It was getting dark. They were lost atop Mount Lafayette in the White Mountains. And Analia Oliva and her boyfriend, Cory Robertson, out for a day hike with their dog, were not prepared for a night in the woods.
The only tool they had with them was Oliva’s iPhone. Except that they had no reception, and Robertson, 25, and Oliva, 20, had used up much of the battery taking photos. The New Hampshire couple eventually found the right trail, scrambled down the mountain, hoping to get a signal, but it was too late. They could not see where they were walking, and there were no bars on the phone. When it died, they settled into the reality of a night on the mountain.
That is when a minor miracle happened: They were rescued, accidentally, by crews out looking for another lost hiker.
Increasingly, smartphones are creating problems in the backcountry, particularly in New Hampshire’s White Mountains, where, officials say, more hikers are skipping basic gear — particularly a map, compass, and flashlight – and relying too heavily on phones with GPS and a slew of gear-like apps, including compasses and trail maps, to bail them out of a jam.
The department publishes a list of 10 essentials every hiker should bring, on the website hikesafe.com, and a phone is not one of them. The mountains are notoriously bad for cellphone reception.
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