‘Gather your wits’: Surviving a night (or more) lost in the Northwest wilderness

DUVALL, Wash. -- Jennifer and Elizabeth Moran admit they were poorly prepared when they ventured out for what should have been a short hike last month near North Bend.

The Bothell mothers of five children ended up trekking more than 13 miles after getting lost in the wilderness, hunkering down near a riverbed for the night and awaiting rescue.

“For us this was the most traumatizing thing we’ve ever been through,” Jennifer Moran said.

While traumatic, the couple’s ordeal is not uncommon in the Northwest – particularly as the days get shorter and the weather colder.

“There’s more actual hazards out there than there are in the summer,” said Dan Corcoran, a survival skills expert and instructor at the Wilderness Awareness School in Duvall.

“We’re looking at hypothermia and other things that can actually kill us.”

Corcoran, 37, dedicated his life to learning and teaching survival skills after he got lost on a day hike while in college.

“I was by myself and didn’t tell anybody where I was going,” he said. “I got turned around on a trail and basically got myself into a scary situation.

“I wanted to figure out what to do in that sort of situation. How I could survive if I needed to?”

In this video report, Corcoran offers basic survival tips should you find yourself lost in the Northwest wilderness, including how to start a fire and find shelter.

To learn more about the Wilderness Awareness School, visit wildernessawareness.org.