If you ask anyone who volunteers or works for Search and Rescue, they will tell you the majority of people who get lost or have something go wrong, DIDN’T HAVE A PLAN. In fact, the first step in the Leave No Trace Course is: Prepare and Plan. One of the 10 essentials of gear is; Compass and Map.
But what if you have a plan, and a map, what next? Make sure you have a buddy system in place. The Buddy system is letting someone else know your EXACT ROUTE and where you have left your car. More importantly, what time you will getting back to your car and when you will be calling them to say “I’m safe”.
Absolutely, you should fill out a Trip Plan, and give it to someone you trust. It makes no difference whether you are female or male, it’s always a good idea to let someone know exactly where you are going, and when you will be returning.
According to GSMNP Search and Rescue Rangers: “the most frustrating thing is trying to figure out where people are when they call for help”. “Usually people are not where they said they were going to be”.
Having a plan and sharing that plan is the most important thing you can do when backpacking or hiking in the backcountry.