site logo

Finding Your Way by Natural Signs and the Compass

Categories: 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