Hello and welcome to this lesson of the online course Wilderness Navigation Masters, where the fun stuff starts to show, at least for me.
Because you will finally learn, how to choose your hike itinerary.
What route choices I have?
In the wilderness, most of the time, you will have to choose between:
- the shortest route
- the fastest route
- the one with beautiful views
- the one with the least amount of effort
- the safest route, etc.
My first advice:
And even you did learn what to choose and how, my first advice, is to start slowly.
Like the first time you’ve learned how to drive a car if you do of course.
Even you get your driving license, you did not take the first highway and start driving, or you go downtown, where there are more chances of hitting someone.
You’ve started slowly … by driving when you get full sleep and not tired … and as long as you get confidence in yourself, you start driving by night or with just one hand and a sandwich in the other one. …. you know how people drive after they get confident.
This is what you should do in the wilderness. Start in areas that have well-marked trails, and hike after hike, start escalating difficulties.
Now that you get an idea of how I want you to apply my advice, let’s start with what should do to navigate in the wilderness.
It’s simple, but at the same time not easy.
To navigate in the wilderness, you should:
- 1) You should always know where you are.
I know, you are not a GPS, but you should do that by a margin of error of 300 feet maximum.
- 2) You should know where you are going.
I think this is obvious.
- 3) You should know how to do it.
These are the three questions that you should be able to answer before and during your outdoor activity, in order to stay safe.
To answer the first question of knowing where you are, you should follow your position like a GPS, with the help of landmarks around you and/or with the help of the directions you did follow and how much distance you’ve traveled.
And to make this easier, always orient your map to the landscape, as you’ve learned before.
One thing that I want to clarify is, when I say you should follow or track your position like a GPS, I don’t mean it inch by inch, but having a general idea.[Skip video to 2:44]
Why I can’t give you one technique to hike in the wilderness, because there isn’t.
Outdoors have multiple situations, one where you should navigate by the night, sometimes in winter, sometimes by the coast, sometimes you should get out of a storm, and in every situation, you have different challenges that require different techniques.
But, the common thing between these situations, is that you should always search for the easiest, sure solution, that will take you where you want.
Wilderness navigation is like a habit that you should adopt, more than techniques.
What I always compare wilderness navigation to, is when I wake up at night (or when I can’t sleep a night, to be transparent with you) and I want to go to the kitchen, without turning the lights on.
How I succeed every time I do that?
I succeed because I know the turns and the distances between each one. And to turn me or to stop, I get help from other things like the lights that come from a window or I touch I chair that I know it’s the position, and measure my paces.
It’s similar to wilderness navigation. To know the turns and the distances for an area that you didn’t visit before, you should plan and analyze your route before you step outside, and when you want to make turns or to stop, you get the help of landscape features.
It’s that simple.
The next piece of advice that I want to give you, is to always take notes of bearings, distances, and times, adjust your walking deviation with intermediate landmarks and land features, use land features that are not easy to disappear, especially if your map is not recent.
Because, if you think that having to follow a trail on your map or one that you see in front of you is sure and secure, it’s not the case.
Sometimes, trails disappear after the grass grows, sometimes you found new ones that can make you take turns before the ones that you are supposed to take.
Moreover, during your planning, choose routes that you can retrace your steps on if you have to get back to a previously known location or your starting point.
I think I did discuss why and how in a previous dedicated lesson.
Now that you’ve started seeing how we navigate in the wilderness, let’s get deeper with in-depth advice and hiking examples.
When you are planning and during your outdoor activity, you should not analyze, anticipate, and imagine just your itinerary, you should do it also for what surrounds it. Because this is how you know if you’ve made an error, quickly before you get more lost.
During your planning time, try also to see what landmarks, land features, and techniques that you can use in order to orient yourself, what are the difficult sections and areas where you should be more attentive.
At the same time, think of the different scenarios that can happen, like getting an injury or a storm in your way, etc. And how can you get back to civilization, or how rescue can reach you or just how to get out from the danger zone.[Skip the video to 7:00]
That’s all for this lesson.
Please, if you still have a question about how to navigate in the wilderness I’m here to help you.
Just leave me your question below.
Thank you and see you in the next lesson.
Updated on December 6, 2021 by Ben