Part of the allure of the great beyond is getting away from everything and everyone (work included–we’re looking at you, Gert!). And even though modern technology (smart devices, SAT phones, message-carrying drones!) makes it hard to really escape, it’s still important to at least make the effort.
In pursuit of that goal, here are some sure-fired tips to help you not be found when heading into the wild. One caveat: we still suggest always telling someone where you’re going. But perhaps not your boss.
Put Your Stuff on Airplane Mode
Any modern-era spy movie will tell you to destroy your phone, lest your enemies track you. But people aren’t really trying to find you that much (and if they are…then change your name to Bourne, switch to “burner” cell phones, and buy yourself a smart phone-smashing hammer).
That aside, putting your device on airplane mode is the perfect way to avoid the annoying call, text, or chime indicating you have an email/Facebook post/Twitter/Instagram or whatever. It’ll also save your device’s battery life. Better still, most travel-friendly apps (including Google Trips) have offline modes that still provide solid beta and work with GPS-enabled features.
Weather is Your Friend
Dumping rain? Head for the hills, provided you’re outfitted with all the necessary OutDry weather-proof protection. You’ll more than likely have the trails to yourself, and be able to witness an entirely different landscape than you might find on sunny day. This goes double for inclement winter weather, where your favorite trail can transform into a snowy wonderland or a landscape covered in ice that makes everything look like the world has been covered by Krispy Kreme glaze. For the latter, opt for shoes with tread that can handle ice.
Tread Lightly—and Smartly
As The Shining aptly demonstrated, your footprints can easily be found—and tracked—when walking in mud, sand, dirt, or snow. When facing wilderness with these features, opt instead to walk on rocks, pads of leaves, or slightly off-trail to reduce the number of prints you might leave behind. Except when it’s truly raining; in that instance, a downpour will help wash away most tell-tale signs that you’ve been there. But if it’s raining—or even wet—walking on wet wood should be done with extreme caution; rainy conditions make those conditions insanely slick.
Be Aware of Your Environment
One reckless off-trail wander through a forest or glen will leave legions of signs for experienced trackers to follow. Broken branches, dew brushed off high grass, scattered rocks, impressions in the earth caused by your toes when you start an uphill slog. Be smart and careful, or opt for unconventional routes like river banks—or floating right in the water for a few moments to help throw pursuers off your trail. Swimming to and island is also a suitable (if short-term) solution.
Wildlife Is Your Friend
Animals typically vacate when humans are preset, save for docile, quasi-domesticated species like livestock. The former? Mostly a crap-shoot, unless you are fortunate enough to encounter a herd of deer one evening and can wander into their midst. But if you encounter the latter, take advantage of their ambivalence towards humans by crossing through whatever field might house said animals. They’ll help eviscerate whatever tracks you may leave in your wake.
And When All Else Fails…
That drone still honing in on your locale? Resort to your primal cave-dweller instincts and try to take it down with a rock or stick.
Fashion a rudimentary sling-shot out of a Y-shaped branch, some rubber bands, and a torn piece of backpack. No elastic on hand? Go David and Goliath and make a sling with a stretch of rope (like your shoe laces) and a patch of fabric. Chances are, you’ll probably bean yourself in the head as you try to perfect firing a rock from that sling, but at least the person flying the drone will be able to watch and laugh at your misguided efforts.