Sunday, June 26, 2011

Finding Your Way Without a Compass - Part 2

In Find Your Way Without a Compass - Part 1 I shared two methods to find your directions without a compass.   Here are a few more tips to help you find your way home if your lost in the woods!

Use the Sun and a Stick (Often called "Shadow Stick"):

    Find an open flat patch of ground that is going to be in direct sunlight for the next hour or two. Drive a stick into the earth and then mark the end of the stick's shadow. Now wait about 20 minutes and mark the shadow's tip again. Repeat this process several times for one to two hours, marking the shadow's tip every 20 minutes. Now that you have several marks on the ground, draw a line between the series of marks.  This line provides you with your East and West directions.  With the sun at your back, and facing perpendicular to the line, East is to your right, West to you left, North is straight in front of you and South is directly behind you. (Note:  This is reversed if you are in the Southern Hemisphere)

The shadow stick method can also be used at night using the light from the moon to cast the shadow you then mark to find your direction.

Use the North Star:

Find the North Star - If you're lost at night in the northern hemisphere, you can find north using the North Star, also known as Polaris. The North Star is the only star in the night sky that doesn't move with the rotation of the Earth.  To find the North Star locate the Big Dipper, and use the two stars that make up the cup edge of the dipper, opposite the handle, to locate the North Star.  These two stars are directly in line with the North Star.  Remember the North Star is on the open end or top of the dipper cup (See figure below).  

Now that you have found the North Star, how do you use it to find your way?  The best way to get your direction is to push a stick or branch into the ground, and then looking over the end of this stick place a second stick in the ground.  The second stick should line up so that when you look over the first stick, the second stick is directly under the North Star.

                                                      - Backcountry Gear @ Gear&Gadgetry

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