Map, Compass & GPS

Map, Compass & GPS
Wild flowers along Fall Creek on the way to the Green Lakes - Oregon

Friday, September 2, 2011

Staying Found Is Better Than Being Lost

Staying found in the backcountry.

By Peter Kummerfeldt

All outdoor users should carry and know how to use a map and compass before they go off into the backcountry. The first step in staying found is locating your position, and marking that position on your map, before you leave your vehicle or camp. Then identify the boundaries that surround the area in which you will be traveling. These boundaries could be prominent roads, railways, power lines or large rivers. Preferably you should identify boundaries on all four sides of the area you will be in. Having located yourself on the map and knowing the boundaries, you can then leave camp with the knowledge that, if you get lost, all you have to do is determine which boundary is closest and walk a straight line to it. Then relocate yourself and return to your vehicle or camp. Sometimes this can be a very long walk out!

Many people experience great difficulty walking a straight line and have wandered in circles until exhausted. The simplest way to walk a straight line is to use a compass, preferably an “orienteering compass.” Having determined the direction to the nearest boundary, point the “direction of travel arrow” towards your destination then turn the dial of the compass until “N” coincides with the north end of the compass needle. Follow the direction indicated by the direction-of-travel arrow always keeping the north end of the compass needle and the orienteering arrow aligned. Look up, sight on a landmark, and walk to it. Repeat these steps until you reach the boundary and can relocate yourself. In some areas only one significant boundary may be present. In this situation, determine, before you leave camp, the direction you will have to travel to get to the boundary in the event you become disoriented.

To read the rest of Peter's article go here.

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