I’ve seen all these things happen and if you do not know how to read the landscape and the signs around you, then you can quickly become very lost.
The most reliable guide you have is the land itself. unlike some other signs it will not quickly change.
Look at the landscape as you walk
through it. Work out where on the horizon you are heading and look back to see where you have come from. As you look around, remember objects or features that you will be able to see if you have to retrace your steps. Look at the relationship between your route and these features and make notes if you need them.
Being in the habit of doing these things will mean that if you lose your navigation equipment or the mist closes in, you will have a good mental picture of the landscape that
will be an enormous help in getting you home in one piece.
These are things you should do even if you are using navigational aids, as you should be able to fit this information to what you can see on your map and compass. If you can’t make it fit, stop, take a break and consider if you are actually where you think you are.
If you are navigating with just a GPS then retrace your steps to a city and do not enter the wilderness again until you have bought a good map and
compass. Mountain rescue teams have enough to do without having to recover corpses with failed GPS units.