I started volunteering with Multnomah County Sheriff's Office Search and Rescue in 2004. In nearly 10 years with the unit, I searched for and rescued well-meaning people who were injured, stayed out past sunset or lost track of the trail. The most difficult rescues came when no one at home was sure about where the adventurers were going or when they were supposed to get back.
The most important preparation for any outdoor adventure, epic bike ride or hours-long training session is to tell someone where you're going.
To train for search and rescue, I used to to hike a 2.14-mile stretch of Oregon's Columbia River Gorge to a point called Angel's Rest. It's just over two miles but the trail boasts an impressive 1,400 feet of vertical gain. Whenever I'd take on the trail, I'd text a friend with my location and expected return time. If anything happened (e.g. they didn't hear from me by the prescribed time), they'd contact the authorities with the information.
After moving to New York, I started biking and running to nearby Pelham Bay Park. Because I live in such a densely populated area, I didn't feel the need to take the same precautions. I rarely gave anyone the specifics of my adventure. One day, after being followed and verbally harassed by three different men in the span of an hour, I felt differently.
I started sketching that same day. After reviewing the existing get-home-safe apps, I felt that this service was missing. While there are plenty of apps that make it easy to report an incident or call the police while walking home, there are no apps optimized for adventures off-the-grid.
Solo is meant to work whether you have cell service on the trail or not.
Solo automatically informs your emergency contact if
you don't complete your adventure.