How to walk a straight line

(fifth in a series)  So someone (maybe a pirate) or something (like a treasure map) tells you to walk half a mile at a heading of 222° and you whip out your trusty compass and set your DOT (direction of travel) to 222° and orient the compass and you know what direction to go.

But there is still a problem with this.  If you take off walking forward following that DOT arrow,  there are a lot of situations where you could be walking off track but still facing the DOT.

  • What if you have to walk on the side of a hill?  People tend to curve downhill, so you could end up off track!
  • What if there are obstacles like jungle or a bog between you and your destination.  It’d be easy to get off track going around or even through those obstacles?
  • What if one of your legs is longer or stronger or is injured?  You’ll tend to walk in a curve even in you are following the DOT.

There is a really easy solution to all of these problems that will keep you walking a straight line.

  1. First use your compass to find the direction you need to go.
  2. Then look straight down that direction of travel and find a landmark – a tree or rock or a bend in a creek.  Any prominent landmark will do  so long as it lies right on that line.
  3. Then just walk to that landmark however is easiest.  If you have to go around a bog or hack your way through jungle or whatever, it doesn’t matter so long as you go to that landmark because you know that landmark is on the line you need to be on.  Once you get to that landmark, you know you’re back on the line no matter what sort of detours you had to take to get there!
  4. Once you get to the landmark, use your compass to find the desired heading again and repeat the process – find a landmark on that line and walk to it.

One or two more easy map and compass skills will be just about all you need to know to make yourself pretty competent at keeping yourself found and getting where you’re going when you’re on outdoor adventures.  Stay tuned!

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Categories: Hiking, Skills, Survival

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