The Essential Wilderness Navigator


How not to get lost

How not to get lost. Of all the many books teaching you navigation skills, this one is the best all around. It teaches you how to find your way using any of these: hints in the terrain, sun, stars, maps, a compass, or GPS (coordinates alone are not enough). Clearly illustrated, pragmatic, broad, and up-to-date. I actually like getting “lost” occasionally, and this manual has helped me always get back home.

How To "Get Found"

Well, now you've done It. You've been daydreaming, seeing the sights. You've turned a corner and realized you haven't a clue about where you are. Fifteen minutes ago you felt yourself hesitate at a junction; 10 minutes later you didn't recognize an obvious landmark. You were merely disoriented then, but now you're lost. You can't figure out how to retrace your steps; everything looks the same, nothing seems familiar. OK, now what are you going to do?

The first thing is to stop. Don't keep on walking and making the situation worse. Admit that you are lost and that it's probably only going to be a small inconvenience, not a life-threatening episode. Calm yourself. Sit down, have a bite to eat, clear your head, and begin looking for clues. Try to remember where you have been during the last half-hour. Envision the last point where you were sure of your position.

Look around for features that might provide a reference. If nothing registers, but you think that you are not far from somewhere familiar, start navigating from scratch. Identify a landmark, or make one, for your current position so you can find it again. Head out from there to explore a little at a time, returning if you are unsuccessful.










6 miles: Large houses, small apartment buildings, and towers can be recognized.

2 miles: Chimneys stand out, windows are dots, and vehicles can be seen moving.

1 mile: People look like dots and trunks of large trees can be seen.

1/2 mile: People look like posts and larger branches on trees become visible.


You followed some logical route (at least, it seemed so at the time) to get where you are, so there is a chance of finding your way back. But if you start wandering aimlessly about, you may lose even this thin thread of connection. You may become not just simply lost, but profoundly lost - and there is a difference.



01/9/14 -- KK