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Finding Your Way by Natural Signs and the Compass

Category: Ii Woodcraft

An important phase of woodcraft is the ability to find your way in the
wilderness by means of natural signs as well as the compass. If,
however, you do not know at what point of the compass from you the camp
lies, the signs can be of no avail. Having this knowledge, the signs
will be invaluable.

_Get your bearings before leaving camp._ Do not depend upon any member
of the party, but know for yourself.

If you have a map giving the topography of land surrounding the
camping-grounds, consult it. Burn into your memory the direction _from_
camp of outlying landmarks, those near and those as far off as you can
see in all directions. The morning you leave camp, ascertain the
direction of the wind and notice particularly the sun and shadows. If
it is early morning, face the sun and you will be looking toward the
east. Stretch out both arms at your sides and point with your
index-fingers; your right finger will point to the south, your left to
the north, and your back will be toward the west. What landmarks do you
see east of the camp? South? North? West? And from what point of the
compass does the wind blow? If it comes from the west and you trail
eastward, the wind will strike your back going away from camp and should
strike your face returning, provided its direction does not change.
Again, if you go east, your camp will lie west of you, and your homeward
path must be westward. Consult your compass and know exactly which
direction you take when leaving camp, and blaze your trail as you go,
looking backward frequently to see how landmarks should appear as you
face them returning.

With all these friends to guide you, first, the map; second, sun; third,
shadows; fourth, wind; fifth, compass; sixth, your bent-twig blazing,
there will be little, if any, danger of being lost. But you must
constantly keep on the alert and refer frequently to these guides,
especially when deflecting from the course first taken after leaving
camp. At every turning, stop and take your bearings anew; you cannot be
too careful.

These signs are for daylight; at night the North Star will be your

Next: Sunlight and Shadow

Previous: Etiquette of the Wild

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