I was hiking in a wadi in Petra and there came a moment that I realized I was completely and utterly alone.
OK, it was my fault. I’d violated one of those fundamental rules of hiking—the buddy system (and this applies even more so to women). But I’d entered the wadi not too far behind a couple of Spanish backpackers and I’d figured as long as I could hear them, they could probably hear me shouting “ayudame, ayudame, por favor!” if need be.
But I could no longer hear them—the only sounds were the crunch of my footsteps on the pebble-lined river bed and my short panicked breaths.
It occurred to me that maybe I couldn’t hear them because I’d somehow gotten lost. How could I have gotten lost? It’s a dried riverbed in a gorge—there are no turn offs. Or was there a turn off? Did I miss some crucial fork in the road?
I stopped walking and held my breath for a moment, hoping to hear a snippet of their conversation. Nada.
I made a mental inventory of my meager supplies. It had been an impromptu hike and so all I had was a hat, a 1.5 liter bottle of water (half empty), some toilet paper, a notebook, a pen, and a pair of sunglasses.
What will I eat? What will I drink? Will I freeze when the sun goes down?
Maybe I can use the paper in the notebook to write SOS notes—Help! Lost in the wadi!—and fold them into paper airplanes… maybe the wind will pick up one of them and fly it into the path of some tourist.
I hope it’s an English-reading tourist.
Just as I was going to tuck myself behind some low-lying scrub—I figured it best to stay out of the sun as I didn’t have very much water—I heard footsteps coming from behind me.
I turned to face my attacker… and found an American couple from the Midwest instead. “Hey,” they greeted me. “Want to tag along with us?” And just like that, I was saved from certain death.
Later that night, safe and sound in my hotel room in Wadi Musa, the village nearest to Petra, I got to thinking about what I would have really done if I’d been lost in the wilderness by myself. I tend to travel both light and spontaneously…
So maybe carrying these nifty, compact travel gadgets with me might be a good way to avert disaster (and a panic attack):
The SteriPen, a hand held water purifer that is, you guessed it… pen sized. If I could just find a water sourse, I’d be set. No, wait, I’d need something to put the water in. I couldn’t just stick the SteriPEN into the river and sterilize the whole river. And what if I was without a water bottle?
It would be good to have the Carabiner Mug. I could attach it to the outside of my backpack—it wouldn’t even have to take up any precious room that could go to other survival equipment.
OK. Water? Check. But what about food? If I could find a water source, I could probably do some fishing. But how? And with what? And what—I’m supposed to go hiking shlepping a huge fishing rod along with me?
Luckily, there is the Pen Fishing Rod—not only is it compact, it’s cheap.
But once I catch the fish, how will I eat it? Should I fillet it and make some impromptu sushi? Hmmm, it might be smarter to cook it—I mean, how awful would that be to be lost and sick with food-poisoning from improperly made sushi?
So, I’d better bring the Grilliput with me. The Grilliput is a portable grill that, when broken down, can fit inside a small 0.875″ x 11.25″ tube. Brilliant.
And when the sun goes down, I can snuggle up with myself, cup of clean water in hand, inside the Lippi Selk Bag—a wearable sleeping bag. It’s not very compact, so I wouldn’t want to carry it in my backpack, but I could just wear it all the time—as a travel uniform of sorts. OK, so I’d look like a geek or a B-list rapper (especially in the yellow one, like in the picture above) but fashion doesn’t matter—this is survival we’re talking about!
But if I was really smart—which I never claimed to be—I would buy the Voltaic solar-powered backpack. I could throw a GPS in that bad boy, charge it up, and never find myself in the almost-harrowing situation I was in for a few minutes in the wadi in Petra.