Saturday, April 4, 2015

Use pacing to keep track of where you are on trail

Knowing how many steps you need to take to reach 100 yards can keep you
from becoming disoriented on the trail.
A useful navigational technique to know when hiking is pacing. This technique allows you to accurately estimate how far you've walked based on the number of steps taken. With that information, you'll be able to determine where you are on a map.

Backpackers generally use a couple of different methods when pacing. Single pacing involves counting every step you take. Double pacing counts only the right or the left footsteps (i.e. every other step).

To use either method, you'll need to know how many yards you can cover in a hundred steps. The best way to do that is to find a flat surface, such at a local track, and count the number of steps you take to go the hundred yards. Do this a minimum of three times, determine the average, and remember the number (You may even want to write it down and keep it in your backpack.).

When on the trail, you can use pacing by first determining your exact location on a map. Then count off the number of steps you taken until reaching the number that equals a hundred yards for you. Stop at that point and look at the map. Now check the map's key to determine where a hundred yards is located from your last point. You are at that new point, give or take a few feet. This marks about 1/19th of a mile.

Be aware that your pace count will vary from hike to hike. For example, you take shorter strides (and hence more steps) when going uphill and longer strides (and hence fewer steps) when going downhill. In addition, if a teenager, the pace count probably will decrease the taller you get, as your strides will be longer.

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