“No, I can’t say I was ever lost, but I was bewildered once for three days.”
“I wouldn’t give a tinker’s damn for a man who isn’t sometimes afraid. Fear’s the spice that makes it interesting to go ahead.”
—Daniel Boone (1734-1820)( , )
I’m going to opine here and perhaps ruffle a few feathers if not anger some people, but I’m not one to remain silent out of concern about such trivial and fickle matters as human emotions. I’m sick of hearing about so-called “lost” hikers calling in Search and Rescue (SAR) to save them from having to face the inconvenience and discomfort of the consequences of their own poor decisions.
In the neighborhood where I grew up, and within the school from which I come, a man was measured by his willingness to accept without complaint the consequences of his actions. That whatever situation a fella got himself into he was first and foremost responsible for getting himself out of before calling on others to risk their health and lives to help him. He looked not to others to relieve him of unwanted, though entirely bearable circumstances. And I do not mean a fleeting or cursory attempt, but a damn good, all in, everything tried sustained effort.
I do not intend to say that a person should never call on SAR or rely on their selfless and noble service, but that I believe such services should be reserved for rescuing people who have sustained serious injuries or are facing imminent great bodily harm or death. I routinely read about so-called “lost” hikers who when the sun goes down have rescue personnel deployed, at great expense, to save them from a few hours of uncomfortable cold and darkness, circumstances brought on by their own thoughtless actions or misguided behavior, situations entirely survivable without injury let alone death. SAR does not exist, in my opinion, to save people from fear or a few shivers and goosebumps or a sleepless night.
I have noted on this blog before, and I am sincere in saying it, that “I’d rather spend a cold miserable night lost in the woods and have another try at finding my way out next morning, rather than call for help. I’d die sooner from embarrassment than exposure.”
When discussing this matter with my wife recently, after reading a post one night from a lady requesting help on the Santa Barbara Swap Facebook page to locate her boyfriend who had misplaced himself in the Santa Ynez Mountains above Santa Barbara, my wife said she wouldn’t hesitate much in calling SAR if I failed to show up after dark. (We do, however, have an understanding that I should be granted a solid chunk of time well after the sun goes down before she even considers calling in the troops.)
I replied in jest as if acting like a rescuer, “We located the lost hiker, but it was the strangest thing. Upon seeing us he fled further into the bush and we were unable to catch up to him. After several hours of fruitless attempts at relocating him we called off the effort.”
I would dread seeing SAR arriving to “rescue” me if I was not incapacitated or not facing serious harm. We later read that rescuers were purportedly dispatched to find the lady’s confused boyfriend and his friend and found them in the vicinity of Seven Falls. Numerous news reports over the years recount similar events. Were they rescued from serious harm or from mere fear and discomfort?