Last week while exploring the mountains I got lost. Like, I actually got lost…no trail…no familiar sights…just….lost. In the midst of my life flashing before my eyes, I realized how under-prepared I was. It was on this hike I discovered the importance of the ten essentials.
Washington hasn’t been playing nice for my last couple hikes, and the fog/cloud covers have been intense. Normally this wouldn’t be an issue, but when a trail is new to you limited visibility isn’t ideal.
For the first bit of this hike (on Granite Mountain) things were smooth. Visibility was limited, but the trail was easy enough to follow. It was when the snow hit things started to get sketchy.
Thanks to avalanche warnings (yeah, real talk) we took the rocks. Thank God I’ve been doing more yoga because I used my arms to climb like a sea turtle crawling back into the ocean. A LOT of arms.
After finally making it to the top I enjoyed what I could see, despite being a bit bummed by the lack of view. I even made a new friend.
On the way down is when shit got real.
Mistake number one: Venturing away from the snow line. There was a rock wall that hugged the snow path, but we veered too much to the right. Lack of visibility made this even worse.
After a short while we were no longer in the right area. The drops got steep, and the path was non existent. Somehow we ventured so far to the right we were on a completely different mountain. A mountain with no paths. I about lost my marbles.
Two hours of wandering, panicking, and contemplating whether I wanted my vegan ways to end due to eating my hiking partners leg.
Mistake number two: Not enough food/water. Of all things for ME, a FOOD LOVER to fail at…not having enough food. I ate everything I brought by the time I hit the top. Never again…
I literally had to grab onto deep rooted bushed to avoid falling down the vertical drop. My legs got cut up, and my mind began to wander.
Mistake number 3,4,5,6,7…: No navigation/sunscreen/fire starters/insulation/illuminations…nothing! Just me myself and my empty pack. The goat poop I saw indicated someone was probably freshly hungry after emptying their breakfast, and I was on the menu.
FINALLY, after somehow catching a connection via Google Earth on a cell phone, we figured out which way to go. GPS is SO necessary in a time like this. Ironically this is when the clouds started to break.
Not that it helped, with no visuals to base our ascent on, the decent was just as foreign even with visibility.
Here’s what I learned: NEVER hike under prepared. No matter HOW easy you think the climb will be. 7.5 hours and over 9 miles later we made it to the car, and I nearly cried. I was legit scared.
I will be making another trip to REI (my fourth in less than two weeks) to grab some basic essentials to add to my pack. Looking back I can now laugh, & I also appreciate these photos – I think they are great.
Q: Have you ever been lost in the mountains before? Suddenly I am reconsidering my desire to thru-hike the PCT. Just kidding, this will happen..but I will be much more prepared, and maybe have a small army with me just to be safe.
62 thoughts on “Granite Mountain – The Ten Essentials”
GiGi Eats Celebrities
WHY does it look like it’s NOVEMBER over there!!!! UHHHHHHH how do you not suffer from SAD year round?!?!?!?!?!! COME VISIT ME BIIIIAAATCHHH!
PS: I love this post because now I really know how lost you got – your text didn’t do it justice! LOL!
No, no…..this is just in the mountains when you’re up almost shaking hands with God. It’s not snowy anywhere else haha. The weather is great.
Once my friend and I got lost in Ithaca’s Gorges while walking two dogs she was dog sitting. We lost the dogs and our way…two hours later we finally came to a road about three miles from where we started. Oh..and we were wearing flip flops…
kathy@vodka and soda
the pics are gorgeous but dammit, that’s my #1 fear – getting lost and having to drink my own piss and eat my own arm just to survive. no one in the movies ever survives that shit!
My thoughts exactly. NO ONE! I think we might survive if we were together though…with a combination of the two of us.
you are a true survivorrrrr…. i would have def cried and whinedddd the entire time. on the bright side, your pictures are absolutely incredible. I love this jacket!
I once got lost hiking in my friend’s backyard. Well, it was more like wandering b/c it is 60 acres…. and we got so mixed up and were convinced we were going to have to camp outdoors and eat frogs for dinner. Eventually, we found a clearing that ended up being a golf course her property was next to and made it home…. and ate like the entire fridge contents.
Oh man, I ate so much Chipotle after this.
Amanda @ .running with spoons.
I got lost in the mountains in the winter when me and a group of friends thought it would be a good idea to do some backcountry and snowboard down the -other- side of the mountain. It was all fun and games until we reached the bottom and had no idea where we were. Also… stop making me crave a trip to the mountains like a crazy person 😛
GIRL — scary stuff, and i’m glad you are safe and this story had a happy ending. you totally are my real-life version of Cheryl Strayed in Wild and you muuuuust read it. 🙂 i love reading about your hikes and you’re making my inner granola hippie wicked jealousssss. ps that “sea turtle” comment was fab.
Your comment has made my day. 🙂
I would have flipped out. I’m lost trails before, but never enough to feel actually lost, but even that is still scary! Glad to know you made it home though!
karla @ finding my fit
ahhh this is so scary! granted it wasn’t the mountains but I’ve gotten lost doing land navigation in forests in the middle of the night. your mind starts to play games with you when you can’t see your hands in front of your face its so dark.
so glad that you’re okay and that you stocked your pack up! ❤
IN THE FOREST AT NIGHT!? Uhhh you win…you definitely win. EFF THAT!
Amy @ A Desert Girl
The photos are excellent. I am practically hyperventilating at the mere thought of being lost in the mountains. And I know I wouldn’t be prepared either. I’m SOOOOO glad you made it out okay. Be safe, friend!
Kate @ Another Clean Slate
That would be absolutely terrifying to me but the pictures are pretty amazing! So maybe worth it? Kidding!
I can’t imagine how scared you must have been. I’ve been lost in the woods before and it is an unsettling feeling. I’m glad you made it out safely and at least you learned your lesson without too harsh of consequences! 🙂 Great pics!
I got lost in the mountains because of snow covering the trail. I’m from MS where we know nothing about hiking or anything but I was in CO at the time… all alone in shorts with no food. I seriously thought I was going to die that day.
Scariest thoughts ever!
Food, Booze, & Baggage
Scary!! I would have 100% cried and lost it. I’m always afraid of getting lost in the woods. Glad you guys made it back safely!
What an awesome hike! Aside from all the “holy crap” and underprepared moments, that really looks like fun.
I kind of did the same thing on my mountain bike on Sunday – or at least went out completely unprepared, and got myself way lost for a good while which resulted in some hyperventilating. Must have been the weekend to make great decisions 🙂
Glad you survived, and I can’t believe all that snow!
Rach @ This Italian Family
That is absolutely terrifying! I mean, the photos are incredible as always, but your story is so scary! I’m glad you guys made it out okay!
PHEW!! So glad you made it up and down in one piece. How terrifying. At least you were not ALONE! BTW, who is this partner? (LOL) Based on your experience it sounds like going forward you will be ultra prepared! 🙂
My good ol’ hiking partner is a guy I used to work with!! I recently discovered he liked to hike just as much as I did, and now we hike allllll the time! Definitely just a friend. 😉
I think I legit would have cried! Getting lost is one of my huge fears with hiking, since you always hear those stories about people being missing for days or weeks in the mountains. Also, I think the snow is totally crazy! I had no idea Washington still had snow into late June — I went to the mountains in Colorado last June and usually I was there later in the summer so seeing snow totally threw me off!
Girl, you are SO brave! No food, no water, no trail… And snow. I hate snow. I’m really proud of you for finding your way out and being able to laugh at it afterwards. But please make a trip to REI asap so I don’t have to worry about you on your next adventure! 😉
Nope nope nope! That snowy mountain looks like a nice tall glass of NOPE. I’m super impressed that you held yourself together. I was freaking out just reading about it. Of course, it still looks beautiful as your hikes always do. Terrifying, but gorgeous.
Davida @The Healthy Maven
we got VERY lost hiking Waimea Canyon in Hawaii and it resulted in 4 hours of wandering in a storm. I cried and ate my peanut butter sammie as slow as possible. Eventually we also caught a signal but if we hadn’t I would have died in Hawaii…which I suppose is not the worst place to go!
Barbara Bamber | justasmidgen
Dear Britt.. never, ever do that again, what would we do without you??!! Was your friend as scared as you were?? That would have made it worst, lol, at least someone should pretend they know where they are:D
Geez Louise! You held it together though. I laughed out loud about the goat being freshly hungry. 🙂
AH! This makes me scared just reading about your experience! Glad you made it out safely 🙂 You are one hardcore hiker!
I just recently hiked in mt rainier national near chinook pass and we climbed up some steep slopes to get a view of rainier and thinking it was just one away up one way down we hadn’t paid good enough attention and upon descending we were aced with a descent that was outside our abilities and that’s when we realized we had taken another route up. Thank god for snow bc I tracked our tracks back up and found where we got off. We walked around a mound of snow at the base of a spruce and somehow never got back on trail. I did have a map and compass as well as provisions and a clean sight of rainier, but it just goes to show how easy it. Don’t take orienteering/preparations lightly, some areas are not forgiving. Great post Britt! Thanks
MY GOODNESS, what a story.The snow sure saved you guys that day. Thanks for sharing!! Rainier is on my list…I must conquer that beast.
Luv What You Do
I am so super jealous! Love seeing all your amazing photos on instagram!
OMG! I had chills just reading this. I’m so so sorry you got lost…I would have lost my marbles, literally. I hate being lost especially somewhere that I am not familiar. I’m so happy you’re safe. Plus your shoes are uber cute!
Holy crap, that’s SO SCARY that you got lost! I’ve never been “really lost” before, but I can’t imagine how scary that would be. I’m glad you’re okay and I’m glad you had GPS! Your snow pics are phenomenal too!
di @ life of di.
I’m glad that you’re okay and not still hanging on the side of a mountain somewhere 🙂 You definitely held it together much better than I would’ve. These pictures are great by the way!
So yeah, getting lost in the mountains might be a tad bit scary and by tad bit, I mean ridiculously scary. I’m so glad you made it back to tell the tale and also give us suggestions on how to be prepared. By the way, I’m totally relying on you and your knowledge for when we go hiking in the big Cleveland so you might want to figure out any additional preparedness necessary. M’kay. Thanks.
Okay I know getting lost in the mountains REALLY scary, but is it bad that it’s also super intriguing to me? Now that you’re safe and well fed, this is such a brilliant story to tell. It’s TONS easier to hear the tale when you’re not still lost out there! There’s something a little magical being on top of the world (or at least feeling like it). Your pictures make it seem like you were steps away from touching heaven! I’m so glad you found your way back. I’ll be referencing your knowledge as I hike Colorado later this summer xx
HAHA I can see the magic in it….now that I am not lost! 😉
Soooo SCARY! I have been lost on a mountain before. My family was hiking in the White Mountains, and my brother and I were in the lead. We were just chatting away, and the next thing we knew, we were on a completely different trail and had no idea where to go. We thought we’d try to make a trail in the right direction, and we ended up on top of the mountain around 7pm! Needless to say, this mountain was over 4,000 feet, so we were soon hiking down in the dark. I was SO scared, exhausted, and starving. But we finally made it to the car (thank goodness my dad is very familiar with the White Mountain wilderness and could probably always find his way out). But still, like you said, it really is important to be prepared… and to respect the wilderness environment. I’m so glad you made it okay… and that now you have a super cool story to tell!
Yikes… that’s a bit scary Britt!! Stay safe out there girl. But hey, at least you learned something, right? I’d say you are going to be 100% now for anything and everything on the trail.
Miachel | spiced curiosity
Whoa! Thanks for the helpful tips. I’m moving to the West Coast this week and am looking forward to hiking…more safely, now. 🙂
Miachel | spiced curiosity
Glad you got down alright!
Matt @ Runner Savvy
I’d freak if I was lost out there!
aww brit, that sounds scary! i’m glad you’re okay. also: i feel you on the food scare. i get low blood sugar, so i’m pretty sure my FANGER would kick in quickly (invented word for FEAR of being lost and HUNGER without reinforcements). glad you’re back my friend!!
That does sound scary! Glad you made it out okay and that you were with someone! Despite all that, it does sound like it was a great learning experience.
Laura @ the gluten-free treadmill
I love these tips – and they are so applicable for my ultramarathons too – I got lost at END-Sure, really just because I wasn’t paying attention! And as a side notes, someday I’d love to do a hike with you!
Brittany, GIRL! I was panicking FOR YOU reading this! Please always go prepared next time! Ahhhhh!
Dude!! That is some danger!
Don’t ever go hiking alone, ok? Thanks.
An Unrefined Vegan
Scary, girl!! But apparently a good thing cuz it’s made you realize where you need to make some improvements. Be safe out there!!
The Vegan 8
Omg that is what I would always fear….getting lost and starving!! So glad you found your way and are safe!!
Holy crap, that’s scary. And sounds like my sort of experience, except I would manage to experience this whilst trying to cross Central Park or something. YIKES girl!
Oh my goodness, scary!! So glad you made it down safe. I could literally never go hiking alone for this reason…I have the worst sense of direction, and without landmarks and stuff, I’d get lost for sure.
Melissa @ Al Forno Mementos
Glad y’all made it out okay!!! I would of just peed my pants. haha but those pictures…. gah so gorgeous.
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Change of Pace
Thank goodness you weren’t alone!
Kelly always hikes with such a heavy, full backpack because he says he wants to be prepared for anything. I guess it’s not such a silly idea after all 🙂
Be careful when there’s snow. Avalanches are no joke.
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OH MY GOD. IM SO GLAD YOU MADE IT BACK!!! i can imagine how terrifying it must’ve been, if i was in the situation and managed to make it back to civilization, i would get PTSD!!
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