Friday, December 12, 2014

Use shadow stick compass to find your direction

Sunlight, shadow and a stick are all you need to create
a makeshift compass. Photo courtesy of Photoree.
If you’ve forgotten or lost your compass on a hike, there’s no need to panic, so long as you have some sunlight and patience. You can create a shadow stick compass, a tried-and-true method that travelers have used for centuries.

Begin by finding a clear, level spot along the trail. Place you trekking pole or a stick that’s about three-feet high in the center of this patch.

Next, follow the shadow that your trekking pole or stick makes in the clearing. Place a marker – a rock or a small stick works well – at the shadow’s end point.

About 15 minutes later, recheck the shadow. You’ll notice that the end point has moved. Place a marker at that end point.

Draw a straight line between the two markers. This line runs directly west-east, with the first end point being west and the newest end point being east.

Now draw a line running perpendicular to this west-east axis (that is, make a plus sign). The end point of this second line that is on the same side of the west-east axis as your trekking pole is south. The other end point of the second line is north.

To increase accuracy, wait another 15 minutes and create a third end point to draw your west-east axis.

Learn about trail guidebooks available in the Hittin’ the Trail series.