Imagine this. You wake up in an uninhabited place. Surrounded by meadows and rolling plains (and all the other jazz that goes along with nature), but you don't have a clue as to where you are! You're lost on the trail or lost while camping. How do you go about getting out of there? The first thing to remember is that you should walk straight, and to do that you need some reference points. Without which, us human beings have this uncanny tendency to walk in rather large circles.
So here's a basic guide if you ever find yourself a lost and wandering soul, or you decide to go camping and your battery runs out (Also see Trekking Tips for beginners
, a detailed resource for beginners taking up trekking)
A useful hack is to locate a direction, say North and then use the bearings to decide which way is safe. Finding Polaris, the north star, is one of the most reliable ways of finding North. Everyone from the ancient Chinese, Egyptians and the Roman armies have used it as a navigational aid. It's easy to find and makes a handy tool in the armory of an intrepid explorer. So here's how to find the North using the North Star. Step 1.
Find Ursa Major (or the Big Dipper). It is one of the most popular and recognizable of constellations in the sky. Composed of seven stars, these form the shape of a ladle or a dipper, with 3 composing the stem and the rest making the bowl. Step 2.
From the two stars forming the extremity of the bowl, trace a line upwards. Continue along this line, and the brightest star you encounter on the line is Polaris, the North Star.' With a lot of stars up there, we need to make sure that it really is the north star. We can check it using one of the most beautiful quirks of nature. Not only do the two stars in the big dipper point to the North Atar, the north star is actually a part of another constellation called little dipper. It's the last star in the tail of a smaller, inverted version of the big dipper. This is called Ursa Minor and actually looks as if the little dipper is pouring water into the big dipper. See image below!
Stand with your eyes towards the North Star, and you have North within your sight!
- Valid from approximately 250 B.C. A compass is a magical device. Put it flat and it points north. It requires no batteries and just works! The basic premise is that one of the pointy bits (usually the red painted one) will point north. The TL;DR part A compass consists of a few parts:
How to use the magical instrument? Step 1.
- The baseplate is the clear, plastic plate on which the compass is embedded.
- The direction of travel arrow is the arrow in the baseplate pointing away from the compass.
- The compass housing is the clear, plastic circle that houses the magnetized compass needle.
- The degree dial is the twistable dial surrounding the compass housing that displays all 360 degrees of the circle.
- The magnetic needle is the needle spinning within the compass housing.
- The orienting arrow is the non-magnetic arrow within the compass housing.
Place the compass flat and put it on the map. Step 2.
Find the direction you are facing. You can do this by making sure that what you see on the ground matches the features displayed on the map ( Think Pirate treasure maps ) Step 3.
Turn the degree dial until the 'Orienting Arrow' lines up with the magnetic arrow. Point them both North, and find the direction you're facing by looking at the direction of travel arrow. If the direction of travel arrow is now between North and West, you're facing North-West! Step 4.
Keep checking the direction you're travelling against your surroundings. This is called 'gathering your bearings' Step5.
Unless you're going north, your magnetic needle will spin towards one side. This is another way of confirming your bearings and knowing whether you're headed in the right direction. For more detailed instructions you can check out the following articles: 1. The Wikihow Article
2. The Compass Dude
or you can watch the following youtube video:
What's this I hear you say? - "But what if I don't have a Compass?" If you have a watch, you can find the directions a little more accurately, as shown in this video:
If you are lost in the wilderness and somehow still have internet connectivity, I hope this blog was of help! Don't forget to hit share with all your wanderlusty (yes) friends. Have you ever been lost in the wilderness? Share your experience in the comments below!