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Blazing the Trail

Category: I Trailing

A woodsman usually blazes his trail by chipping with his axe the trees
he passes, leaving white scars on their trunks, and to follow such a
trail you stand at your first tree until you see the blaze on the next,
then go to that and look for the one farther on; going in this way from
tree to tree you keep the trail though it may, underfoot, be overgrown
and indistinguishable.

If you must make a trail of your own, blaze it as you go by bending down
and breaking branches of trees, underbrush, and bushes. Let the broken
branches be on the side of bush or tree in the direction you are going,
but bent down away from that side, or toward the bush, so that the
lighter underside of the leaves will show and make a plain trail. Make
these signs conspicuous and close together, for in returning, a dozen
feet without the broken branch will sometimes confuse you, especially as
everything has a different look when seen from the opposite side. By
this same token it is a wise precaution to look back frequently as you
go and impress the homeward-bound landmarks on your memory. If in your
wanderings you have branched off and made ineffectual or blind trails
which lead nowhere, and, in returning to camp, you are led astray by one
of them, do not leave the false trail and strike out to make a new one,
but turn back and follow the false trail to its beginning, for it must
lead to the true trail again. _Don't lose sight of your broken

If you carry a hatchet or small axe you can make a permanent trail by
blazing the trees as the woodsmen do. Kephart advises blazing in this
way: make one blaze on the side of the tree away from the camp and two
blazes on the side toward the camp. Then when you return you look for
the _one_ blaze. In leaving camp again to follow the same trail, you
look for the _two_ blazes. If you should lose the trail and reach it
again you will know to a certainty which direction to take, for two
blazes mean _camp on this side_; one blaze, _away from camp on this

Next: To Know an Animal Trail

Previous: When You Strike the Trail

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