Hiking in remote areas is a great experience if approached with due regard for fitness, safety and skill. One of the major skill categories, is the ability to navigate with or without compass and map. Ideally, no one should head off the beaten track without map or compass, but what if you lose or damage your compass? Here are a few basic skills that could one day be of use…
If you have a watch that is set to local time, you can always quickly determine approximate direction as long as the position of the sun is visible. The method used varies depending upon which hemisphere (northern or southern) that you happen to be living in. The following methods are described using an analog watch, (that’s a watch with an hour and a minute hand) but they can be applied just as well if you own a digital watch. Just use your imagination to superimpose the 12 hourly numerals and the relevant position of the “hour hand” on the face of your digital watch. This method will give you a good approximation of true north or south but is not a substitute for the accuracy of a compass and the closer you are to the Equator, the less accurate.
Another method of determining direction points can be used if you do not have a watch. This method takes longer and also requires enough sunlight to cast a shadow…
The following (less accurate) method can also be used at any time of the day without drawing an arc…
Determine North, South, East and West using the method previously described.
What if it’s a cloudy day with no sun visible to get a bearing on, or the bush canopy prevents you getting a clear “shot” at the sun? If you are lucky, it may be windy with the clouds moving in a constant direction – note the directional flow of the clouds, and adjust your course relevant to their direction. e.g., If the clouds are moving from your front from right to left over your shoulders, keep them there, at the same time, sight an object straight ahead of you and head for it.
|George Spearing is the author of “Dances With Marmots” website: Dances With Marmots Outdoor experience includes thru hikes of the Pacific Crest Trail, (Mexico to Canada) the United Kingdom (south to north) and the North Island of New Zealand.|