Camping alone in the woods can be frightening no matter your level of outdoor expertise. One Vancouver man found this out the hard way after he went missing while on a solo camping trip.
Henry “Hank” Kitchell, 61, went missing after he left out for a camping trip on Tuesday, October 18. His family was expecting him to return on October 21 but he never came home. Vancouver police reported Kitchell had been located on October 25. However, his short disappearance strikes up a bigger conversation about the importance of camping safety.
Although Kitchell was found safe, many reports of campers going missing haven’t had such happy endings. There are a plethora of precautions travelers can take when camping along to ensure they make it come safe at the end of their adventure. While traveling and exploring the world alone can be thrilling, safety should always be the main priority.
Lost & Found
Kitchell’s family reported him missing a few days after he didn’t make it back home. He was expected to be camping at Fairy Lake near Port Renew. Police were unable to confirm if he ever made it to the lakefront.
The traveler’s family told authorities that it was unlike Kitchell to not be in the location he stated he’d be camping at. Worry set in as days passed by with no word or updates. Finally, a week after he left for his trip, Kitchell was found safe.
No information was released on where the camper was located.
The Dangers Of Camping
While the joys of camping alone can be exciting, there are many horror stories of campers going missing or worse. The Kalalau Trail in Hawaii has claimed many victims over the years. A sign memorializing its camping victims stands at the trail entrance.
Hiker Jesse Glen Pinegar went missing on the trail in 2008. Another hiker located his abandoned campsite. Although Pinegar’s iPod, wallet, and other belongings were at the campsite, he was never found.
On September 30, 2022, camper Jeffrey Gordon Stambaugh went missing from his campsite in Arizona. He was last seen near Prescott National Forest and has yet to be found.
With all the fun associated with solo camping expeditions, travelers can easily get lost in the sauce and forget basic safety techniques. However, things can be done to keep you out of harm’s way the next time you go out on a solo camping trip.
How To Stay Safe When Camping Solo
There are many things you can do to stay safe while camping alone. Solo camping trips give you an opportunity to commune one on one with nature, bask in solitude, and be alone with your thoughts. But it’s important that your experience be rooted in safety.
One of the most important things to do before going camping solo is to notify someone where you’ll be setting up your tent. Many people share their location with family and friends before heading out. However, depending on where you’re camping, a lack of cell signal can cause your location to go in and out. Provide a trusted person with your exact camping location before heading out in case of an emergency.
Another tip when camping alone is to prepare before you leave home. If you have new camping equipment, test everything out before your trip. The last thing you want is to be in the middle of the woods and realize you’re unable to pitch your tent. If you plan to start a fire while camping, practice beforehand.
Make sure you arrive at your campsite early. This will ensure you have enough daylight to get your tent set up, prepare any food, and even find firewood if necessary.
Being alone in the woods can create panic and fright. So it’s important that you stay calm in an emergency or if fear sets in. Panicking will get you nowhere so keep a clear head once the dark sets in and you’re surrounded by nothing but the outdoors.