is to immediately contact DEC headquarters and report you overdue. This gives searchers a far better chance of locating you within 48 hours.

tl;dr
Most lost hikers are found within 48 hours. Odds of being found (alive or at all) start to drop after 48 hours. If you're in this situation make yourself easier to find (if you're able to): fire, signal mirror, brightly colored or reflective materials, move to a clearing or trail, etc.
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