Map, Compass & GPS

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

Monday, March 5, 2012

Book Review - The Natural Navigator

I first learned of Tristan Gooley while reading an article in Outside magazine about two years ago.  I was intrigued with the discussion and concept of the natural navigator.   Navigation is a passion of mine, I bought a copy of The Natural Navigator – Pocket Edition.

First, let me tell you what this book is not.  It is not a “how to book” of compass or GPS navigation loaded with maps, charts and technical diagrams with easy to remember mnemonics or rhymes (e.g., East is least, West is best.)  I don’t know if the co-founder of the Silva compass firm and master orienteer Bjorn Kjellstrom would be at peace with this book; but that’s OK.

What The Natural Navigator is, is a book about personal observations that provide natural clues to orientation and direction in the backcountry.  The book provides a fine discussion where one’s attention is directed to take another look at what has been taken for granted in the past; that which is overlooked.  This booked opens the hiker’s awareness to the impact of terrain, weather, and the heavens.   

I am especially appreciative of his discussions about not overlooking the obvious.  He does provide technical advice regarding direction finding with natural aids such as the use of a shadow stick and the sun to find north.  His explanation of the night sky, the stars and the earth’s movement through the seasons is down to earth and easy to understand.  Gooley goes well beyond the basic discussion of how to find the North Star.

This is a great read for the backcountry traveler.

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