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SURVIVE THIS! by josh pi v en Navigating Without a GPS Find your way back to safety using these navigation strategies.


EMERGENCY SITUATION: You’re out on a solo, non- Scouting day hike at a local nature preserve when you realize you’ve wandered off the marked trail. You try backtracking, to no avail. You turn to your GPS for help, but the battery’s dead, and there’s no replacement. Your cell phone has no signal. Reaching for your paper map and mechanical compass, you’re shocked to find them missing. In a few hours, your family will be surprised to find you missing, too. How do you find your way back to civilization?


Solution ASSUMING YOU’VE TOLD someone where you’re going and when you’ll be back, the general rule of thumb when you lose your way is to stay put, not wander without direction. Your Boy Scout training taught you the mnemonic “STOP” or Stay put, Think, Observe and Plan. But before you decide that you’re lost, take a deep breath. Often the immediate stress of losing one’s way causes a person to make erratic decisions. Stay calm. And before you decide you’re officially lost, consider these route-finding methods that will help get you back to safety. With a few simple tricks, you can easily determine your direction of travel and — assuming you at least know where you’ve come from — hike back to safety.


First, the easy ones. You may have


heard that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. If not, you’ve at least seen pictures. (And yes, this is true even in Australia.) If the sky is clear, you should be able to determine the compass points by following the path of the sun. This method won’t, of course, give you a precise heading, but it will give you a general idea that you’re at least not walking in the opposite direction you came from. Because weather generally moves west to east, observing the movement of cloud formations may further help you. In addition, in the northern hemisphere, north-facing slopes tend to be in more shadow, cooler, and thus hold water and snow/ice. If you’ve got an analog watch, you


can use it to double-check your pre- sumed compass points. (This works only if the sun is visible.) Take the watch off and hold it flat on your palm. Rotate it so the hour hand points toward the sun. Next, picture a line passing through the numeral “12” on the watch face and crossing the hour hand at the pivot point. Finally, imagine a line that bisects the arc between the “12” and the hour hand. This line is north-south, with the continuation of the bisecting line across the arc pointing south. (See illustration.) If your watch is set to daylight saving time, use the line that bisects the hour hand and the “1”, not the “12.” And be advised that it will be getting darker sooner! One of the great things about this method is that


FIND MORE SURVIVAL advice at scoutingmagazine.org/survivethis.


40 SCOUT ING ¿ JANUARY•FEBRUARY 2014


FRANK STOCKTON


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