Andy Kerr

Conservationist, Writer, Analyst, Operative, Agitator, Strategist, Tactitian, Schmoozer, Raconteur


Suggested Citation: Kerr, Andy. 2000. Oregon Desert Guide: 70 Hikes. Seattle: The Mountaineers Books. pp. 26-27.

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Because of the lack of trails (or trail signs), it is especially important to pay attention to where you are going in the desert.

The good news is that there are few trees in the way to confuse you. You can usually see a long way. If you can't, you can usually climb a knob or ridge until you can see a good distance. A far-off prominent and unmistakable landmark can serve as a beacon.

Always carry a map and compass, which should be called mapandcompass. One is of very little use without the other. And both of are little use if you don't know how to use them. See Recommended Reading for some books on navigation and map reading.

Before you begin the hike, study the maps, not only those in this book, but also the Oregon Official State Map (which doesn't depict BLM lands, but could if enough people complained to the governor), and the appropriate BLM recreation maps and USGS 7.5' quad maps. Get a good sense of where you are going.

Very occasionally, the author gets disoriented (real men don't get lost). It is nice to punch up one's exact coordinates using a Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver, but don't get addicted. One could spend too much time looking at the screen instead of paying attention to where one was.

If you do get lost, it is best to sit and wait for help. This assumes that you have followed the advice of safety experts and are not traveling alone and that you have told responsible people where you are going and when you expect to return. If you don't check in after the appointed time, they may alert authorities to begin a search.

For the record (and not as advice), the author admits that he often travels alone and that his spousal unit only has a general idea of where he is. He's comfortable and experienced traveling in the backcountry, and it is a risk he chooses to take. He also packs his GPS receiver and a cell phone to provide his exact

longitude and latitude to Search and Rescue. (Cellular coverage is incomplete in the Oregon Desert, but if one can climb to a high enough point, one can usually get service.) It is possible that he will eat these words posthumously in his obituary. He has on occasion eaten them financially.