There are more than 3,000 stories in Adventure Journal’s archives, most of which are evergreen, and occasionally we put the best of them back on the home page for new readers to see.—Ed.
It’s funny how all those trees can look alike. Or rocks. Or trail junctions. Twice in the last couple of months I was riding or hiking on trails I’ve never traveled, not really paying close attention because they were in my backyard, relatively speaking, when I took wrong turns.
It didn’t take long to discover my mistakes (“I don’t remember the hill being this steep…”), but no matter—what troubled me is that I relaxed, let my guard down, and trusted that the two GPS units I was carrying (iPhone and Garmin Fenix 3) would back me up. When I’m in bigger, wilder, less-familiar terrain, I always carry map and compass and pay much closer attention, but still—it was a reminder that it’s easy to be blasé about navigation these days, with potentially dangerous results.
We, of course, have become techno sapiens, increasingly reliant on our digital navigation systems and less so on our own brains, with legions of cautionary tales for doing so: the Israeli troops that let Waze wrongly send them into Palestinian territory, the Syrian truck driver who was trying to get to Gibraltar on the Iberian Peninsula and ended up in Gibraltar Point, England, the girls who drove into a lake. When we put our faith in technology, we negate the critically important internal system that allows us figure out our way through the world without batteries—our mind map.
So, yeah, we shouldn’t turn responsibility for our own safety and well being over to a fragile chunk of metal. But even if we don’t, even if we’re rigorous, mistakes will be made. Sometimes that’s just part of the adventure and sometimes that’s part of the rescue. How’s it gone for you?