Finding your SPOT

Finding your SPOT

I wasn’t as lost as I thought I was. I had, unfortunately, made several mistakes or had several incidents of bad judgment before I got to the place where I was at least somewhat lost.

It was a 90+ degree day in Utah. I intended to hike a particular dry wash in the San Rafael Reef, just north of Goblin Valley State Park. But, I didn’t really have a map, just a chapter in a book. When I got to the general area, once I turned off of Temple Road, the dirt/sand roads weren’t marked. I found a place with a few ATV riders, so I stopped and asked if this was the particular wash I was looking for. They didn’t know, but it seemed like a good place to hike.

So, I set out heading down the wash, with enough food and water for an hour or so out and another hour or so back. The ATV’ers were heading home as I was leaving. Of course, I had told nobody where I was going. Might not have mattered any way since I wasn’t sure I was at the place I intended to hike.

I hiked down the wash for a little over an hour as I intended. Saw only two people along the way, and their car was gone by the time I was heading back. It was scenic and secluded, but no shade and very hot. Along the way, I noticed one intersecting wash and marked the one I was hiking. All good, so far. Got to a little slot canyon around the time I was planning to head back, so I took some photos and headed back. I found the place I had marked and concluded I was quite the hiker.

Then I came to the intersecting wash I hadn’t noticed on the way out. Oops. I picked one direction and headed out. About 20 minutes later, I was at what I think would be called a box canyon in an old Western movie. The wash ended, and my car was not in sight. Clearly, that was not where I needed to be. And, the water and food were about gone. At that point, a bit of panic set in. Took a few minutes to calm down and realize I just needed to go back to the point where I decided to go left and then go right. I did that, and once I got to that spot it was only another 5 minutes or so to the car.

SPOT device and an orange
The SPOT is about the size of an orange and about a half inch thick

Several mistakes. Some degree of panic. Learned a lot. Don’t make THOSE mistakes again.

When I finally told someone about my stupidity, he suggested I get a SPOT. I thought he meant I should always hike in one spot — how boring. Nope, a SPOT is an emergency notification device. It uses satellites, so lack of cell service is not a problem. The version I have (which was all that was available at that time) just sends messages. It can notify emergency medical services or car repair people. And, it can send “check in” e-mails and/or texts to people I identify though the SPOT website ( before I head off on an adventure. Now, there’s also a version that can receive messages, but I haven’t upgraded to it yet. The devices aren’t hugely expensive, and there is an annual subscription fee, also not hugely expensive.

I am sincerely trying to be better prepared and make better judgments when I go hiking. But, it is nice to know I’ve got the SPOT along. And, as it turns out, Julie and Marge are relieved to get the check-in notifications. I’ve only forgotten once — so far.

2 thoughts on “Finding your SPOT”

    • I found an app for my phone that may do that. Seems to use GPS rather than cell service. But, I haven’t been out of cell range to try it yet.

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