07 June 2011

Navigation

"No, I can't say I was ever lost, but I was bewildered once for three days"- Daniel Boone (1734-1820), Frontiersman

In my last post I said I was going on a rant about hitting the trail without a map and not knowing how to use it if you had it! Well the other I hit my breaking point on this subject. I went to my local outdoors shop to see if I could find a UTM plotter. Sales girls came up to me and asked, "can I help you find something".

Me- I am looking for a UTM Plotter.

Sales Girl- Is that like a compass.

Me- (I am thinking) you work here in a backpacking/outdoor store and you think that a UTM plotter is a compass. OK looks like you don't have one... Thanks

WTF! I guess I will not be supporting the local shop with a purchase. Don't think that I am going to ask if you can order for me. I can go online to do that.

Call it what you want, backcountry navigation, Land Nav, map reading, orienteering, or using a GPS. If you are going to hit a trail or go into the backcountry or even across town to somewhere you have not been you have to have somthing to help you get there.

Navigation is problem solving of the highest order. Orienteering is know as the thinking game. It demands you to be aware of your surroundings and pay attention to details. Navigation competence can only be developed by practice.

I don't know how I want to end this post, so I will leave you with a couple of links to checkout. One of the best ways to develope your skill is to go to a orienteering event. They have beginner classes at the event and different levels of courses that you can do. Go here to the Orienteering USA home page to find an event near you. Or go to chapter 12 of the Boy Scout Fieldbook if you want to read how to read and use a map. If you want the UTM Plotter or know what the heck it is then click here.

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