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The best thing to do, of course, is not to get lost.  When hiking away from camp in a more or less fixed direction, take frequent "shots" to check up on your compass; it may save you from "a night out."  Most important of all, make a mental note of the distance you are bearing to the left or right because of swamps, hills, and other "detours," as well as landmarks such as odd-shaped rocks, trees or trail marks.  This same distance must be taken into account when returning, even though you do so with the aid of a compass.

 Keeping a Course

Landmarks are a sufficient guide when traveling in an area where there are plenty of outlooks, the weather is clear, and the sun is visible.   When you do use a compass on the march, and the country is not too difficult, it will be enough to hold the instrument in one hand, and, without waiting for the needle to stop swinging, note the point midway of the limits of its motion and take that for north, unless the magnetic declination is considerable.  

In level, heavily timbered country, you must take greater care if you want to reach a definite point.  Lay the compass on the ground, or on any higher object that will hold it level.  Where you cannot see out to take bearings in this way, consult the compass every two or three minutes; for it is the easiest thing in the world to get off a true course at such times, and a few degrees' swerve, if not soon detected, will carry you far astray. (see also: What to do if Lost

 

 

   

 

 


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Last modified: October 15, 2016.