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Blazing the Trail

Categories: 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 yo
r 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