Map, Compass & GPS

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

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

How Do People Get Lost

Recently, I was skimming through one of my favorite books, Staying Found, The Complete Map & Compass Handbook by June Fleming. This book is the framework for many of my navigation classes.

In Fleming’s book I found a section titled “Why Do People Get Lost?”

I am going to reset her section and discuss “How Do People Get Lost?”  I will be using my short background in Search and Rescue to make several conclusions.

  • Many hikers do no planning before beginning their hike.  The do not carry the “Ten Essential” and have no navigation equipment.  Without pre-planning their trek the hiker has no terrain association developed for the hike; they have no mental map.  For more on the Ten Essentials go here.
  • Hikers have substandard equipment.  For example, the map is out of date, the compass is so old that it has lost its polarization or the compass is a cheap model.  Regarding the later, frequently the compass goes from the packaging strait into the pack.  (Read my post about selecting a magnetic compass.)
  • Hikers lack the basic skills to use their navigation equipment.
  • Declination has not been accounted for.
  • A group of hikers rely on one person to do the navigation and there is no double check.
  • Hikers tend to under estimate the distance and over estimate their ability.
  • When walking along a slope, known as side-hilling, the hiker doesn’t compensate for drift off the intended route.

The following are a list from Fleming’s section that I found interesting:

  • “Their knowledge of the route isn’t current enough; trailheads and access roads change, trail are rerouted or cease to be maintained.
  • They rely on the navigation know-how of a companion who is in the process of getting lost himself.
  • The travel without a map because the route seems obvious, a sin the casual day strollers are guilty of more often than overnight hikers.”

And my favorite from Fleming is:

“When adverse circumstances start to enter the picture – deteriorating weather and visibility, fatigue, flagging spirits, and dulled awareness - they charge ahead anyway.”



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